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Department of Informatics - Communication Systems Group

4243 - Computer Networks and Distributed Systems (CNDS)

Instructor: Prof. Dr. Burkhard Stiller
Assistants: Jan von der Assen,Katharina O. E. Müller
Scope: Lecture with exercises

Thursdays, 8:15-9:45

First lecture: 22.09.2022 8:15-9:45

Exercise: Thursdays, 10:00-11:30
Room: BIN-1.B.01
Podcast: No recordings are provided (may change in accordance with the UZH COVID-19 measures)

Thursday, 12.01.2022 at 08:15 - 09:45

BIN-0-K.02: students with surnames starting¹ A-L

BIN-1-B.01:  students with surnames starting¹ M-Z

Please be on-site by 8.00am.


The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) age has firmly arrived in our daily life, not only during work and business hours, but also in entertainment and social interactions. Thus, society has to cope with such fast-paced developments of digitization. Many of those human-centric statements only refer to or try to analyze the impact of these changes on society. However, in many cases, the fundamentals to derive reliable, correct, and transparent conclusions require detailed know-how of "Communication Networks and Distributed Systems (CNDS)."

Therefore, once stand-alone systems are discussed, their interconnection across the physical boundaries of an office or building forms the major development of the ICT society. Since fundamental communication architectures introduced communications by technical means over the past 100 years, the development of telephone communications to today's Internet will be covered. Protocols, reliable, unreliable, and secure services, algorithms for finding the corresponding receiver, routing, and basic mechanisms for Internet operations will form this lecture's first part.

Furthermore, once stand-alone systems have been interconnected, they constitute a Distributed System. While formed from a collection of independent computers, it appears to the users as a single coherent system. Even though, the system comprises a variety of embedded hardware and software, allowing for a collection of fully autonomous machines. Thus, this lecture's second part covers the basic theory and techniques of Distributed Systems.  Driven by an introduction, naming principles, and outlines of distributed file systems. Consequently, application-driven interoperability lies at the core of Distributed Systems. Thus, approaches for synchronization and coordination are discussed, including various in-use system overviews.

Lastly, the role of security in Distributed Systems and Communication Systems will conclude this class.



Students will receive the required insights into the basic foundations of Communication Networks and Distributed Systems. The lecture will specifically teach communication architectures, network building blocks, shared links, packet switching, end-to-end protocols, security mechanisms, selected Internet applications, naming principles, distributed file systems synchronization, coordination, and security elements. Overall, students will be able to understand which communication systems exist, how Internet-based systems operate world-wise, which communications can be reliable, which ones may be secured, and how the basic interoperation of Distributed Systems works.


The lecture "Communication Networks and Distributed Systems CNDS" runs as an introductory course with no specific technical requirements. However, basic mathematical and programming language skills help.

Course Material

Mandatory literature will be announced in the first lecture. Lecture slides and additional material can be found here, too. Details on the exercises can be found here as well.


The information contained on this page complements the official page at the Vorlesungsverzeichnis (VVZ). In case of doubt, the official information from the VVZ is always considered valid.



¹ We are using your surnames as provided by OLAT (Profile > Personal Data > Last Name). If your surname consists of multiple words, we only consider the first character of the first word.


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