Distributed Computing
ETH Zurich

Discrete Event Systems (HS 2009)

Over the past few decades the rapid evolution of computing, communication, and information technologies has brought about the proliferation of new dynamic systems. A significant part of activity in these systems is governed by operational rules designed by humans. The dynamics of these systems are characterized by asynchronous occurrences of discrete events, some controlled (e.g. hitting a keyboard key, sending a message), some not (e.g. spontaneous failure, packet loss).

The mathematical arsenal centered around differential equations that has been employed in systems engineering to model and study processes governed by the laws of nature is often inadequate or inappropriate for discrete event systems. The challenge is to develop new modeling frameworks, analysis techniques, design tools, testing methods, and optimization processes for this new generation of systems.

In this lecture we give an introduction to discrete event systems. We start out the course by studying popular models of discrete event systems, such as automata and Petri nets. In the second part of the course we analyze discrete event systems. We first examine discrete event systems from an average-case perspective: we model discrete events as stochastic processes, and then apply Markov chains and queuing theory for an understanding of the typical behavior of a system. In the last part of the course we analyze discrete event systems from a worst-case perspective using the theory of online algorithms and adversarial queuing.

Course language: German

Lecture by Prof. Roger Wattenhofer and Dr. Kai Lampka Thursday 13.15-15.00 @ ETF E1.

Exercises by Raphael Eidenbenz and Jasmin Smula Thursday 15.15-17.00 @ ETF E1.

Exam Review

You can take a look at your exam until the end of March. To do so, please go to our secretary Monica Fricker (office ETZ G88) during the following office hours:
Monday: 14-17
Wednesday: 9-12


The exam is scheduled for Saturday, 30. January 2010, from 9:00 to 12:00 at HG E3.
You may use any written material like scripts, your own notes, exercise sheets, books, etc...
All electronical devices (computers, calculators, cell phones, etc...) are not allowed during the exam!

In order to get a feeling of our exam style, you may have a look at this sample exam and the sample solutions.

Question Session

We will hold a question session in which we (try to) answer your questions about this lecture. The session is on Tuesday, 19. January 2010, 14:00 - 15:00 at ETZ F78.1
Please send us your questions ahead of time, at the latest until Monday, 18. January 2010 at 14:00 by email to either of the assistants.

Question Wiki

We try to keep all answered questions (not the ones we answer in the question session, though) publicly available on this Question Wiki such that everyone can profit.

Lecture Notes

The following documents are lecture notes of former students. (We provide no guarantee that these documents are correct!)

Lecture material

Title Slides Additional Material References

Chapter 0
PDF 1:1
PDF 4:1

Chapter 1
Automata and Languages
PDF 1:1
PDF 4:1

Chapter 2
Smarter Automata
PDF 1:1
PDF 4:1

Chapter 3a
Petri Nets
PDF 1:1
PDF 4:1

Chapter 3b
CTL Model Checking
PDF 1:1
PDF 4:1

Chapter 3c
Binary Decision Diagrams
PDF 1:1
PDF 4:1

Chapter 4
Stochastic Discrete Event Systems
PDF 1:1
PDF 4:1

Chapter 5
Worst Case Event Systems
PDF 1:1
PDF 4:1
Mario und Luigi

Chapter 6
Network Calculus
PDF 1:1
PDF 4:1

Exercise material

Title Exercise Sample Solution

Exercise 1
Assigned: 17/09/2009
Due: 24/9/2009
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Exercise 2
Assigned: 24/9/2009
Due: 1/10/2009
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Exercise 3
Assigned: 1/10/2009
Due: 8/10/2009
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Exercise 4
Assigned: 8/10/2009
Due: 15/10/2009
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Exercise 5
Assigned: 15/10/2009
Due: 22/10/2009
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Exercise 6
Assigned: 22/10/2009
Due: 29/10/2009
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Exercise 7
Assigned: 29/10/2009
Due: 5/11/2009
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Exercise 8
Assigned: 5/11/2009
Due: 12/11/2009
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Exercise 9
Assigned: 12/11/2009
Due: 19/11/2009
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Exercise 10
Assigned: 19/11/2009
Due: 26/11/2009
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Exercise 11
Assigned: 26/11/2009
Due: 3/12/2009
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Exercise 12
Assigned: 3/12/2009
Due: 10/12/2009
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Exercise 13
Assigned: 10/12/2009
Due: 17/12/2009
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Exercise 14
Assigned: 17/12/2008
Due: 24/12/2009
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You do not need a Testat to attend the final exam. However, if you need a Testat, e.g. because you don't intend to take the final exam, but need an attestation that you attended the class, you need to hand in at least 80% of the exercises.


[exorciser] Exorciser - Interaktive Lernsoftware für theoretische Informatik
[bertsekas] Data Networks
Dimitri Bersekas, Robert Gallager
Prentice Hall, 1991, ISBN: 0132009161
[borodin] Online Computation and Competitive Analysis
Allan Borodin, Ran El-Yaniv.
Cambridge University Press, 1998
[boudec] Network Calculus
J.-Y. Le Boudec, P. Thiran
Springer, 2001
[cassandras] Introduction to Discrete Event Systems
Christos Cassandras,Stephane Lafortune.
Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1999, ISBN 0-7923-8609-4
[fiat] Online Algorithms: The State of the Art
A. Fiat and G. Woeginger
[hochbaum] Approximation Algorithms for NP-hard Problems (Chapter 13 by S. Irani, A. Karlin)
D. Hochbaum
[murata] Petri Nets: Properties, Analysis and Applications
Tadao Murata
Proceedings of the IEEE, vol. 99, issue 4, April 1989. pp. 541--580
[schickinger] Diskrete Strukturen (Band 2: Wahrscheinlichkeitstheorie und Statistik)
T. Schickinger, A. Steger
Springer, Berlin, 2001
[sipser] Introduction to the Theory of Computation
Michael Sipser.
PWS Publishing Company, 1996, ISBN 053494728X
[baier] Principles of Model Checking
Christel Baier and Joost-Pieter Katoen
MIT Press