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Department of Computer Science and Technology



Course pages 2022–23

Network Architectures

Principal lecturer: Prof Jon Crowcroft
Taken by: MPhil ACS, Part III
Code: R02
Term: Michaelmas
Hours: 16
Class limit: max. 16 students
Prerequisites: Undergraduate courses that cover the material in Principles of Communications, Security, and Computer Systems Modelling
Moodle, timetable


This module aims to provide the world with more network architects. The 2011-2012 version was oriented around the evolution of IP to support new services like multicast, mobility, multihoming, pub/sub and, in general, data oriented networking. The course is a paper reading which puts the onus on the student to do the work.


  • IPng [2 lectures, Jon Crowcroft]
  • New Architectures [2 lectures, Jon Crowcroft]
  • Multicast [2 lectures, Jon Crowcroft]
  • Content Distribution and Content Centric Networks [2 lectures, Jon Crowcroft]
  • Resource Pooling [2 lectures, Jon Crowcroft]
  • Green Networking [2 lectures, Jon Crowcroft]
  • Alternative Router Implementions [2 lectures, Jon Crowcroft]
  • Data Center Networks [2 Lectures, Jon Crowcroft]


On completion of this module, students should be able to:

  • contribute to new network system designs;
  • engineer evolutionary changes in network systems;
  • identify and repair architectural design flaws in networked systems;
  • see that there are no perfect solutions (aside from academic ones) for routing, addressing, naming;
  • understand tradeoffs in modularisation and other pressures on clean software systems implementation, and see how the world is changing the proper choices in protocol layering, or non layered or cross-layered.


Assessment is through three graded essays (each chosen individually from a number of suggested or student-chosen topics), as follows:

  1. Analysis of two different architectures for a particular scenario in terms of cost/performance tradeoffs for some functionality and design dimension, for example:
    • ATM – e.g. for hardware versus software tradeoff
    • IP – e.g. for mobility, multi-homing, multicast, multipath
    • 3GPP – e.g. for plain complexity versus complicatedness
  2. A discursive essay on a specific communications systems component, in a particular context, such as ad hoc routing, or wireless sensor networks.
  3. A bespoke network design for a narrow, well specified specialised target scenario, for example:
    • A customer baggage tracking network for an airport.
    • in-flight entertainment system.
    • in-car network for monitoring and control.
    • inter-car sensor/control network for automatic highways.

Practical work

This course does not feature any implementation work due to time constraints.


  • Three 1,200-word essays (worth 25% each), and
  • an annotated bibliography (25%).

Recommended reading

Pre-course reading:

Keshav, S. (1997). An engineering approach to computer networking. Addison-Wesley (1st ed.). ISBN 0201634422
Peterson, L.L. and Davie, B.S. (2007). Computer networks: a systems approach. Morgan Kaufmann (4th ed.).

Design patterns:

Day, John (2007). Patterns in network architecture: a return to fundamentals. Prentice Hall.

Example systems:

Krishnamurthy, B. and Rexford, J. (2001). Web protocols and practice: HTTP/1.1, Networking protocols, caching, and traffic measurement. Addison-Wesley.

Economics and networks:

Frank, Robert H. (2008). The economic naturalist: why economics explains almost everything.


Certainly, a collection of papers (see ACM CCR which publishes notable network researchers' favourite ten papers every 6 months or so).

Further Information

Due to infectious respiratory diseases, the method of teaching for this module may be adjusted to cater for physical distancing and students who are working remotely. Unless otherwise advised, this module will be taught in person.