SYSC 5306: Mobile Computing Systems (Winter 2017)


·         As discussed in class, the assignments will be group projects. The group size is 3, unless I approve a different size. Should you need help to form a group of that size, let me know and I will match you up with other students in class. If you do not contact me before the assignment is handed out and you end up in a group of a different size, this may lead to a loss of marks.

·         In preparation for assignment 1, you should read the following papers about planning, running, and reporting on simulation experiments:

1.      Simulations in Wireless Sensor and Ad Hoc Networks: Matching and Advancing Models, Metrics, and Solutions

2.      MANET Simulation Studies: The Incredibles

3.      On the Credibility of Manet Simulations

·         IEEE Spectrum had two interesting/relevant articles in the January 2017 issue: one on current developments in 5G, and one about fold-up smartphone screens

·         I looked up some old course projects and post three here that I considered well done (Sample 1, Sample 2, Sample 3). For all three examples, they defined a specific research problem relevant to the course, reviewed the state-of-the-art, EVALUATED it, and then did something with that information. However, the requirements for the course were different in past years, in some years we had actual mote hardware and the requirement for the project was to implement something. Also, some projects were done as group projects, others as individual projects. I would strongly advise you to NOT simply copy the research problem from one of these samples: as you can tell from the references, some of these reports are from quite a few years ago, so they may not reflect the CURRENT set of “hot” research topics.

In the Winter 2017 term, Thomas Kunz is teaching a graduate course on Mobile Computing (course description can be found here). As more information becomes available, it will be posted on this page.

Some humorous links with information loosely connected to the course:

·         A funny list of irreverent cellular acronyms

·         For a funny take on computers and mobile devices, check out My Blackberry isn’t working, which uses very British humour, so look at it at your own risk… To understand one of the puns: Orange is a cellular service provider in the UK.

·         Here is another little fun fact: some academic colleague was successful publishing a journal paper with very little content. Even better, some 33 years later or so, others managed to publish a follow-up paper. However, in this course, I’ll expect a bit more content J.

·         In the category of funny academic papers, here is another one. It is probably funnier once you had experience with the academic review process yourself though.

·         We touch on security/encryption quite a bit in this course, if you want to learn the basic terminology, check out Bob and Alice (in particular this external link, which has a humorous description/introduction to the topic).

·         Here is a link to the humorous description of Kerberos, a widely popular distributed authentication protocol

·         Another topic we talk about in class are standards. Here is a funny story about the consequences of standards.

·         There is also a whole slew of RFCs to describe IP over Avian Carriers (goes to show that the IETF can have some fun as well J)


Some more factual/technical links:

·         Smartphones have been a big driver of what the course covers. Is the era of smartphones coming to an end, to be replaced with completely different devices?

·         January 9, 2007: Steve Jobs announced the iPhone. See the original announcement here.

·         The Google project to provide wireless broadband services to underserviced regions is called Loon.

·         We will discuss spectrum auctions. This article from The Globe and Mail (January 27, 2015) describes how the rules for the AWS-3 auction were set to advantage smaller players. The results of that auction were announced by Industry Canada in the spring of 2015, the results show that in total over $2.1B were paid by a number of participants, mostly Telus and Bell. (AWS: Advanced Wireless Services).

·         According to Wikipedia, IPv4 address space is exhausted in some regions of the world: Three of the five RIRs have exhausted allocation of all the blocks they have not reserved for IPv6 transition; this occurred for the Asia-Pacific on 15 April 2011, for Europe on 14 September 2012, and for Latin America and the Caribbean on 10 June 2014.

·         IEEE Computer November 2010 had two interesting short articles related to the course: Gigabit WiFi and FCC Decision on Whitespace (3rd page of the file)

·         IEEE Spectrum (January 2012) has an interesting overview article on LTE. One of the more interesting tidbits of information is right up front: smartphones can require as much as 115 MB/hour of bandwidth!

