SC700 - Modern Information Protocols


Instructor:  Ari Trachtenberg (,  358-1581,   PHO 427) --

            Office hours: Monday 4-5pm;  Tuesday 4-5pm;  Thursday 10-11am.  Also by appointment.

Course web page:

You are responsible for checking the class home page regularly.  All homeworks and many announcements will be distributed electronically through the course web page.


Course content

Information is the currency of the internet, and information protocols manage this currency.  We will explore interdependencies among four general issues in information transfer on the internet:  speed, accuracy, security, and availability.  Thus, we will begin with an introduction to commonly-used and state-of-the-art data compression and error-correction techniques.  We will then proceed to examine methods for cryptographically encrypting data, in addition to techniques for attacking and breaking such encryption.  We will end with recent research into information dispersion and distributed computing.  Throughout the course, we will stress the reuse and interdependence of these four properties.


Research projects

The majority of your grade in the class will be based on two research projects.  The first project will involve presenting a publication of recent research in an area relevant to the course.  The second project will involve researching and then tackling (though not necessarily solving) an open problem in a relevant area.  The "presentations" handout for more information on this requirement, as well as suggested projects.



All grades will be curved according to the class average.  Thus, it is your relative score (compared to the rest of the class) that really matters, rather than your objective score.  For a course at this level, I expect to center the average at an A-.



Raw scores will be computed based on the following weights:

·Four homeworks - one on each area of discussion (30 points)

·Lecture notes (10 points)

·Paper presentation (30 points)

·Open problem research (30 points)


Extra credit

Occasionally, particularly challenging problems will be presented in class.  Credit will be given to the first, complete, written solution to such problems.  Beyond the advantage of added credit, solution to these problems affords recognition of especially exceptional work.





There will be a 10% penalty per day for late homework.  However, no homeworks will be accepted more than three days late.  Penalties and restrictions may be removed only for legitimate excuses with written, dated documentation.



I take cheating and plagiarism very seriously, especially in a course at this level.  You may use other textbooks or web sources when completing your homework and/or I encourage you to collaborate with up to ONE other classmate per homework subject to the following strict conditions:


1)  You must clearly acknowledge all your sources (including your collaborator) on the top of your homework.

2)  You must write all answers in your own words.

3)  You must be able to fully explain your answers upon demand.


Failure to meet any of the above conditions could constitute plagiarism and will be considered cheating in this class.


SC700 - Modern Information Protocols
Professor Ari Trachtenberg
Boston University