Introduction to Communication Networks

Prof. James P.G. Sterbenz <>
Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science,
The University of Kansas

Course Description

EECS 563
3 credit hours

An introduction to the principles used in communication networks is given in this course. Topics include a discussion of the uses of communications networks, network traffic, network impairments, standards, layered reference models for organizing network functions. Local Area Network technology and protocols are discussed. Link, network, transport layer protocols, and security are introduced. TCP/IP networks are stressed. VoIP is used as an example throughout the course. Basic concepts of network performance evaluation are studied, both analytical and simulation techniques are considered.


EECS 168 or 169 (programming) and EECS 461 or Math 525 (probability).

This course is intended for undergraduates; graduate students should take EECS 780.

Time and Location

EECS 563 meets during the day on the Lawrence main campus.

Influenza Precautions

While influenza traditionally peaks in the spring, first cases frequently appear in the fall. I use alcohol-based sanitiser and regularly use, and recommend you carry a small bottle with you at all times. I strongly recommend that you get the seasonal vaccine; information is available on the CDC Influenza page. The KU Watkins Health Services offers clinics and appointments for flu shots.

Do not come to class if you have flu symptoms, which include a fever; instead see your doctor or go to Watkins Health Services (and make sure to get a note saying you've been there). You are most contagious in the early stages and have the highest likelihood of infecting others in the class, so see a doctor immediately if you have flu symptoms, and do not come to class until you have not had a fever for 24 hours. Do not come to class if you are sneezing or coughing. You will not be penalised for late work due to illness, and I will help you make up missed lecture material.

Course Offerings

Detailed information about individual offerings of this course are located on the following pages, including schedule and homework assignments.

Generic course information and the latest version of the lectures are located on this page below. Current and past 563 students, as well as other seriously interested parties are welcome to request to join the EECS 563 Facebook group.

Lectures and Readings

EECS 563 Lectures
Lecture Reading
Subject Key Protocols Required Optional
Administrivia and Ethics
ICN-AE [display]
 Class Policies 
Preliminaries and
ICN-PR [display]
ISO 7948-1  S:2
 EECS 784
History and Architecture
ICN-HA [display]
Networked Applications and
Social Networking
ICN-AL [display]
Cloud PaaS, IaaS, SaaS
 K:2–2.4, 2.6–2.8  S:8
End-to-End Transport
ICN-TL [display]
Network Layer:
ICN-NL [display]
DNS (concept)
IPv6 (addr), ICMPv6
 K:2.5, 4  S:5.2–5.3.4; 5.4–5.5 
Network Layer:
Routing and Management
ICN-NR [display]
 K:5.1–5.5  NET-NR
Link Layer and LANs
ICN-LL [display]
802.1, 802.2, 802.3
 K:6  S:5.1.2–5.1.4
Physical Layer
ICN-PL [display]
transmission media
line coding
Mobile and Wireless
ICN-MW [display]
 K:7  NET-MW
 EECS 882
 Resilience and Survivability 
ICN-SR [display]
IPsec (AH, ESP)  K:8  NET-SR
 EECS 983
Multimedia Networking,
Session Control,
Traffic Management
ICN-MT [display]
IntServ, RSVP
DiffServ, (term)
 K:9  NET-MS

Reading assignments: K = Kurose & Ross (required); S = Sterbenz & Touch (optional on reserve for EECS780)

Required Textbook

James F. Kurose and Keith F. Ross,
Computer Networking: A Top-Down Approach Featuring the Internet, seventh edition,
Pearson Addison Wesley, 2017.

Kurose and Ross come with a prepaid subscription to the companion Web site. The inside cover of the book has a scratch-off access code. If you purchase used copy of the book you may need to follow the instructions at the bottom of the page or on the book to separately purchase a licence. Note that you do not need this licence to access the Wireshark exercises; the direct link is in the schedule table.

You must use the current edition of this book; previous editions are not up-to-date in some areas and have different homework problems.

Optional Textbook

James P.G. Sterbenz and Joseph D. Touch,
High-Speed Networking: A Systematic Approach to High-Bandwidth Low-Latency Communication,
John Wiley, New York, 2001.
This book is also used for EECS 780.

Supplementary Textbooks

A number of supplementary textbooks covering aspects of communication networks in more depth are on reserve in the Spahr Library, and listed on the EECS 780 Web page.


Grading will be on a modified curve in which students are grouped (generally by modes in the distribution). Exams and homework will receive numerical scores. Employer reimbursement and immigration status cannot be a consideration in the final grade.

EECS 563 Final Grade Modes
Aexceptional exam results and assignment scores
Bmastery of material
Cslacking but know basic material
Dvery poor performance on exams and assignments
Fnon-performance on exams, or academic misconduct in class

Final grades in this course do not have the + and – modifiers.

If you are having difficulty in the class I strongly recommended you discuss this early and not wait until exam time. Students are responsible for understanding course drop policies and deadlines.

EECS 563 Grading
17%exam 1
17%exam 2
17%exam 3 (portion of final exam)
17%comprehensive portion of final exam
05%homework problems
10%Wireshark and socket programming exercises
  0%effort    “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” —Yoda

Attendance for the lecture sessions is mandatory, and regular attendance is the only way for students to know what will be emphasised on the exams.

Assignments and Exams

Homework and Assignments

Homework assignments are intended to give practice in problem solving and quiz your understanding of material between exams. Homework problems for this course are generally located in Kurose and Ross, but other problems may be occasionally assigned.

Wireshark labs in Kurose and Ross provide insight on the working of protocols in a controlled environment. An socket programming exercise provides additional practical experience.

Specific assignments and dates are located in the course offering page for a given semester. Homework and lab assignments must either be submitted on the due date in class at the beginning, or in person to the EECS office to be timestamped before 09:30. Late assignments will not be accepted for grading and wil receive zero credit.


Exams will be closed book and notes with no electronics permitted. The exam information page contains detailed information on the requirements, structure, and grading of examinations for this course. You must also read the academic integrity page before taking an exam.

While you are responsible for all lecture content and required readings, the following list outlines some of the most important topics likely to be covered on the exams for this course.

Exam 1: Upper Layers

Exam 2: Lower Layers

Exam 3 (portion of final exam)

Final Exam (comprehensive portion)

Plagiarism and academic integrity: All students are required to read and understand the academic integrity information and sanctions for this class.

Reference Material

Additional Sources

RFCs (request for comments) are the freely available specifications on the Internet architecture and protocols. RFCs are produced by the IETF; its working groups represent on-going Internet design and engineering, and contain the lists of Internet Drafts, some of which will become RFCs.

Many international standards are freely available, including from the ITU-T (International Telecommunication Union – Telecommunication Standardization Sector). Some ISO (International Organization for Standardization) standards are freely available, including the key OSI networking standards. Individuals are permitted to download 3 free ITU-R (ITU – Radiocommunication Sector) standards by registering.

Similarly, ANSI standards must be purchased, and are absurdly expensive: the SONET T.105 set of specifications costs in excess of $1500, ordered either from ANSI or ATIS. Unless you work for a large telecom company with a corporate subscription or are independently wealthy, these documents are inaccessible. The Telcordia (formerly Bellcore) SONET specifications GR 253 CORE: SONET Transport Systems: Common Generic Criteria are even more expensive. As long as ANSI and ATIS are interested only in profit and not educational outreach, the very similar SDH specifications can be used to understand the SONET/SDH architecture and topology.

IEEE Standards are available from IEEE Xplore. IEEE 802 networking specifications (including 802.1, 802.2, 802.3, 802.11, 802.15, and 802.16) are also freely available once they have been published for 6 months. The publication date of IEEE Standards Association has the ability to determine the publication date of standards, which is useful to see when new 802 standards will become freely available.

The Web is a wonderful source of information: definitive & accurate, marketing spin, opinion, and total nonsense. The Wikipedia frequently has good information and may be a good starting point, but sources such as this should generally not be used as definitive references, nor should trade rags and the popular press.

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