Computer Science 330
Operating Systems

Fall 2020, Siena College



Dr. James D. Teresco, Roger Bacon 321, (518) 782-6992
Electronic mail: jteresco AT (best contact method)
Twitter: @JTerescoSienaCS
Class URL: [Link]
Class/Lab hours: Monday, Friday 11:00-1:00, Roger Bacon 340
Office hours: (subject to change) Tuesday 9:30-11:00, Wednesday 10:00-11:30 (virtual), Thursday 1:30-2:30, Friday 2:30-3:30, and by appointment


Everything on this syllabus is subject to change. Changes will be announced in class and updated in the online version of the syllabus.

Course Objectives

From the course catalog: "A study of processor, memory, device, and information management of contemporary computer systems. Emphasis is placed on the models and algorithms for multi-programming computer operating systems. Discussion will include classic problems such as the concurrency problems of mutual exclusion, deadlock and synchronization, and memory management concepts such as paging, working set and segmentation. The laboratory includes an introduction to the UNIX operating system, an introduction to programming in an appropriate system language, such as C, and experiments designed to confirm or extend the principles developed in lecture. Lab fee. (ATTR: ARTS)"

The course is about the design and implementation of operating systems. We will consider

We will use Unix-like operating systems as a model to help understand operating system concepts and consider other operating systems of historical or modern interest at times as well.

Course Goals

  1. Develop an understanding of computer operating system software.
  2. Develop further proficiency in the C programming language.
  3. Develop an understanding of concurrency, including the problems that can arise and solutions to manage those problems.
  4. Learn how to use the command-line interface of a Unix-like environment.
  5. Learn to use Unix system calls in C programs, including those for process (fork, semaphores) and thread (pthreads) management.
  6. Understand the overall design of modern operating systems for devices ranging from handheld computers to supercomputers.



The required text for the course is CSIS 330: Operating Systems (Zyante, Inc. (, 2020, ISBN 978-1-394-04034-6) by Bic. See your email for information about how to purchase your access.

You may also wish to purchase a C and/or Unix reference of your choice, though this is less essential than in the past with the vast online resources on these topics readily available. Other readings may also be assigned from freely available sources.


Our primary text is an interactive, online text from zyBooks. You will be responsible for reading the content and completing all of the participation activities and challenge activities. A chapter will be due each Friday before class (except exam weeks), and part of each Friday meeting will include a discussion, presentation of some additional material, and some exercises about that week's chapter.

The schedule for readings and assignments is included in the lecture and reading schedule.


Everyone is expected to attend class at the scheduled times, whether in-person or virtually, and participate in discussions, labs, and other in-class activities. Be prompt, prepared, and ready to focus on the day's topics. You will be responsible for all material in the readings and activities in our interactive text. Some topics will be covered in greater depth in class or lab assignments. There is no formal attendance policy, but a lack of regular attendance is certain to result in lower grades on assignments and exams. Do not expect sympathy if you are struggling but rarely have asked questions in class, by email, or during virtual or in-person office hours. Your questions are always seen as evidence that you care about your work and are engaged in the course. There will be in-class activities submitted for credit, and these can only be made up in the event of an excused absence.

The lecture and reading schedule lists the readings, and has a link to a web page for each lecture highlighting the day's topics, listing class examples, and upcoming due dates. Some notes will be available as PDF files linked from the lecture and reading schedule. You are responsible for everything covered in class, whether or not you are physically present.

Labs and Projects

Although our meetings are listed as a lab on Monday and a lecture on Friday, lab activities will take place in nearly every class meeting. Lab assignments will have a written and/or a programming component. The number of points available will vary with the complexity of the assignment. Programs will be graded on design, documentation, style, correctness, and efficiency. Answers to questions included in lab assignments are expected to be well-written.

Some lab assignments are "standalone" and are intended to give you experience with a particular concept, and should be able to be completed substantially during class time. Others will serve to get you started on one of the larger programming projects, and could require additional time. There will be 3 or 4 programming projects during the course of the semester for which you will develop larger programs.

