CSE 221: Graduate Operating Systems

Fall 2005

Keith Marzullo (marzullo@cs.ucsd.edu)
CSE 3126
(858) 534-3729
Geoff Voelker (voelker@cs.ucsd.edu)
CSE 3108
(858) 822-3323
Section A00
Mon/Wed 5pm - 6:20pm
Center Hall 216
Section B00
Tue/Thu 9:30am - 10:50am
Warren Lecture Hall (WLH) 2206
Teaching Assistant
Sean O'Rourke (sorourke@cs.ucsd.edu)
CSE 4256
Office Hours
Voelker: Mon 3-4pm, Wed 4-5pm (or by appointment)
Marzullo: TBD
O'Rourke: Wed 12:30-1:30pm
I would strongly recommend an undergraduate operating systems textbook as a reference. The text I use in CSE 120 is:
Silberschatz, Operating System Concepts, Wiley, 6th Edition (Windows XP Update)
ISBN 0-471-25060-0

   Course Objectives

The purpose of this course is to teach computer software system structures from a design point of view. We will look at different structuring techniques, and we will examine their usage in both important historical systems and in modern systems.

In addition to learning about different system structures and different operating systems, you will learn:

  • How to read a research paper in an objective manner.
  • How to write a critical analysis of the research described in a paper.
  • How to articulate your understanding of and insights into a research paper.
  • How to synthesize research themes and topics across multiple papers.
   Reading List

We will be reading and discussing two papers each class period according to the following schedule:

   Class Participation

The structure of this class is unusual in that there are no lectures or presentations during the class period. Instead, we will discuss research papers that we will have all read before each class period. I will lead discussions by asking questions of students at random in class. Note that your answers to these questions form an appreciable portion of your overall grade, so it is important that you both show up to class as well as read the papers carefully.

Because of the unusual format of this class, I will not grade you on class participation during the first two weeks of class.

Occasionally, students have to miss class for one good reason or another (e.g., present a paper at a conference, go on a business trip). If you find yourself in this situation, contact me ahead of time to let me know you will be gone. Since you will not be in class to participate in discussion, I also ask that you write a brief evaluation of the papers for the class that you will miss. Your evaluation should address the following questions:

  • What problem does the paper address?
  • How is it different from previous work, if any?
  • What is the approach used to solve the problem?
  • How does the paper support or otherwise justify its arguments and conclusions?
  • Was the paper, in your judgement, successful in addressing the problem?

Your evaluation should be concise, with just one to a few sentences per question. Also, below each paper on the reading list is a question specific to the paper topic. Please conclude your evaluation by answering this question. Email your evaluations to me.

  We will have 3 written homeworks.

  In the course project you will measure various aspects of system performance.


We will have one exam at the end of the quarter. Questions on the exam will be similar to questions on the homework and in the reading list. The exam is closed notes. Two past exams that you can use as study aids are:

  The grading breakdown for the course is:
  • Class participation: 25%
  • Homework: 15%
  • Project: 30%
  • Final: 30%