Clarkson University

CS 241: Computer Organization

Course Syllabus -- Spring 2005

Course Website:
Lectures: MWF 1:00-1:50, Science Center 354

Professor: William Hesse
Office: Science Center 383
Phone: 268-2387

Office hours:
Monday 2:00-4:00
Wednesday 8:00-10:00, 4:00-6:00
Thursday 10:00-1:00
Or by appointment

Course Objectives:

  1. Students will learn how a high-level language program is implemented in machine code, and how to interpret and debug assembly language programs.
  2. Students will learn how a modern computer operates, at the level of the microprocessor and memory hierarchy.
  3. Students will learn how the low level implementation of programs affects their performance, and learn techniques for profiling and optimization.
  4. Students will learn about techniques used to maximize the performance of modern microprocessors, including pipelining, superscalar execution, out-of-order execution, and branch prediction.


(CSAPP) "Computer Systems: A Programmer's Perspective", by Bryant & O'Hallaron, published by Prentice Hall.
(K&R) "The C Programming Language, 2nd edition", by Kernighan & Ritchie, published by Prentice Hall.
(Kidder) "The Soul of a New Machine", by Tracy Kidder, published by Modern Library (Random House)

The grading in this class is a numerical score, based on all components of the course. Labs, assignments, and tests will be curved at the time they are graded, and there will be no curve applied to the final class averages. The components are weighted according to this table:

There is also a minimum requirement on the final. Students must have a (curved) score of 45 or greater on the final to pass the course.

The grades for all course components will be posted on Blackboard as soon as they are computed. All students are required to have a Blackboard account and to register for CS 241 on Blackboard. This is a separate process from registering of the course on Peoplesoft.

There will be two exams during the semester, and a cumulative final exam. You are responsible for all material in the lecture, as well as the reading assignments. Most important topics from the reading assignments will be reviewed in lecture.

With computers, everything that can go wrong will go wrong at the last minute. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary that you begin your assignments early. My suggestions are as follows: Start the assignment as soon as possible, so you will immediately realize if there is something you don't know. If you have problems finishing it on that day, you will have more time to fix any problems. Please follow my suggestions. If you don't, I can guarantee trouble. If you fall behind, it will be difficult to dig yourself out. Late work is subject to a penalty of 25% per week.

Author: William Hesse
Last Modified: Jan 7, 2005