Discrete Event Systems

Module code: CO7211
Module co-ordinator: Michael Hoffmann

A discrete event system is a mathematical model of a system (such as computational device) that communicates with its environment by atomic actions (called events). For example, a user of the system pressing a button could send a signal to a controller. These events are assumed to be discrete in the sense that they occur instantaneously (as opposed to over a period of time).

In this module you will study different modelling and analysis techniques for discrete event systems. We will start by looking at sequential systems (where no two events can occur simultaneously) which can be modelled by finite automata. Then we will allow for events occurring simultaneously; these systems are modelled by Petri nets. We will also explore techniques that allow us to extract quantitative information about the behaviour of systems. This gives rise to the class of probabilistic systems (where we assume that a certain event occurs with a given probability) and we can then estimate the likelihood of situations such as system failure. Included in this section is an introduction to queuing theory.


  • 22 hours of lectures
  • 8 hours of seminars
  • 4 hours of tutorials
  • 116 hours of guided independent study


  • Exam, 2 hours (100%)