MSIN Core Course Descriptions

Course descriptions are provided below for the Pittsburgh MSIN Core Courses and the Cyber Forensics and Incident Response Track.

Core Courses 

All students are required to take the following core courses as part of the MSIN curriculum.

Networking and Systems Requirement

(14-642 or 15-605) AND [(18-756 or 14-740 or 15-641) AND two courses in software sys/networking or signal processing/communications) or (15-641 and three courses in software sys/networking or signal processing/communications)] AND (18-842 or 15-640 or 18-746)

14-642 Introduction to Embedded Systems

Fall: 12 units. (MSINs should take in the first fall.) This practical, hands-on course introduces students to the basic building-blocks and the underlying scientific principles of embedded systems. The course covers both the hardware and software aspects of embedded procesor architectures, along with operating system fundamentals, such as virtual memory, concurrency, task scheduling and synchronization. Through a series of laboratory projects involving state-of-the-art processors, students will learn to understand implementation details and to write assembly-language and C programs that implement core embedded OS functionality and that control/debug features such as timers, interrupts, serial communications, flash memory, device drivers and other components used in typical embedded applications. Relevant topics, such as optimization, profiling, digital signal processing, feedback control, real-time operating systems and embedded middleware, will also be discussed.

15-641 Computer Networks

Fall: 12 units. This is an introductory course in computer networks with emphasis on the basic performance and engineering tradeoffs in the design and implementation of computer networks. To make the issues more concrete, the class includes several multi-week projects requiring significant design and implementation. The goal is for students to learn not only what computer networks are and how they work today, but also why they are designed the way they are and how they are likely to evolve in the future. We will draw examples primarily from the Internet. Topics to be covered include: congestion/flow/error control, routing, addressing, naming, multi-casting, switching, internetworking and network security. Evaluation is based on homework assignments, projects and two mid-term exams. Prerequisite: 15-513 Introduction to Computer Systems.

14-740 Fundamentals of Telecommunications and Computer Networks

Fall or Spring: 12 units. 14-740 is a graduate-level, first-course in computer and telecommunication networks. There is no prerequisite of an undergraduate equivalent, but basic computer, programming and probability theory background is required. The primary objective of this course is for you to learn the fundamental principles underlying computer and telecommunication networks. Using a top-down approach, we will cover topics in the application, transport, network and link layers of the protocol stack. We will also go over advanced topics, including network management, traffic engineering and router internals. Besides learning about the nuts and bolts, you will gain an understanding in engineering tradeoffs made and design principles used in computer and telecommunication networks. Another objective is for you to apply some of this knowledge in the context of systems projects. We will follow an aggressive pace in this course. Note: This class has a limited enrollment.

18-756 Packet Switching and Computer Networks

Fall: 12 units. This class is designed to provide graduate students an understanding of the fundamental concepts in computer networks of the present and the future. In the past, the scarce and expensive resource in communication networks has been the bandwidth of transmission facilities. Accordingly, the techniques used for networking and switching have been chosen to optimize the efficient use of this resource. These techniques have differed according to the type of information carried: circuit switching for voice and packet switching for data. It is expected that elements of circuit and packet switching will be used in the integrated networks. This course focuses on packet switching for computer networks and protocol design. Topics in the course include: computer networks over-view; OSI layers, queueing theory; data link protocol; flow control; congestion control; routing; local area networks; transport layer. The current networks and applications will be introduced through the student seminars in the last weeks of the course. Prerequisite: either prior networking coursework or 18-345 Introduction to Telecommunication Networks and graduate standing.

18-842 Distributed Systems

Spring: 12 units. The primary objective of this class is to learn the fundamental principles underlying distributed systems, and apply some of this knowledge in developing a real system in a course project (such as a networked multimedia system or a groupware system with built-in mechanisms for supporting high availability). Topics include: models of distributed systems, distributed transactions, distributed filesystems, infrastructures for building distributed systems, distributed algorithms, cryptography and distributed security, overview of distributed multimedia applications, systems and networking support for distributed multimedia systems, distributed real-time systems. Prerequisites: (15-410 or 18-342) and (14-740 or 18-756 or 15-441).

15-605 Operating System Design and Implementation

Fall or Spring: 12 units. Operating System Design and Implementation is a programming-intensive OS class. It is a rigorous hands-on introduction to the principles and practice of operating systems. The core experience is writing a small Unix-inspired OS kernel, in C with some x86 assembly language, which runs on a PC hardware simulator (and on actual PC hardware if you wish). Work is done in two-person teams, and "team programming" skills (source control, modularity, documentation) are emphasized. The size and scope of the programming assignments typically result in students significantly developing their design, implementation, and debugging abilities. Core concepts include the process model, virtual memory, threads, synchronization, and deadlock; the course also surveys higher-level OS topics including file systems, interprocess communication, networking, and security. Students must be able to must be able to write a storage allocator in C, use a debugger, understand 2's-complement arithmetic, and translate between C and x86 assembly language. The instructor may require you to complete a skills assessment exercise before the first week of the semester in order to remain registered in the class.

