Computer Science 330
Operating Systems

Spring 2012, Siena College



Dr. James D. Teresco, Roger Bacon 314, (518) 783-4171
Electronic mail: jteresco AT (best contact method)
Class URL: [Link]
Class hour: Tuesday, Thursday 10:00-11:20, Roger Bacon 302
Lab meetings: Friday 9:20-12:20, Roger Bacon 306
Office hours: TBA


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 using the UNIX operating system, an introduction to programming in the C language and experiments designed to confirm or extend the principles developed in lecture."

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 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 and window-based interfaces 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.

Missions and Learning Goals

Please be sure you are familiar with the following statements of mission and learning goals by visiting these links:



The required text for the course is Operating Systems Concepts Essentials (John Wiley & Sons, 2011, ISBN 978-0-470-88920-6) by Silberschatz, Galvin, and Gagne. This is available from the Siena bookstore and elsewhere. Be sure to get the correct edition, as there are a number of variations on this text.

The recommended text for the course is The C Programming Language, 2nd edition (Prentice Hall, 1988, ISBN 0-13-110362-8) by Kernighan and Ritchie.

You may also find it useful to purchase a Unix reference of your choice. Unix references will be available for your use in the lab.


Everyone is expected to attend class and participate in discussions. Supplemental readings are listed on the lecture and reading schedule. Of course you are encouraged to do the reading, but all important topics will be covered in class.

The notes I use to guide my in-class presentations are available as PDF files linked from the lecture and reading schedule.

Be prompt, prepared, and ready to focus on the day's topics. This should go without saying, but this means your phones and other devices not being used exclusively to follow along with class materials and/or to take notes must be powered off. You may bring food or drink to class, as long as you are not a distraction to your classmates or instructor.

Most lectures will include a small assignment due at the start of the next class. No late submissions of these "lecture assignments" will be accepted, as they will often be discussed in class on the due date. Some of these assignments will be graded for correctness, while others will be graded based on whether an honest effort was made.


Labs are held on Friday mornings in Roger Bacon 306. There will not be formal lab meetings every week, but attendance is required for the formal meetings.

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 be completed during the lab meeting or with an hour or two of effort beyond the lab. Others will serve to get you started on one of the larger programming projects. 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 the Siena School of Science Linux lab systems unless otherwise specified. It is your responsibility to ensure that your program works on the grading platform.

Unless otherwise specified, lab assignments 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 and must be arranged through the Dean's office. 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.

All assignments and projects are to be submitted electronically using the procedure specified on each lab handout. Please submit writtren work in portable formats (plain text where appropriate, PDF or postscript when needed). If in doubt about a file format, please check before submitting. Keep a copy of all submissions for yourself.


There will be a take-home exam during the semester, tentatively scheduled for early March, plus one during finals period.

Final Project

For the last part of the semester, the workload of the regular lab assignments will be reduced and you will focus your efforts on a large project on a relevant topic of your own choosing. The project will include a proposal, a progress report, a paper and a presentation. Most projects will also involve significant software development. Details will be made available around mid-semester, but you should expect a series of intermediate due dates during the last few weeks of the semester and a minisymposium during our final lab meeting where you will present your projects to your classmates. Your final project submission (paper and software) will be due on the last day of classes.


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 above thresholds. The following thresholds may be adjusted downward (thereby raising grades) but will never be adjusted upward.


Lecture Assignments 10% A >= 93% A- >= 90%
Labs 15% B+ >= 87% B >= 83% B- >= 80%
Programming Projects 25% C+ >= 77% C >= 73% C- >= 70%
Midterm Exam 15% D+ >= 68% D >= 65%
Final Exam 15% E < 65%
Final Project 20%


Please be sure you are familiar with the Siena College 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 (783-2307), who will then contact your instructors.
  3. Personal illness. These must be documented by the Office of Student Affairs (783-2328), who will then contact your instructors.

While there is no formal penalty for unexecused absences, missing class regularly will be considered a sign that you are not taking the course seriously. History shows that students who are frequently absent 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.

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 Catalog Statement on Academic Integrity 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.

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.

Additional College Policies

Please be sure you are familiar with the following College policies by visiting these links: