Course Description

Large-scale software systems like Google - deployed over a world-wide network of hundreds of thousands of computers - have become a part of our lives. These are systems success stories - they are reliable, available ("up" nearly all the time), handle an unbelievable amount of load from users around the world, yet provide virtually instantaneous results. On the other hand, many computer systems don't perform nearly as well as Google - hence the now-cliché "the system is down." In this class, we study the scientific principles behind the construction of high-performance, scalable systems. The course begins with a discussion of C language, and moves up the stack from there to the features of modern architectures, assembly languages, and operating system services such as I/O and synchronization. This course can be used as a "core" course for students in the CMPSCI minor. Prerequisites: CMPSCI 187 or ECE 242. 4 credits.

Note: The above is the official description of the course. The actual content focuses on programming in C, with excursions into bits, bytes, and data representation at the C and machine level, a little bit about the x86 instruction set, simple I/O, processes, pipes, memory hierarchy, and threads. Most homework assignments consist of C programming.

Further course materials (syllabus, etc.) are available to enrolled students via Moodle.