CSE 120: Principles of Computer Operating Systems

Spring 2018

Geoffrey M. Voelker (voelker@cs.ucsd.edu)
CSE 3108
Tu/Th 8–9:20am
Warren 2005
TAs and Tutors
Ruohan Hu (r8hu@ucsd.edu)
Kyle Leung (kwleung@ucsd.edu)
Erin McGinnis (emmcginn@ucsd.edu)
Sean Powers (s1powers@ucsd.edu)
Ashrith Sheshan (asheshan@ucsd.edu)
Edward Wong (e4wong@ucsd.edu)
Discussion Sections
Wed 8–8:50am in Warren 2005
Office and Lab Hours
Voelker (All Topics): Mon 3–4pm, Wed 4–5pm (CSE 3108)
CSE basement
Remzi H. Arpaci-Dusseau and Andrea C. Arpaci-Dusseau
Operating Systems: Three Easy Pieces
Version 0.91   (Available free online!)
Discussion Board

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 Schedule

The following table outlines the schedule for the course. We will update it as the quarter progresses.

Date Lecture Readings Homework Project
4/3 Course Intro Chap 1, Chap 2    
4/5 OS Architectural Support Chap 6 Homework 1: Out   Project 0: Out  
4/9 (Monday)     Project 0: Due  
4/10 Processes Chap 4, Chap 5   Project 1: Out  
4/12 Threads Chap 26, Chap 27    
4/17 Synchronization Chap 28, Chap 29 Homework 1: Due
Homework 2: Out  
4/19 Semaphores and Monitors Chap 30, Chap 31    
4/24 Semaphores and Monitors Chap 30, Chap 31    
4/26 Scheduling and Deadlock Chap 7, Chap 8, Chap 32    
4/27 (Friday)     Project 1: Due
4/28 (Saturday)   Homework 2: Due    
5/1 Midterm Exam Midterm Review    
5/2 (Wednesday)     Project 2: Out
5/3 Memory Management Chap 15, Chap 16, Chap 18    
5/16 (Friday)   Homework 3: Out  
5/8 Paging Chap 19, Chap 20    
5/10 Paging (cont'd) Chap 19, Chap 20    
5/15 Page Replacement Chap 21, Chap 22, Chap 23    
5/17 File Systems Chap 37, Chap 39, Chap 40    
5/19 (Saturday)     Project 2: Due
5/21 (Monday)   Homework 3: Due  
5/22 File System Implementation Chap 37, Chap 39, Chap 40   Project 3: Out  
5/24 Protection   Homework 4: Out  
5/29 Multicore Chap 10    
5/31 Virtual Machine Monitors Appendix B    
6/5 Research Talk      
6/6 (Wednesday)   Homework 4: Due  
6/7 Summary & Final Review      
6/8 (Friday)     Project 3: Due
6/14 Final Exam      

Course Organization

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


The course will have four homeworks. I will post them as the quarter progresses. Due to extensive copying on homeworks in the past, I have changed how homeworks are graded. As long as you submit a technical answer related to the question, you will get full credit for the question. The goal of the homeworks is to give you practice learning the material. The homework questions both supplement and complement the material from lecture and in the project, and you will also find the homework questions to be useful for practicing for the exams. We will post solutions to all homeworks after they are submitted, and you can use them for studying as well. But, even with the solutions, the amount you learn from the homeworks will be directly correlated with your effort working on them.


The course has one tutorial project and three programming projects using the Nachos instructional operating system.


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.

Discussion Sections

Discussion sections answer questions about the lectures, homeworks, projects, and programming environment. They may also supplement the lectures with additional material.


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:

The academic honesty guidelines outlined by Charles Elkan apply to this course. I urge you to resist any temptation to cheat, no matter how desperate the situation may seem. If you are in circumstances that you feel compel you to cheat, come to me first before you do so.

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.