Beginning of Course Memo

Course Description

The topics covered in this course will be : history of computing, performance assessment, system architectures, instruction sets, arithmetic algorithms and implementation, instruction sets, arithmetic algorithms and implementation, processor implementation, memory hierarchies, memory system design, memory system performance, peripheral storage technology, peripheral system organization and control, parallel computers, fault-tolerant computer design and reliability modelling.


InstructorJohn C. KnightOlsson
Teaching AssistantMiro KresonjaOlsson


The text for this class is "Computer Architecture and Organization" by John Hayes.


There will be two semester exams (October 8 and December 10) and a final exam (December 15, 2:00pm). The exams will be closed book and closed notes.


There will be periodic assignments in this course. Most will involve problems from the text and some will involve developing programs that implement various ideas from computer organization.

It is important to understand that assignments are to help you learn the material, not to assess your performance. This is the reason that assignments receive relatively little weight in your course grade. We all learn more by doing rather than listening and we learn more from our mistakes than our successes. You should strive to do the assignments carefully and completely, and to seek assistance with any aspect of an assignment with which you have difficulty. If an error is noted on the graded assignment, do your best to ensure that you understood the material.

Most programming assignments must be done in C or C++. The executable version of your program must run on a Department UNIX machine because grading will be based on the execution of a set of canned test cases. Do not use a proportional font for software listings. Please indent your source text and make the code readable. Please include your pledge on your assignments.

No assignments will be accepted after the due date unless you have a serious medical or personal problem. Late assignments in a large class like this make for too much chaos.

Please staple your assignment solutions in the upper left corner and use regular A4 paper (8.5" x 11").

Please print your name in ALL CAPITALS int the upper right hand side of the cover sheet of the work you hand in.

Please write legibly, in ink rather than pencil, and on one side of the paper only.


Your grade for this course will be determined as follows:

Semester Examination 120%
Semester Examination 220%
Final Examination35%

Office hours

InstructorTuesdays, 2:00pm - 4:00pm, and by appointment
Teaching AssistantWednesdays, 12:00pm - 1:00pm, and by appointment


I have no objection to your helping fellow students in this class with syntax errors and similar minor technical points about the use of the computers. It is important, also, to discuss techniques, algorithms, problems, ideas, etc. with your colleagues. I consider blatant attempts to steal programs or documents as honor violations.

Link to the original document in postscript: