CSE 120: Principles of Computer Operating Systems

Summer 2010 (Session I)

James W. Anderson (jwanderson@cs.ucsd.edu)
CSE 3146
Tue/Thu 2:00 – 4:50pm
Warren Lecture Hall 2207
Office Hours
Wed 2-4pm (CSE 3146) and by appointment
CSE basement
Silberschatz, Galvin, Gagne, Operating System Concepts, 8th Edition
John Wiley & Sons, Inc. ISBN 0-470-12872-0 (other editions also acceptable)
Class Mailing List
Anonymous feedback form

Course Objectives

This course covers the principles of operating systems. It emphasizes the basic concepts of OS kernel organization and structure, processes and threads, concurrency and synchronization, memory management, file systems, and communication. It is also a project course, providing essential experience in programming with concurrency, implementing and unmasking abstractions, working within an existing complex system, and collaborating with other students in a group effort.

Course Organization

The course is organized as a series of lectures by the instructor, reading, homework, project assignments, quizzes, and exams:


Homeworks are due at the beginning of class on the day specified. Homeworks are graded credit/no-credit based on whether you made an honest effort to answer the questions. Late homework will not be accepted. You must hand in a hardcopy of your homework; disagreements about the contents of emailed homeworks have caused too much grief in the past.

I encourage you to collaborate on the homeworks: You can learn a lot from your fellow students. However, there can be a fine line between collaboration and cheating. Collaboration consists of discussing problems with other students and independently writing your own answers to the problems based upon those discussions; as a rule of thumb, you should be able to discuss a homework problem in the library with others, go home, and then write up your answer to the problem on your own. Cheating consists of looking at other student's homeworks and copying the answers, looking at past homeworks and/or solutions from previous versions of the class, searching on the Web, etc.


The course has one tutorial project and three programming projects using the Nachos instructional operating system. You may work alone or in established pairs for each of the projects, and implementation approaches may be discussed across groups, but code cannot be shared across groups. The tutorial project is not graded; the remaining projects are each worth an equal portion of the project grade.

Projects must be turned in by 11:59PM on the day indicated. Late projects will not be accepted.


There will be a short quiz at the beginning of each class. Please be on time to be able to take the quiz. Missed quizzes may not be made up.


The course has two exams: a midterm and a final. The midterm will cover the first half of the class, and the final will cover the material for the entire quarter. Below are sample exams to help you study.


Your grade for the course will be based on your performance on the homeworks, midterm and final exams, and the three projects using the following weights:

However, you must get at least a 55% on the final to pass the class, regardless of your other scores.

Cheating: Do not cheat. All students are required to know and adhere to the UCSD Policy on Integrity of Scholarship (near middle of the page). Failure to do so will result in consequences outlined in the UCSD Policy. The academic honesty guidelines outlined by Charles Elkan for CSE 130 apply to this course.


Please come talk with me about any questions or concerns. If you prefer, you may submit anonymous comments or questions with this feedback form.

Course Schedule

The following table outlines the schedule for the course. We will update it as the quarter progresses. Please note the slides are from a previous quarter (courtesy of Geoff Voelker) and are provided for reference only.

Date Lecture Readings Homework Project
6/29 Course Intro :: OS Architectural Support :: Processes
Overview notes :: Intro notes :: Arch notes :: Processes notes
Fork handout
Chapters 1, 2, 3 Homework 1: Out Project 0: Out
7/01 Threads :: Synchronization
Threads handout
Chapters 4, 6   Project 0: Due
Project 1: Out
7/06 Semaphores and Monitors
Semaphores and Monitors notes
Semaphores and Monitors handout
Chapter 6 Homework 1: Due
Homework 2: Out
7/08 Scheduling and Deadlock
Scheduling and Deadlock notes
Chapters 5, 7   Project 1: Due
Project 2: Out
7/13 Memory Management :: Review
Memory Management notes
Chapter 8 Homework 2: Due
Homework 3: Out
7/15 Midterm Exam      
7/20 Paging
Paging notes
Chapter 9    
7/22 Page Replacement :: File Systems
Page Replacement notes :: File Systems notes
Chapters 9, 10, 11 Homework 3: Due
Homework 4: Out
Project 2: Due
Project 3: Out
7/27 FFS, LFS, and RAID :: RPC, NFS
LFS and FS consistency notes :: RPC, NFS notes :: RPC handout
Chapter 11.8, 11.9, 12.7    
7/29 Distributed Systems :: Course Summary, Final Review   Homework 4: Due Project 3: Due
7/31 Final Exam: 3:00pm – 6:00pm      

Supplemental Reading

The supplemental readings include primary sources and in-depth supplements for concepts in the class. Supplemental reading is for your own interest — the readings are not required, nor will you be tested on the material. Note that some of the links to the documents point to the ACM Digital Library. UCSD has a subscription to the ACM Digital Library, so you will need to use a web browser on campus to access them.