Prerequisites: Achieve at least a "B" in 15-513 Introduction to Computer Systems with priority given to those who achive an "A".

Management Requirement

14-774 Managerial Economics

Fall or Spring: 6 units. (MSINs should take in the first fall.) This class presents the basic concepts of microeconomics theory with an emphasis on business applications. The approach of microeconomics is to solve an economic problem by modeling it as an optimization problem; the solution to the optimization problems then interpreted in terms of the original economic problem. This approach will be used to answer such problems as input selection, pricing and project selection. The format of the class is to present theory common to a general class of applied problems and then to apply the theory by solving actual problems. The goal of the class is for the students to be capable of applying the basic concepts to problems faced both future classes (e.g. finance, macroeconomics) and future careers.

14-775 Business Management

Fall or Spring: 6 units. (MSINs should take 14-775 in the first fall or first spring semester.) This class includes management functions such as accounting (reading and understanding financial statements, basic cost analysis and budgeting), finance (project evaluation and capital budgeting), human relations (motivation and organization of work), marketing (distribution and consumer behavior) and operations (production planning and control). The importance of information systems is emphasized across all management functions.

Courses Under the Cyber Forensics and Incident Response Track

MSIN and MSIS students located in Pittsburgh can pursue the Cyber Forensics and Incident Response Track. In the forensics track, students devote a security elective (12 units) and their curriculum option (36 units) to developing skills in both host/network computer forensics and digital investigations. Students are taught by faculty from the CERT Program and trained on state-of-the-art software. All courses progressively build on one another, providing concrete skills along the way.

By pursuing the forensics track, students will be able to perform digital forensic investigations based on a solid understanding of the fundamental nature of digital evidence and an ability to apply the analytic and investigative tools in a forensically sound manner.

14-761 Applied Information Assurance

Fall or Spring: 12 units. This course focuses on practical applications of Information Assurance (IA) policies and technologies in enterprise network environments. The course will include lecture and demonstrations, but is designed around a virtual lab environment and scenario that provides for robust and realistic hands-on experiences in dealing with a range of information assurance topic areas. Students will be provided numerous practical opportunities to apply information security practices and technologies to solve real-world IA problems.

14-822 Host-Based Forensics

Spring: 12 units. Host-Based Forensics provides a systematic introduction to the field of digital forensics. The course aims to familiarize students with the forensic process and to apply forensic principles with many tools of the trade. Upon completion of this course, a student should feel confident in participating in a digital forensic investigation. This course focuses on the forensic process (planning, acquisition, analysis, reporting) as it relates to host system forensics. Class periods will consist of lecture and exercises. Prerequisite: 14-761.

14-823 Network Forensics

Fall: 12 units. Network Forensics concentrates on the collection and analysis of evidence left on the network. Upon completion of this course, and its complement 14-822, a student will feel comfortable with the full scope of a digital forensic investigation. Class periods will consist of lecture and exercise. Students will learn about the data types that may have forensic value and will be introduced to several techniques for capturing data off the network and how each option impacts the data that is available. Students will be further presented with several incident response challenges on live networks and be tasked with determining and proving what happened. They will have to collect various logs, network traffic, create timelines and draw conclusions. Prerequisite: 14-761.

14-832 Cyber Forensics and Incident Response Capstone

Spring: 12 units. The CyFIR concentration capstone course challenges students by placing them in a series of hands-on exercises based on real world scenarios. Students will work together in groups to respond to and investigate large-scale corporate and government intrusions. Instructors will teach advanced event correlation and reconstruction techniques as well as emerging data collection and analysis approaches. Using both host-based and network-based forensics techniques, students will learn to effectively synthesize data, utilize problem solving skills to draw investigative conclusions, and document their analysis. Additionally, students will be required to follow sound forensic methodologies to protect and prepare digital evidence throughout their mock investigations. Furthermore, students will learn to effectively summarize and communicate their forensic analysis through technical report writing and communication best practices. Upon completion of this course, students will be prepared to participate in and guide enterprise cyber security incident response and forensic operations for large organizations.

Please note, the CyFIR Capstone is now a requirement for the Cyber Forensics and Incident Response Track that has replaced the three mini-courses (14-824, 14-825, and 14-826).