Meeting Times and Location:
Spring 2021, MW 8:40-9:55AM 501 Northwest Corner Building
COMS W3137 Data Structures and Algorithms,
COMS W3157 Advanced Programming (or good working knowledge of C), and
COMS W3827 Fundamentals of Computer Systems
Design and implementation of operating systems. Topics include
process synchronization and interprocess communication, processor
scheduling, memory management, virtual memory, interrupt handling,
device management, I/O, and file systems. Hands-on study of Linux
operating system design and kernel internals, including work with
Android devices. Experience with
commercial virtualization tools and open source software. The course
was the first to introduce virtualization as a tool for teaching
computer science, specifically operating systems. For more
Dr. Dobb's Journal.
The Spring 2021 enrollment for this class will be limited.
Please register early if you plan to take this class in Spring 2021. If the
class is full and you would like to take the class, please sign up for
the class waitlist.
All office hours are on Zoom; see Course Info section
for Zoom meeting IDs and passwords.
To email the instructional staff, please use the w4118 staff mailing
Prof. Jason Nieh,
212-939-7160, office hours: W10:00AM-12:00PM
Kent Hall, office hours: R4:00-6:00PM
Jordan Phillips, office hours: M2:00-4:00PM
Xuheng Li, office hours: T3:00-5:00PM
Sarah Seidman, office hours: S10:00AM-12:00PM
Maÿlis Whetsel, office hours: W6:00-8:00PM
Alex Yao, office hours: F5:00-7:00PM
- Required Text:
System Concepts Essentials (2nd Edition),
Peter Galvin, and Greg Gagne, John Wiley and Sons, New York, NY,
2013 (available from
- Required Linux Reference:
Linux Kernel Development
(3rd Edition), Robert Love, Addison-Wesley
Professional, New York, NY, 2010 (available from
Amazon.com). Also available online.
- Optional Text:
Systems: Principles and Practice (2nd Edition),
Thomas Anderson and Michael Dahlin, Recursive Books, West Lake Hills, TX,
2014 (available from
- Optional Linux Reference:
Understanding the Linux Kernel (3rd Edition),
Daniel P. Bovet, Marco Cesati,
O'Reilly & Associates, Sebastopol, CA, 2005 (available from
See also Errata.
See also Google Book Search.
- Computing Requirements:
You should also have your own computer to take this class, on which
Workstation for Windows or Linux,
or VMware Fusion
A CS account
will provide access
licenses and software at no additional cost. If you do not yet
have a CS account, you
one and list the instructor as the sponsor.
There will be six homework assignments. Your lowest homework
grade will be dropped in calculating your grade. Each assignment will
both non-programming and programming problems. The programming
problems will involve kernel-level programming in the Linux operating
The midterm is one class period, open book, open notes.
The midterm will cover all material discussed in the course through
The final exam is scheduled at the normal final exam time for this
class period. The final is closed book, calculator permitted. The
is cumulative and will cover all material discussed in the course.
No "extra credit" work
All work is due by the date and time specified in the respective
there are no extensions. It is much better to submit partially
complete homework on time and get partial credit for your work than to
submit late homework for no credit. Homeworks submitted after the
respective deadlines when they are due are considered late. Late
homeworks will not be accepted unless there is a valid medical or
family condition with appropriate documentation submitted to the
Submissions should be made electronically using
Git, a distributed version control
You should use Git for version control of all your code for this
class, and we will monitor code check ins to see how your work is
progressing and who is doing the work. Each submission will be time
stamped. Proper submission is your responsibility; we strongly urge
you to make sure you understand the submission process and submit
early. We also urge you to check out your submissions and test them
to make sure the submissions are complete. You can always submit
again up until the deadline, so we strongly urge you to submit well
before the deadline and then submit again if you have a more updated
assignment to submit later.
If you disagree with any homework grade, submit your grievance via
email to the w4118 staff mailing list, documenting the merits of your
The grader responsible will respond likewise via email. If you are
dissatisfied you may appeal in like manner to the instructor, who will
only examine the email record of the dispute, and will respond in
If you disagree with any exam grade, submit your exam and grievance in
writing (not email) to the grader responsible, documenting the merits
of your case. The grader will respond likewise in writing. If you
are still dissatisfied you may appeal in like manner to the
instructor, who will only examine the written record of the dispute,
and will respond in email.
For a grade dispute to be
considered, the written grievance must be submitted in writing within
two weeks of when the respective assignment or exam is returned.
For your convenience, all programming can be developed on any
Linux machine. However, only those programs which compile using the
gcc compiler in the VM you are given to work with will be graded.
Furthermore, it is critically important that all submitted program
listings and executions be thoroughly documented.
All programs must compile and all kernels you modify must also boot;
programs and kernels that do not compile and boot will receive a grade
of zero. Usually the homework assignments will only state the
major objectives of the program to be written; it will be often up to
you to make design decisions about things like I/O, efficiency, error
handling, and so on. Make sure you provide adequate test cases to
indicate the correctness and robustness of your approaches.
COLLABORATION / COPYING POLICY
We encourage you to help one another in understanding the concepts and
principles needed to do the homework assignments for this class.
However, what you turn in must be your own, or for group projects,
your group's own work. Copying any part of other people's code,
solution sets, or from any other sources is strictly prohibited.
Students in previous years have often been caught cheating by copying
answers from the web, which turn out to be incorrect. The homework
assignments must be the work of the students turning them in. Anyone
found violating the class collaboration policy will be punished
You must explicitly cite ALL sources of information that you
reference as part of your homework submissions. For each citation,
you should describe how that source was referenced. You do not need
to cite conversations with instructional staff or the course
textbooks, but you should cite everything else, including any
conversations with other students related to the homework
assignments, and any websites used. Referencing any uncited sources
other than the course materials is considered cheating.
All students or groups who are determined to submit homework that
violates the class collaboration policy will receive a zero on the
respective homework assignment for the first offense, and will receive
an F for the course for the second offense. More serious cases of
cheating, such as copying someone's work without their knowledge or
cheating on exams, will result in the person cheating receiving an F
for the course.
In addition, offenses will be reported to the Dean's office, which may
result in further disciplinary action, including suspension or
expulsion from the program. Penalties will be given without
discussion or warning; the first notice you receive may be a letter
from the Dean. Note that you are responsible for not leaving copies
of your assignments lying around and for protecting your files
OPEN DOOR POLICY
We would like the course to run smoothly and enjoyably. Feel free to
let us know what you find just, good, and interesting about the
course. Let us know sooner about the reverse. See us, leave us a
note, or send us email.