Computer Systems (810:240), Spring 2008

Time and Place: 2-3:15 Tuesday and Thursday in ITTC 322


Class Email List: Send messages to from your UNI account (let me know other email addesses that you want to use)

Instructor: Mark Fienup (

Office: ITTC 313

Phone: 273-5918 (Home 266-5379)

Office Hours: M 9-11:30, 1-2; T 9:30-10:45; W 1-2; Th 9:30-10:45; F 9-11:30

Prerequisites: You should have successfully completed an undergraduate Computer Organization/Architecture or Operating Systems 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 and multiprocessor computer system including the hardware support for the operating system. . We'll try to focus on the relationship between system hardware and software by programming for multiprocessor and networked ("clustered") computer systems.

Text: "Computer Organization and Architecture" by Stallings, seventh edition, Prentice Hall, ISBN 0-13-035119-9.

Assignments: Several types of assignments will be assigned, including "pencil-and-paper" exercises, 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, (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: 20 %

Term Paper: 5 % (Due on Monday, April 28)

In-class Test 1: 22 % (~February 28)

In-class Test 2: 23 % (April 10)

Final: 25 % (Wed, May 7 from 1-2:50 PM in ITT 322)

Grades will be assigned based on a curve. Plus and minus grades will be assigned for students near cutoff points.

Special Notice: In compliance with the University of Northern Iowa policy and equal access laws, I am available to discuss appropriate academic accommodations that may be required for students with disabilities. Requests for academic accommodations are to be made during the first three weeks of the semester, except for unusual circumstances, so arrangements can be made. Students are encouraged to register with Student Disability Services, 103 Student Health Center, to verify their eligibility for appropriate accommodations.