You may develop programs for the lab and programming project assignments anywhere (in the lab, your own computers, etc.) but grading will be done using a specified grading platform unless otherwise specified. It is your responsibility to ensure that your program works on the grading platform. Unless otherwise specified, you are permitted (and are in fact, encouraged) to get help from your instructor. You may discuss the labs and projects with your classmates, but the work you submit must be your own (and that of your teammates, for work done in groups).

Your submissions for lab and project assignments will include several types of items, normally submitted as part of your repository for the assignment. Different requirements apply to each, as described below. It is important that you adhere to file format and naming requirements to facilitate grading. Submissions that do not meet these requirements will not be accepted.

Lab Questions
Responses to all "lab questions" should be included within the file for the repository, formatted using GitHub Markdown for readability.

Note: for lab questions that ask you to draw a memory diagram, you have a few options. You may attempt to represent the memory with plain text, but that is difficult to construct and read. Ideally, you would use a drawing program and submit a PDF file, but you are also permitted to draw the diagram on paper and submit a scan or photograph, as long as the diagram is legible in that form.

Output Captures
You will sometimes be asked to capture the output of an existing Unix command or one of your programs in a file for submission. The file name to use for each such task will be specified in the question.
Practice Programs
Your submissions for practice programs are graded primarily on correctness, but you will be required to include your name at the top of the program, and you must use the file name specified.
Programming Assignments
These are the most formal submissions and will be graded on design, documentation, style, correctness, and efficiency (where appropriate). A good design will use an appropriate algorithm, data structures, and language constructs to solve the problem. A well-documented program will include a comment at the top of each file that includes your name, the assignment, and a description of the contents of the file. There should also be comments for each structure definition, each function definition (including a brief description of the function's purpose, its parameters, and return value), each variable or group of related variables, and any section of code whose purpose and/or behavior is not obvious from context or the code itself. Style requirements include appropriate formatting (sufficient and consistent indentation, spacing, and punctuation, wrapping long lines of code), good use of constants, meaningful and appropriate names for variables, functions, constants, and parameters, and good use of version control (frequent commits with meaningful messages). Correctness, of course, requires the expected output be produced. Efficiency will be more important in some assignments than others, and requires that the program does not do any unnecessary computation or use any more memory than needed. This includes returning memory to the system when using dynamic memory management. And, of course, you must use the file name specified.

Unless otherwise specified, lab assignments and programming projects may be turned in with a penalty computed as 1.08h%, where h is the number of hours late. Extensions will only be granted in serious situations. You can find a C program that prints out a table of the late penalties here. Work turned in after solutions have been made available cannot receive credit.


There will be two exams during the semester. The first will be a midterm exam, tentatively scheduled for October 2. The second will serve as our final exam and will take place in early November, tentatively November 6.


Grades for individual assignments and exams are not scaled. Any scaling deemed appropriate will take place at the end of the semester by adjusting the thresholds. The following thresholds may be adjusted downward (thereby raising grades) but will never be adjusted upward.


zyBook Activities 10% A >= 93% A- >= 90%
Labs/Miscellaneous Assignments 10% B+ >= 87% B >= 83% B- >= 80%
Programming Projects 20% C+ >= 77% C >= 73% C- >= 70%
Final Project 15% D+ >= 67% D >= 65% D- >= 60%
Midterm Exam 20% F < 60%
Final Exam 25%


Please be sure you are familiar with the Siena College Student Class Attendance Policy.

Every college student should be motivated to attend every lecture and lab meeting for all the right reasons (e.g., desire for knowledge, desire to get the most out of every very expensive minute, etc.). As experienced college students, you understand that regular attendance is essential to your ability to master the course material.

