CS 438 - Operating Systems Analysis

Fall 2004


I still don't understand where all the computer time goes in time-sharing installations, and neither does anyone else.

--- John McCarthy, Reminiscences on the History of Time Sharing

Table of Contents

Course Description

This an introductory course in operating systems concepts. Check the course catalog entries for more information about CS 438.

You should be a proficient programmer and have a working knowledge of basic algorithms and data structures. The prerequisites for this class are Computer Algorithms I (CS 305), and Computer Architecture I (CS 286).

The course is divided into four three-week sections, with each section covering a major part of an operating system. See the syllabus for details.

The class meets in Howard Hall L512 (go past Howard Hall to Pollak Auditorium; make a left at the Auditorium doors; L512 is the lecture hall past the Box Office) on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:00 to 5:50 p.m. Tuesday, 9 November, is the last day you can withdraw from the class with a W. There will no be class on Thursday, 25 November (Thanksgiving).

Objectives

The objectives of this course are to learn the basics of operating systems: their structure, design and implementation. At the end of this course, you should:

Instructor

R. Clayton, Howard B-13, rclayton@monmouth.edu, 732 263 5522. Office hours are Mondays and Wendesdays, 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. in my office. I'm also usually happy to talk to you any time you can catch me; setting up an appointment is recommended, see my schedule for details.

Grading

There will be four tests, given at the end of each three-week section; see the syllabus for the schedule. Tests will be given in class, and are closed book with no notes; calculators and computers will not be necessary. The tests are cumulative, covering everything taught up to and including the class before the test. Tests should take no more than an hour to complete, and will be given in the first half of the class. Test answers will be made available off the syllabus.

There will be four programming assignments, one for each three-week section; see the project description for details.

There are no mid-term or final exams; for those that need them, mid-term grades will be computed as the straight, unweighted average of the test and programming assignment grades completed by the mid-term.

The final grade is a straight, unweighted average of the seven highest test scores and programming assignment grades; that is, there are seven grades total - the lowest grade is dropped - and each remaining grade constitutes one-seventh of your final grade.

I use the usual grade ranges:
95 <=A
90 <=A-< 95
86.6<=B+< 90
83.3<=B < 86.6
80 <=B-< 83.3
76.6<=C+< 80
73.3<=C < 76.6
70 <=C-< 73.3
60 <=D < 70
F < 60
All grades are kept with one digit of precision to the right of the decimal point and 0.05 rounded up. No grades are adjusted to a curve; that means that 89.9 is always B+, never an A-.

Media

Textbook

The textbook is Operating Systems, third edition by Gary Nutt, Addison Wesley, 2004. With errata.

This is a programming course, and you will be writing C++ programs. It is a good idea to have on hand a book about C++ programming. If you're going to buy a book, I recommend the C++ Primer, third edition, by Lippman and Lajoie (Addison-Wesley, 1998). The department uses C++ How to Program by Deitel and Deitel (Prentice Hall, 2001) in its programming classes, and you'll be o.k. if you have or can borrow a copy to use.

E-mail

You should feel free to send me e-mail. Unless I warn you beforehand, I'll usually respond within a couple of hours; if I don't respond within a day, resend the message.

Mail relevant to the class will be stored in a hyper-mail archive. If your message is of general interest to the class, I'll store it, suitably stripped of identification and along with my answer, in the archive.

Home page

If you're reading this on paper, you can find the class home page at http://www.monmouth.edu/rclayton/web-pages/f04-438-505/438-index.html. I'll make the class notes, assignments, and tests available off the syllabus; you should get in the habit of checking the home page and syllabus regularly.

Policies

Assistance

People who need assistance or accommodations above and beyond what is usually provided in class should contact the University's ADA/504 coordinator to get those needs met. See me or the Disability Services page for more details.

Attendance

I have no class attendance policy; you may attend class or not as you see fit. However, I hold you responsible for knowing everything that goes on in class; "I wasn't in class for that." is not an acceptable excuse for a wrong answer, or for giving no answer at all.

My attendance policy applies only to lecture attendance; it does not apply to other kinds of attendance which may be required for the course. Repeated failures to meet the attendance expectations set for tests, meetings, projects, labs or other forms of course work will have a bad influence on your grade.

Monmouth University does have a class attendance policy, which you can find in the Academic Information chapter of the Student Handbook. To the extent that I need to keep the record straight, I will take attendance. Attendance lists, however, are entirely for the University's benefit; I will make no use of them in grading.

Cheating

I deal with suspected cheating by failing first and asking questions later. Although cheating has many forms, I generally consider cheating to be any attempt to claim someone else's work as your own; also, I consider both the provider and the user of the work guilty of cheating. See the chapters on Academic Information and the Student Code of Conduct in the Student Handbook for more details.

Complaining about Grades

I recognize and encourage a student's sacred right to complain about their grade. There are, however, a few rules under which such complaining should take place, and those students who don't follow the rules will be less successful in their complaints than those students who do follow the rules.

First, the only complaint that matters is that something got marked wrong when it was actually right. When you come to complain, be prepared to present, in explicit detail, what it is you did and why you think it's right.

Second, complaints about a particular test or assignment are only valid until the next test or assignment is due; after that point the book is permanently closed on all previous test or assignment grades.

Late Assignments

Assignments must be turned in by their due date; assignments turned in after their due date are late. You should contact me as soon as possible if you need to negotiate a due-date extension. The longer you wait to negotiate, the less likely it is you'll be successful; in particular, you have almost no chance of getting an extension if you try for one the day before the due date, and you have no chance of getting an extention on the due date.

A late assignment is penalized five points a day for each day it's late. I use a 24-hour clock running from midnight to midnight to measure days; note this means that an assignment handed in the day after it's due is penalized ten points: five for the day it was due and five for the next day.

Missing Tests

There may occasionally be a conflict between taking a test and doing something else, particularly among those working full time. If you're going to be out of town, or on jury duty, or whatever, on a test day, let me know beforehand and we'll discuss a make-up test.

A make-up test must be scheduled to be taken by the date of the test following the missed test (or the final exam if you miss the last test). If a missed test is not made up by the time of the next test, you get a zero for the missed test.

There will be only one make up given per missed test. If more than one person misses the same test, those people will have to coordinate among themselves to pick a mutually agreeable date for the make up.

Links

The previous time I taught this course.

An OS web ring.

Not for computers only: a pre-emptive, multitasking, open-source operating system for LEGO Mindstorms (and it supports POSIX semaphores too).

OS News, a web site with os news and opinions.

A FAQ on building your own operating system. It appears to be Linux and PC-centric, but it'll give you some idea of what you're missing when writing to a simulator.

The ER and KeyK OSs from U. Penn.

And let us not forget the dearly departed: OS/2, VMS, multics.

And let us welcome the newcomers: V2, the Gemini nucleus, the NewOS, and AtheOS.

And let us know how they all stand, each to the others.


This page last modified on 14 November 2004.