Distributed system exams

Last week was the finals week at UB. I gave my final exam on distributed systems on Monday.

Many factors go into designing the exam. In a written exam, especially when you have a large class (mine was 75 students), you have to consider the ease of reading/grading the questions. So instead of asking open ended questions, I ask short answer questions such that the space provided under each question is enough to give complete answers. Secondly, since it is impossible to cover everything the course taught, I try to hit the salient points. Finally, I make sure that I ask sufficient number of straightforward questions so that the students that did a decent job of following the course and studying can get about 70 points out 100.

This link shows the final with solutions. I solve the final during the exam while my two TAs and occasionally I proctor the exam.

And this link shows the midterm I gave earlier in the semester. Note the Paxos question, question # 4. I tried to keep the question brief and concrete. A student that understands the Paxos protocol can answer easily, but a student that memorized some facts about Paxos without fully understanding it will not be able to solve 4.3 and 4.4.

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