Therefore, there is no formal attendance policy. You are expected to attend regularly, and should still see the instructor about any excused absences. An excused absence may be any of the following:

  1. A documented athletic or academic event that conflicts with a class meeting. The required paperwork must be presented in person at least one week prior to the event.
  2. A family emergency. These must be documented through the Office of Academic Affairs (518-783-2307), who will then contact your instructors.
  3. Personal illness. These must be documented by the Office of Student Affairs (518-783-2328), who will then contact your instructors.

While there is no formal penalty for unexecused absences, missing class regularly, frequent tardiness, or being distracted in class (e.g., checking your phone or Facebook) will be considered a sign that you are not taking the course seriously. Attendance is taken daily, with late arrivals and evidence of distraction or inattention noted as needed. Common sense suggests and experience validates that students who are frequently absent, late, or inattentive perform poorly on graded work. Do not expect compassion when final grades are assigned or extensive extra help if you do not understand a topic that was covered while you were absent without a valid excuse.

Pandemic-related Attendance Information

TL;DR: No one can predict how we will be able to balance in-person and remote instruction during the pandemic. Each of our personal situations, as well as restrictions imposed by College or government authorities, will determine that balance. Bottom line, if you're sick or quarantined, don't come to class, and if well enough, participate in the remote option.

The full College statement on this follows.

Siena College requires students to wear appropriate face coverings (e.g., masks, fully covering both mouth and nose) in all college buildings, including classrooms, laboratories and studios. If students arrive to a class, lab, studio, or office hours without a face covering, they will be denied entry, and must leave and obtain a face covering before they can return. Likewise, students are required to wear face coverings when in hallways within buildings and to be prepared to put one on if they come within six feet of another person when traversing campus. Students who refuse forfeit the right to attend class until a mask is worn and are subject to disciplinary action for violating the campus code of conduct (see policy). All college employees have the right to refuse services to students if they do not comply with these requirements.

Students are requested to use available cleaning products to wipe down their desks or work areas when they arrive in class. Classrooms will be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized at least once daily as well.

Students with any symptoms of illness, especially those associated with COVID-19 must not attend class under any circumstances. As with any absence, they should contact instructors to discuss missed lectures and assignments. If the instructor is quarantined due to COVID-19 exposure, the class will be offered remotely until the Instructor is able to return to campus. Additionally, Instructors may move the class to remote instruction if they feel in-person meetings are not safe.

Disability Accommodations

In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, Siena College is committed to ensuring educational access and accommodations for all its registered students.

Any student with a documented disability needing academic adjustments or accommodations should provide documentation of such during the first two weeks of class. All discussions will remain confidential. Accommodations must be arranged with Ms. Julia Gold, Director of Accessibility (Foy 109, 518-783-4239).

Complaints about services provided or not provided may be brought to the attention of Public Safety at 518-783-2376 or Ms. Lois Goland, JD, Title IX Coordinator and Equal Opportunity Specialist (SSU 235, 518-782-6673).

Academic Integrity

You are encouraged to discuss the concepts related to course assignments and exams with your classmates. This is an essential part of a healthy academic environment. However, work submitted for grading must be your own (or the combined work of group members, for group assignments). Any unauthorized copying or collaboration is considered a breach of academic integrity and will not be tolerated. Academic dishonesty cases are unpleasant and uncomfortable for everyone involved. You are responsible for reading and understanding the College's Academic Integrity Policy and the Computer Science Department's Academic Integrity statement. The minimum penalties for a first violation will include failure (0 grade) for the assignment or exam in question and the filing of a Academic Integrity Violation Accusation Form. A second violation will result in failure of the course and a formal letter describing your misconduct will be sent to the head of the Computer Science Department and the Office of Academic Affairs. Students suspected of violating academic integrity will be referred to the Academic Integrity Committee for final determination.

If there is any doubt about the degree of collaboration allowed or the permitted sources for a particular assignment, please ask for clarification before collaborating or consulting the source. Any such collaborations or sources must be cited properly.