Computer Organization (810:041) Fall 2005

Time and Place: 2:00 - 3:15 PM Tuesday and Thursday in Wright 105 (NOT MSH 215)


Instructor: Mark Fienup (

Office: Wright Hall 321

Phone: 273-5918 (Home 266-5379)

Office Hours: M 9-10, 1-2; T 11-12; W 9-11, 1-2; Th 11-12; F 9-11

Pre- or Corequisite: Computer Science II (810:062) and Discrete Structures (810:080)

Goals: After this course, you should understand: (1) simple combinational and memory circuits used to build computer components, (2) how these circuits are organized to build a computer, (3) how data is represented and manipulated on the computer, (4) how to program in assembly language, (5) how high-level language programming languages are implemented with respect to the run-time stack and built-in data structures such as arrays and records, and (5) general concepts of hardware support necessary for an operating system.

Required Text: "Computer Organization and Design: The Hardware/Software Interface" by Patterson and Hennessy; Morgan Kaufmann Publishers; 2005; ISBN 1-55860-604-1. (Book will probably be used in Computer Architecture, 810:142, too!)

Assignments: Assignments will be both "pencil-and-paper" exercises and assembly-language programming.

Pedagogic Approach: In class, I'll tend to break up the lecture with active and group learning exercises to aid learning. While this is not formally graded, part (5%) of your grade will be based on your participation of these in-class activities. Students benefit by (1) increased depth of understanding, (2) increased comfort and confidence, (3) increased motivation, and (4) being better prepared to work in groups on the job. This might sound great, but it will require you (and me) to work differently to prepare for class. Before the class, you must read the assigned reading, thought about what I've asked you to think about, etc.; otherwise you won't be able to effectively participate in your group during class.

Grading policy: There will be three tests (including the final). I'll announce tests at least one week in advance to allow you time to prepare. Tentative weighting of course components is:

In-class Work: 5 %

Assignments: 24 %

In-class Test 1: 23 % (~September 29)

In-class Test 2: 23 % (~November 10)

Final: 25 % (Wednesday, December 14 from 1-2:50 PM in Wright 105)

Grades will be assigned based on straight percentages off the top student score. If the top student's score is 92%, then the grading scale will be, i.e., 100-82 A, 81.9-72 B, 71.9-62 C, 61.9-52 D, and below 52 F. Plus and minus grades will be assigned for students near cutoff points.

Special Notice: The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) provides protection from discrimination for qualified individuals with disabilities. Students with a disability, who require assistance, will need to contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS) for coordination of academic accommodations. The ODS is located at 103 Student Health Center. Their phone number is 319/273-2676.