Textbook

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Course Reading Materials

Computer networks are evolving rapidly, and in many ways. New technologies like Wimax are becoming available; perhaps the world-wide web is changing with the so-called Web 2.0 software; new applications, such as social networks recently have high visibility; the economics of computer networks and we now have heated debates about what is fair and net neutrality. It's no wonder that textbooks can't keep up with all of this.

Books

There are many excellent textbooks I've used: Peterson and Davie (ISBN 155860832X), Kurose and Ross (ISBN 0321227352), Tanenbaum (ISBN 0130661023), Comer (ISBN 0131433512), and many more. Use these books to understand deeply the internals of networks, how they are built, how they work and how they are tuned. However, if you will be more interested in being a user of a network, and not so interested in the design theory, these books may not help you so much.

For learning about very practical thinks like network administration, there are many specialty books that explain specific systems for Windows and Cisco operating systems; these books may have high, short-term value, but don't explain the big picture or principles very well, and aren't suitable for a general network course.

On specific topics, there are excellent monographs and technical books. Books explain how to program TCP/IP (ISBN 1558608265, ISBN 0201615894), how TCP/IP is implemented in operating systems (ISBN 0596002556), how content networks and protocols work (ISBN 1558608346), discuss web services (ISBN 3540440089), service-oriented architecture (ISBN 0131858580), and too many others to even think about. The trouble with these books is that we don't need all the material from them, and there are too many publishers to get a nice, coordinated, on-demand textbook.

There are also some interesting books with a point of view or condensed wisdom about computer networking (ISBN 0131001523, ISBN 0684809303) or interesting case studies and stories (ISBN 1416507787). These can be valuable to enrich the course content, and I may borrow from parts of them, but you need not read them for the course.

Online Resources

Just about anything technical is documented somewhere, and freely downloadable, using a web browser. Very technical articles in journals and conferences may sometimes be read online, but only using a University of Iowa workstation, which gives you access to library resources.

For this course, I freely use Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, which is quite up-to-date, though sometimes unreliable, faulty, and even just wrong. If you search on some topic, using the search box at the left side of this web page, your search will be directed to Wikipedia. Many technical terms or even non-technical, general terms like computer networks can be found there; I've made a special type of link in this course wiki. Though I use Wikipedia very often, one should be careful depending on its accuracy:

There are many other criticisms of Wikipedia. However, especially for hard-core technical topics on networking, which are not controversial, the information is usually an excellent first reference with pointers to more authoritative sources.

I'll have other online readings during the course and make assignments based on these readings.

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