·         An interesting networking paper is "End-to-End Arguments in System Design" by Saltzer et al. (which, according to Google Scholar, has been cited over 2700 times as of December 2016), and the key argument/principle also has its own Wikipedia entry

·         And in terms of writing papers, here is a great blog entry about why some employers at least care about grammar/writing skills

As usual in a graduate course, no single textbook covers all the topics we will touch on. However, fairly complete coverages of the course content can be found in:

·         Mobile Communications, 2nd edition, by Jochen Schiller, Pearson Education Limited 2003, ISBN 0-321-12381-6.

·         Ad Hoc Wireless Networks: Architectures and Protocols, by C. Siva Ram Murthy and B.S. Manoj, Prentice Hall 2004, ISBN 0-13-147023-X (despite the title, it also covers many cellular/WLAN topics briefly).

Also, in particular as a starting point for the course project, you may want to look at the following books (in addition to the references provided in the Appendix section on the website):

Finally, here are links to three open access books on wireless networks/wireless sensor networks that also may be of interest to you:

·         Mobile Ad Hoc Networks: Applications

·         Mobile Ad Hoc Networks: Protocol Design

·         Wireless Sensor Networks

Reading papers, preparing presentations: the course will require you to (among other things) read papers, prepare a presentation, and engage in a course project, training your research skills. To prepare for these tasks, you should consult a number of online references on how to go about this (preparing a GOOD presentation or project report takes SUBSTANTIAL effort):

·         A short sequence of PPT transparencies from Nitin Vaidya on how to read, write, and present papers (postscript or HTML document).

·         IEEE Computer, September 2005, had an interesting article on Presentation Skills.

·         Communications of the ACM, July 2016, had a practitioner article about Statistics for Engineers.

·         Another useful reference is the website Advice on Research and Writing and the Graduate Study in the Computer and Mathematical Sciences: A Survival Manual website.

·         On the other hand, avoid the pitfalls identified in How to Have a Bad Career in Research/Academia.

·         A (tongue-in-cheek) dictionary of "useful" research phrases.

·         A lengthy but very interesting talk by Richard Hamming on what it takes to be a great researcher.

·         An interesting editorial on what higher education should be about.

·         Finally, here is a book about 57 ways to screw up in grad school. University Affairs also published an interview with the authors of the book. Of course the position taken in this book also has its critics, see for example this opinion piece.

Plagiarism is unfortunately a not too infrequent problem in academia. I expect all submissions to clearly identify what sources/references have been used for what part of your submission. If you are unsure as to what constitutes plagiarism, please check this website or this one.

Course handouts and other information, including assignments (all very much work in progress):

·         Course handout (as of December 19, 2016)

·         For the course assignments, you will need to design and run networking experiments and analyze the results. You have a choice of either NS2 (an older, widely used network simulator for MANET research in particular) or Cooja (based on Contiki OS, it provides a fairly complete set of relevant protocols for WSN and IoT).

·         Network Simulator 2:

·         A guide to installing a Linux Virtual Machine on Windows PCs. Please note that the instructions are from 2 years ago, so the version numbers are not the most recent ones. But the overall set of instructions is still valid. However, should you use the prepared image that you download from the course website, re-install “Guest Additions” (under “Devices”) to ensure it matches your version of VirtualBox.

1.      An alternative step-by-step description can be found here

·         Some comments on installing NS2

·         Working with NS2

·         Cooja/Contiki OS: Alternatively, you can do the assignments with Cooja, the simulator for WSN and based on the Contiki OS (recently re-branded as the Open Source Operating System for the Internet of Things).

·         Similar to NS2, you can download a virtual image and use that for your working environment. Follow the instructions on the Getting Started page.

·         Once you have the virtual machine up and running, you may have to work on some basic maintenance tasks: update the software to the latest version, install the latest version of VMWare Tools, etc. You will need root privileges for any of that, the root password is the same as the account: user. It should be sufficient to simply follow the prompts.

Course material (password-protected, will be updated throughout the term):

As the slides will be updated, I will post them here for download and review, as PDF files in an easy-to-print 2 slides per page format. The set of slides includes some I adapted from Prof. Schiller's slides for his textbook.

Thomas Kunz