CS 294-7, Special Topics: Wireless Communications and Mobile Computing

A new interdisciplinary course on wireless communications and mobile applications, oriented towards computing systems graduate students


14 April 96:

The final report format is now available. Final reports are due on-line on Wednesday, May 8 at 5 PM.

23 January 96:

22 January 96:

Daniel Jiang has placed some information on the CS252 TA Web Page about setting your system up to read Acrobat/PDF files. See it here.

20 January 96:

Course Overview

Ubiquitous access to information, anywhere, anyplace, and anytime, will characterize whole new kinds of information systems in the 21st Century. These are being enabled by rapidly emerging wireless communications systems, based on radio and infrared transmission mechanisms, and utilizing such technologies as cellular telephony, personal communications systems, wireless PBXs, and wireless local area networks. These systems have the potential to dramatically change society as workers become "untethered" from their information sources and communications mechanisms. While there is a rich body of knowledge associated with radio system engineering, the needed expertise must build upon this to encompass network management, integration of wireless and wireline networks, system support for mobility, computing system architectures for wireless nodes/base stations/servers, user interfaces appropriate for small handheld portable devices, and new applications that can exploit mobility and location information.

Today, there exists no well-defined body of knowledge a student must learn to become proficient in wireless communications and mobile information systems. This is an emerging field, and builds on radio engineering, data communications, computer networks, distributed systems, information management, and applications. This course will follow an interdisciplinary "tall thin" approach, making the physical limitations of communications technologies understandable to the computer scientist, while making the system architecture and applications accessible to the electrical engineer. In the long tradition of advanced graduate courses at Berkeley, this one will combine extensive reading and in-class discussion of the research literature with in-depth independent research projects of the students' own choosing.

Course Curriculum

The material in the course, drawn mainly from the research literature, will be presented in a bottom-up fashion. Communications technologies are presented first, to form the foundation for further discussion. This is followed by discussions of networking, distributed systems, and applications. Representative topical details follow in the paragraphs below.


Overview of the emerging field of mobile computing; Historical perspectives (mainly from the perspective of radio); Land mobile vs. Satellite vs. In-building communications systems; RF vs. IR; Cellular telephony; Mobility support in cellular telephone networks; Personal Communications Systems/Personal Communications Networks; Wireless local area networks; Direct Broadcast Satellite; Low Earth Orbiting Satellites;


Spectrum allocation and characteristics; 850 MHz cellular telephone; 902-928 MHz ISM Band; 1.8 GHz PCS band; 2.4 GHz ISM band; Characteristics of higher frequencies, especially 5 GHz, 20 GHz, 40 GHz and beyond;

Simplified mobile radio environment: propagation characteristics, signal loss, multipath fading, interference; Design countermeasures: design margins, diversity, coding, equalization, and error correction;

Channel concept; Frequency division, time division, spread spectrum; Spectrum efficiency issues; Frequency reuse/cellular/microcellular concepts including sectorization and cell splitting;


Cellular telephony as a case study in network support: hand-off, mobility, roaming, billing/authorization/authentication;

Design decisions in European GSM, U.S. Digital TDMA, and U.S. Digital CDMA from the systems perspective;

Interplay of channel characteristics (e.g., power vs. bit error rate, multipath fading) and network protocol design;

Media access methods: Aloha network/carrier sense methods, Karn's MACA for packet radio;

Packet radio schemes; Survivable network design;

Mobile IP proposal and variations; Cellular Digital Packet Data (CDPD) standard;

Satellite systems: low-earth orbiting systems;

Symmetric vs. asymmetric communications schemes; Broadcast and multicast communications in a wireless context; Direct Broadcast Satellite systems; Description of commercially available wireless local area networking products;

Course Project Home Pages

Hari Balakrishnan and Elan Amir, Evaluation of Metricom Network.
Yatin Chawathe, Proxy Transcoder Manager.
Cliff Cordeiro, Mobile IP Security Consideration.
Armando Fox and Steve Gribble, Charon: Towards Safer Mobile Computing by Proxy
Ti-Howe Guai, Pricing Issues in Wireless Networks.
Todd Hodes, Service Beaconing in a Cellular Wireless Networks.
Remco Litjens, Fair and Conflict Free Scheduling of Broadcasts in Packet Radio Networks.
Giao Nguyen, Tracing Wireless Networks.
Venkat Padmanabhan, A "TCP-Friendly" Pseudo-Reliable Link Layer Protocol for Lossy Links.
Johnathan Reason, The Cost of Providing Privacy for Multimedia Services in a Wireless Network.
Dave Simpson and Richard Fromm, Metricom Network Simulation.
Mark Stemm, Vertical Handoff in Wireless Overlay Networks.
Tao Ye and Daniel Jiang, Link Level Resource Management in a Wireless Overlay Network.

Course Grading

Exams (two in-class midterms): 20%
Independent Research Project: 50%
Class Participation and Presentations: 30%

Instructor, Spring 1996

Recommended Textbook

Vijay Garg, Joseph Wilkes, Wireless and Personal Communications Systems, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1996.

Short Course Slides on Mobile Computing

Tentative Course Plan


17 January 96

19 January 96

22 January 96

Radio Propagation

24 January 96

Wireless Media Access

26 January 96

29 January 96

Note: Class held at special time, 10-11 AM, in 405 Soda. Randy at SPIE Conference.

31 January 96

2 February 96

Special double class meeting: 10 AM - noon in 405 Soda.

5 February 96

No Class! Randy at Georgia Tech.

Wireless Telecommunications Systems

7 February 96

No Class! Randy at Duke University.

9 February 96

Note: Special double class meeting, 10-Noon in 405 Soda. Special guest visit by Norm Abramson. Seminar @ 1 PM on "Spread Aloha".

12 February 96

Notes on Cellular Digital Packet Data in postscript and pdf.

14 February 96

16 February 96

19 February 96

President's Day Holiday

Packet Radio Networks

21 February 96

Note: Special visit by Donald Cox. CS Colloq Seminar on "PCS--What is it?"

23 February 96

26 February 96

Wireless Local Area Networks

28 February 96

1 March 96

4 March 96

6 March 96

Mobile IP

8 March 96

11 March 96

13 March 96

Wireless TCP

15 March 96

18 March 96

20 March 96

22 March 96

Mobile Handoff

1 April 96

3 April 96

5 April 96

Security and Authentication

8 April 96

10 April 96

12 April 96

Satellite Systems

Stuff on the Hughes Spaceway system is here.

15 April 96

17 April 96

19 April 96

22 April 96

24 April 96

System Projects

26 April 96

29 April 96

Guest Lectures

1 May 96

Project Presentations

3 May 96
6 May 96


Background Questionaire
What is a Decibel?
Suggested Projects
Glossary of Mobile Computing Terms
First project questionaire, due 21 February 1996.
Second project questionaire; due 6 March 1996.
First project checkpoint; due 18 March 1996.
Second project checkpoint; due 8 April 1996.
Final Project Report Format; due 8 May 1996.

Other Mobile Computing Courses on the World Wide Web

Columbia University
Harvard University
SUNY Buffalo
University of South Florida
University of Texas, Austin
Worcester Polytechnical Institute
Washington State University
Packet Radio Reading List
Jean-Paul Linnartz's notes for ee290i at Berkeley

Randy H. Katz, randy@cs.Berkeley.edu, Last Updated: 21 April 96