Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia

Distributed Systems



Academic unit

Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia


Departamento de Informática



Teacher in charge

Nuno Manuel Ribeiro Preguiça, Sérgio Marco Duarte

Weekly hours


Teaching language



This is an optional consolidation course on distributed systems. It provides the basic knowledge on the models, methods and techniques for developing distributed systems. As prerequisites students should have previous acquaintance with algorithms, programming, and computer networks.


  • Problems and challenges for the design of distributed systems;
  • Architectural models for building distributed systems;
  • Models and systems for direct and indirect communication;
  • Alternatives for naming, including name and directory services;
  • Essential solutions for ordering and tracking causality of events;
  • Basic consistency models and solutions for caching and replication.


  • Design a distributed system for solving a non-trivial problem.
  • Leverage standard communication sub-systems for programming distributed systems;
  • Program non-trivial distributed systems.


As prerequisites students should have previous acquaintance with algorithms, programming, and computer networks.

Good Java programming skills are essential.

Subject matter

1. Introduction

1.1 Examples, characteristics, challenges 

2. Direct communication

2.1 Point-to-point communication

2.2 Multicast

3. Remote invocation

3.1 Model

3.2 Interfaces and data representation

3.3 Protocols and semantics in the presence of faults

3.4 Binding and concurrency in the server

4. Remote invocation in the Internet

4.1 Web-services

4.2  REST

4.3 Asynchronous invocation (e.g. AJAX) and push models

5. Indirect communication

5.1 Group communication

5.2 Publish/subscribe

5.3 Message queues

6. Architectures and models

6.1 Architectures: client/server variants, p2p, proxy

6.2 Fault, interaction and security models

7 Security

7.1 Models

7.2 Cryptography

7.3 Case studies: TLS, OAuth

8. Time

8.1 Physical clocks

8.2 Logical clocks

8.3 Vector clocks

8.4 Version vectors

9. Introduction to replication and consistency

9.1 Caching

9.2 Primary/backup replication

10. Naming in distributed systems

10.1 Problems and concepts

10.2 Name services

10.3 Directory services


Distributed Systems: Concepts and Design

George Coulouris, Jean Dollimore, Tim Kindberg, Gordon Blair

Publisher: Addison Wesley; 5th edition

ISBN-13: 978-0132143011