6.852J Distributed Algorithms


6.852 (Distributed Algorithms) will consist of lectures, problem sets, and term projects. No exams. All activities should be doable remotely.

1. Lectures:

These will be held over Zoom. We like interaction, so we think it would be great if everyone could attend in person, at least most of the time, and ask questions and offer comments. However, for cases where this is not feasible, we will record the Zoom sessions and post the recordings on the course Stellar web site. We will also post Powerpoint lecture slides.

We don't require lecture attendance, but we will encourage it by having "class participation" count as part of a small "subjective" component of the grade (which also includes other things such as meeting with staff during office hours and helping with grading problem sets). If you cannot participate in lectures, participating in other ways will be sufficient for you to score full points on participation.

2. Problem sets:

We encourage group discussion of key ideas for solving the problems, though you must write up solutions on your own. Thus, you might want to join a problem set discussion group. We will set up some kind of sign-up mechanism to help you find others to work with. You can meet with your group however you like, in person or remotely. Problem sets will be submitted on-line, most likely using Gradescope.

Teams of students will grade the pset problems, working under the supervision of the course TAs. This will all be done on-line. Each student will grade only a very few problems, for the entire class.

3. Term projects:

A highlight of the course is the group term projects. These can be theoretical research, experimental research, or reading projects. You will have wide latitude in choosing projects (within the general scope of distributed computing theory); we will suggest some possibilities but these are only suggestions.

You should work in groups of 2-4 students. Again, we will help with a mechanism to help you find others to work with, but then you can meet with your group however you like. Course projects will have suggested "mentors" (a member of the staff or an outside person), who will meet with the group using a mutually convenient method.

4. Office hours:

The course instructor and the TAs will hold regular office hours, at a variety of times that should accommodate students in different time zones. If no office hours are possible for you, we will work with you to find additional times. In general, the course staff will work with you to find mutually acceptable meeting times.

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