COMPSCI 711 : Parallel and Distributed Computing


2024 Semester One (1243) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Computer architectures and languages for exploring parallelism, conceptual models of parallelism, principles for programming in a parallel environment, different models to achieve interprocess communication, concurrency control, distributed algorithms and fault tolerance. Recommended preparation: COMPSCI 320 or 335

Course Overview

This course focuses on algorithms and techniques for developing parallel and distributed applications and their architectures and systems. Parallel computing on a single computer uses multiple processors to process tasks in parallel, whereas distributed parallel computing uses multiple computing devices to process those tasks. In this course, students will explore distributed consensus, the CAP theorem, logical time, multicast, mutex, garbage collection, snapshots, deadlock detection, web caching, resource looking up in the P2P system, blockchain, multiprocessor scheduling, and multiprocessor caching.

Course Requirements

No pre-requisites or restrictions

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 3: Knowledge and Practice
Capability 4: Critical Thinking
Capability 5: Solution Seeking
Capability 6: Communication

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Use different ways in representing orders in distributed systems and the complexity of different approaches (Capability 3, 4, 5 and 6)
  2. Discuss and evaluate the algorithmic complexity in capturing the states of distributed systems (Capability 3, 4 and 5)
  3. Describe and discuss the problems and algorithms for reaching consensus in distributed systems and its applications (Capability 3, 4, 5 and 6)
  4. Discuss and evaluate the algorithms for managing resources in parallel and distributed systems. (Capability 3, 4 and 5)
  5. Demonstrate an understanding of the tradeoffs in modern parallel & distributed systems design in terms of consistency, availability and partition tolerance. (Capability 3, 4 and 5)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Assignments 30% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 70% Individual Examination
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5
Final Exam


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Key Topics

  • Distributed searches
  • Distributed consensus
  • The CAP theorem
  • Logical time
  • Distributed snapshots
  • Mutual exclusion
  • Concurrency controls
  • Deadlock detection
  • Distributed garbage collection
  • Scheduling problems

Special Requirements

Must attain a pass grade overall.

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15-point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15-point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect:

  • 3 hours of lectures
  • 4 hours of reading and thinking about the content 
  • 3 hours of work on assignments and/or test preparation

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is expected at scheduled activities.

Lectures will be available as recordings.

The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable.

Learning Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

Teaching materials are based on published papers.

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

Some students felt the assignments are difficult as they do not know C# programming. For students who intend to take this course and have not done COMPSCI 335, it is a good idea to self-study C# before the course starts. 

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed for potential plagiarism or other forms of academic misconduct, using computerised detection mechanisms.

Sharing assignment solutions and source code does not help learning. Consequently, our academic integrity policy does not permit sharing of solutions or source code leading to solutions, nor does it allow sourcing solutions or source code from any third party. Violation of this will result in your assignment submission attracting no marks, and you may face further disciplinary action. Therefore, please do not share assignments, assignment solutions and/or source code leading to assignment solutions, or use material from others in your assignments. You must not publish assignments or solutions in any form online at any time. You will be liable if someone copies your solution. There are also copyright and IP issues. Please come talk to us if you have any doubts about what is legitimate and what is not.

You can refer to online tutorials and resources. However, please learn from them and implement the solutions yourself based on what you learnt from those sources. Do not blindly copy from online sources. If there is a real need to copy some code snippet, please ensure (a) you understand and are able to explain what the code snippet does, and (b) cite the source in a comment directly above the snippet.
Don't leave your computers, devices, and belongings unattended — you must secure these at all times to prevent anyone from having access to your assignments or solutions. If others are found to have used your solution, you will also face disciplinary action.

You must understand the academic integrity expectations of the School of Computer Science available at

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

You are not allowed to publish any solutions you develop for any of the assignments used in this course.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption, we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course students may be asked to submit coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.

Published on 31/10/2023 10:51 a.m.