Computer Systems (810:240), Fall 2003

Time and Place: 8:00-9:15 AM Tuesday and Thursday in Wright 8

Instructor: Mark Fienup (

Office: Wright Hall 321

Phone: 273-5918 (Home 266-5379)

Office Hours: M 10-12, 2-3; T 3:30-4:30; W 10-12, 2-3; Th 3:30-4:30; F 10-11

Prerequisites: You should have successfully completed an undergraduate Computer Organization/Architecture course. If you have not, you should talk to me individually.

Course Goals: After this course, you should have a thorough understanding of the design issues of a uniprocessor computer system. If time permits, we will also examine multiprocessor and networked computer systems. We'll try to focus on the relationship between system hardware and software.

Text: "Computer Architecture - a Quantitative Approach" by Hennessy and Patterson, third edition, Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, ISBN 1-55860-596-7.

Assignments: Several types of assignments will be assigned, including "pencil-and-paper" exercises, possibly some programming exercises, term paper, and student presentations.

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, a small part (5%) of your grade will be based on your participation of these in-class activities. Students benefit by (1) increased depth of understanding by staying awake in class, (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: 19 %

Term Paper: 10 % (Due on Monday, December 8)

Test 1: 22 % (October 2)

Test 2: 22 % (November 18)

Final: 22 % (8-9:50 AM Tuesday, December 16)

Grades will be assigned based on straight percentages off the top student score. If the top student 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 213 Student Services Center. Their phone number is 319/273-2676.