CSE 221: Graduate Operating Systems

Section A: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2:00-3:20, Room HSS 1128A
Section B: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 3:30-4:50, Room HSS 1128A

Course Instructor: Prof. Joseph Pasquale
- Office hours: by appointment (send email), in 3112 EBU3B (CSE Building).

Teaching Assistant: Ming Kawaguchi (please include CSE221 in subject of e-mails)
- Office hours: Mon/Wed, 5-6, in B240A EBU3B (CSE basement), or by appointment.

CSE221 webboard

Message of the Day

The course is over. Congratulations on completing, and good luck with your future studies.


This is an advanced class on operating systems where we critically review some of the more influential operating systems research literature. As a result of taking this class, you will learn the following:

Course Reading

Throughout your career, especially if you go into research, you will have to deal with the problem of staying current with an ever-growing body of research literature. As you progress, you will find that you have less and less time to spend reading papers. Consequently, it is important to learn how to get the most out of papers in the shortest amount of time.

The first problem is to determine what to read. Given the immense amount of written material that exists and continues to be generated, finding good papers by trial and error can be very inefficient. Fortunately, there are forums where the filtering is done for you; conferences such as SOSP and journals such as TOCS have developed a reputation for the level of scrutiny they use for accepting papers. These and other good forums are the sources of the papers that form our reading list. The papers form a good mix of the old and the new. These include classics -- papers that describe seminal ideas that have stood the test of time -- and modern papers that are a sampling of trends in current research. Keep in mind that these papers are a small subset of the good (even great) papers out there that could not be included due to space.

The second problem is getting the most out of a paper in the shortest amount of time. You must learn how to quickly identify what a paper is about, always seeking to identify the point -- the "big idea" -- of the paper. By developing a familiarity with the OS literature, you will then be able to compare a paper to other works, noting improvements, mistakes, and trends. Hopefully, this process will help you develop a taste for what is and isn't worth working on, an important quality for being a successful researcher.

Finally, this class involves A LOT of reading. Do your best to keep up. Do not be discouraged if, especially at first, you need to read a paper many times before you begin to understand it; this is normal. Make sure you allot enough time to do so.

Schedule (tentative)

  • Thursday, January 10
  • Tuesday, January 15
  • Thursday, January 17
  • Tuesday, January 22
  • Thursday, January 24 Tuesday, January 29 Thursday, January 31 Tuesday, February 5 Thursday, February 7 Tuesday, February 12 Thursday, February 14 Tuesday, February 19 Thursday, February 21 Tuesday, February 26 Thursday, February 28 Tuesday, March 4 Thursday, March 6 Tuesday, March 11 Thursday, March 13