CS 3650 - Computer Systems

Introduces the basic design of computing systems, computer operating systems, and assembly language using a RISC architecture. Describes caches and virtual memory. Covers the interface between assembly language and high-level languages, including call frames and pointers. Covers the use of system calls and systems programming to show the interaction with the operating system. Covers the basic structures of an operating system, including application interfaces, processes, threads, synchronization, interprocess communication, deadlock, memory management, file systems, and input/output control.

Interesting Stuff

Essential Resources


Section Location Time
02 BK 310 1:35pm-3:15pm Tu/Fr

Note: Prof. Gene Cooperman is running Section 01, which is structured differently. See his course page here: https://course.ccs.neu.edu/cs3650/

Staff & Office Hours

Name Location Hours Email
Nat Tuck NI 132 E 2pm-3pm Mo/Th ntuck ⚓ ccs.neu.edu
Anirudh Katipally WVH 462 3-4pm Mo katipally.a ⚓ husky.neu.edu
Anirudh Katipally WVH 166 3-4pm We katipally.a ⚓ husky.neu.edu
Jack Elliott WVH 462 11-noon Fr elliott.jame ⚓ husky.neu.edu
Evan White WVH 362 9-10am Tu white.eva ⚓ husky.neu.edu
Julian Hirn WVH 164 4-5:30pm Tu hirn.j ⚓ husky.neu.edu
Julian Hirn KA 204 12:30-2pm We hirn.j ⚓ husky.neu.edu
Savan Patel WVH 462 10-11am We patel.sav ⚓ husky.neu.edu
Nakul Camasamudram none none camasamudram.n ⚓ husky.neu.edu
Rashmi Dwaraka none none dwarakarashmi ⚓ ccs.neu.edu
Akshay Tandel none none akshaytandel09 ⚓ ccs.neu.edu


This is an initial schedule, subject to revision as the semester progresses.

Assignments will frequently be due at 11:59pm on Wednesday.

Week Starts Topics Work Due  
1 Jan 8 Intro; ASM: Basics -  
2 Jan 15 ASM: “Design Recipe”; Processes & Memory HW01: Linux Setup & ASM Basics  
3 Jan 22 ASM: Syscalls, I/O, Memory Allocation; C: Basics HW02: More ASM  
4 Jan 29 A Simple Tokenizer; C: The Heap & Simple Parser HW03: Shell Command Tokens  
5 Feb 5 Syscalls: fork, exec, waitpid; Building a Shell & pipe HW04: s-exp shell parser  
6 Feb 12 read, write, process table, vmem; shared mem & semaphore locks CH1: s-exp shell  
7 Feb 19 data races & deadlock; threads and mutexes HW05: inter-process comms  
8 Feb 26 cond vars and atomics; malloc: free lists HW06: inter-thread comms  
- Mar 5 Spring Break - -
9 Mar 12 malloc: optimizations & threads; OS Kernels HW07: memory allocator  
10 Mar 19 Looking at xv6; Storage Hardware HW08: examining xv6  
11 Mar 26 File Systems: FAT; File Systems: ext HW09: bonus topic  
12 Apr 2 The FUSE API; Modern File Systems HW10: simple FS  
13 Apr 9 Transactional FS; Solutions for Concurrency -  
14 Apr 16 Wrap-Up CH2: Transactional FS  

Recommended Readings by Week:

  1. P&H Ch 1, 2, Appendix A6, A9, A10, Green Card
  2. OSTEP ch 4, 13; P&H ch 2
  3. P&H 2.14
  4. OSTEP ch 14
  5. OSTEP ch 5
  6. OSTEP 15, 16, 18, 31; P&H 5.6, 5.7
  7. OSTEP 26, 27
  8. OSTEP 28, 30
  9. P&H ch 5.1 - 6.4
  10. OSTEP 37, 44
  11. OSTEP 39, 40, 41
  12. OSTEP 43
  13. OSTEP 46, 32, 33
  14. OSTEP 11, 24, 34, 51


There is no required textbook for this course.

Recommended reading:

Computer Organization and Design: The Hardware/Software Interface
Patterson & Hennessy
Fifth Edition

We’ll also be using these online resources:


Letter Grades

The number to letter mapping will be as follows:

95+ = A, 90+ = A-, 85+ = B+, 80+ = B, 75+ = B-, 70+ = C+, 65+ = C, 60+ = C-, 50+ = D, else = F

There may be a curve or scale applied to any assignment or the final grades, in either direction.


There’s a homework assignment due nearly every week.

The homework portion of your grade will include some “virtual” assignments which you’ll get a grade for but don’t require assignment submissions:


Challenges are just like homework, except they’re harder, worth more points, and they are graded more harshly. You’ll want to start early and plan to spend a lot of time on them.

Late Work

For all assignments except the last challenge, late submissions will be penalized by 1% for each hour late.

For the final assignment, late submissions will not be accepted.


Grade Challenges

Homework and project grades will be posted on Bottlenose. If you think your work was graded incorrectly, you can challenge your grade through the following procedure:

First, go to the office hours of the course staff member who graded your work. If you can convince them that they made a concrete error in grading, they will fix it for you.

If the grader doesn’t agree that the grade was wrong, you can issue a formal grade challenge. This follows a variant of the “coaches challenge” procedure used in the NFL.

Here’s the procedure:

Special Accomodations

Students needing disability accommodations should visit the Disability Resource Center (DRC).

If you have been granted special accomodations either through the DRC or as a student athlete, let me know as soon as possible.

Code Copying & Collabaration Policy

Copying code and submitting it without proper attribution is strictly prohibited in this class. This is plagiarism, which is a serious violation of academic integrity.


Lecture Notes

Lecture notes are not starter code, and should not be copied without attribution. As long as attribution is provided, there is no penalty for using code from the lecture notes.

Collaboration and Attribution:

Since it’s not plagiarism if you provide attribution, as a special exception to these rules, any code sharing with attribution will not be treated as a major offense.

There is no penalty for copying small snippets of code (a couple of lines) with attribution as long as this code doesn’t significantly remove the intended challenge of the assignment. This should be in a comment above these lines clearly indicating the source (including author name and URL, if any).

If you copy a large amount of code with attribution, you won’t recieve credit for having completed that portion of the assignment, but there will be no further penalty. The attribution must be obvious and clearly indicate both which code it applies to and where it came from.

Penalty for Plagarism

First offense:

Avoid copying code if you can. If you’re looking at an example, understand what it does, type something similar that is appropriate to your program, and provide attribution. If you must copy code, put in the attribution immediately, every time or you will fail the course over what feels like a minor mistake.