INFS 515 - Computer Organization [Credits: 3], Fall 2013

General Description: This survey course covers the principles of computer organization/architecture, and operating systems. It is one of the three foundation courses required for the MS in IT and some other graduate programs:

Foundation Courses

INFS 501 Discrete and Logical Structures for Information Systems (3:3:0). Prerequisites: Six credits of undergraduate mathematics. Study of discrete and logical structures for information systems analysis and design including basic set theory and proof techniques, propositional and predicate logic, trees and graphs, finite state machines, formal languages and their relation to automata, computability and computational complexity, formal semantics-operational, axiomatic and denotational approaches. Credit cannot be applied to any graduate degree in IT&E or the BS degree in Computer Science.
INFS 515 Computer Organization (3:3:0). Prerequisites: Undergraduate courses or equivalent knowledge in structured programming in a high-level language. Computer hardware organization: arithmetic and logical operations; combinational and sequential logic; machine representation of numbers, characters, and instructions; addressing techniques; microprogramming; reduced instruction set computers. Symbolic assembly language and interrupts and input/output organization, are also covered. Credit cannot be applied to any graduate degree in IT&E or the BS degree in Computer Science.
INFS 519 Program Design and Data Structures (3:3:0). Prerequisite: SWE 510 or equivalent. Study of the fundamentals of data structures and algorithms applied in programming solutions to application problems. The course stresses programming in a modern high-level language. Laboratory required. Credit cannot be applied to any graduate degree in School of Information Technology and Engineering.
Prerequisites: This course assumes you have some experience and knowledge of programming in C or Java.  Self-study resources will be provided to refresh your programming skills.  The programs required for this course will not be lengthy or complex, but you will need to know how to read and understand program examples, how to edit and modify program source code, and how to compile and run programs and capture their output for submission in homeworks.

The course includes but is not limited to the following topics:
Required Textbook:

The Architecture of Computer Hardware and System Software: An Information Technology Approach, 4th Edition, by Irv Englander

(NOTE: this is a new text for this semester, replacing the earlier text by Ramachandran & Leahy)

Course dates: Monday Aug 26 through Monday Dec 16
Location: Art and Design Building L008
Meeting day & time: Mondays, 7:20pm to 10:00pm. Please arrive at class on time. We will start on time, have a short break in the middle of each class session, and will finish not later than 10:00pm.

Blackboard: All assignments, class announcements, schedules, files and presentations will use Blackboard

Instructor Information: Harry J. Foxwell, Ph.D. (GMU 2003),

Professor's Email:
In the Subject line of your email, use the prefix INFS515
For example:  Subject: INFS515: Question about Homework #1

CS Office location: Engineering Building, Room 4300 (see administrator)

Office hours:  Call or email for appointments.

Phone:  703-364-1047 (Okay to call at any time and leave message on voicemail)

Teaching Assistant (TA):  Jitin Krishnan,
Grading Policy

Student grades will be determined based on class participation, homework assignments, research paper review, research paper, and final exam:
Grade Component
Class Participation (in class, online discussions)
Homeworks (programs, problems)
Research Paper Reviews
Final Exam

Grading Guidelines: Some assignment components are evaluated subjectively

A: consistently above and beyond the course/assignment requirements
B: meets and occasionally exceeds the course/assignment requirements
C: minimally meets the course/assignment requirements
F: fails to meet the course/assignment requirements
Some assignment components are evaluated objectively:

A  : 95-100%
A- : 90-95%
B+ : 85-90%
B  : 80-85%
C  : 70-80%

Honor Code

All work performed in this course will be subject to GMU's Honor Code. Students are expected to do their own work in the course unless a group project is approved by the instructor. In papers and project reports, students are expected to write in their own words, rather than cutting-and-pasting from sources found on the Internet. When you do use material from books, articles, and the Web, enclose the material in quotes and provide a reference. If a paragraph is used then it should be indented in the text (both left and right margins).


    PDF preferred; plain text, HTML, StarOffice/OpenOffice, Open Document Format, MS format documents also accepted, but the instructor will have to convert's best to do the PDF conversion yourself and check the result before submitting.  Upload all assignments to Blackboard. 

Use Chicago Manual of Style for guidance on citation style, usage, etc.  (Don't buy the big CMS.  See the smaller A Manual for Writers by Kate Turabian).

Programming Assignments:

When an assignment says "Write a program in C or Java that (whatever)", you must provide
Student programming projects must adhere to the CS Honor Code.

There a several Computer Labs available for general use by IT&E students, which are located on the Fairfax campus.  For more information go to the web site at .

Course OS programming environment for lectures & assignments can be on any Linux distribution: RHEL, Fedora, CentOS, or Ubuntu.  You can install these in a variety of ways: directly, multi-boot, or as guest VMs using VirtualBox or other virtualization environments.  The Virtual Computing Lab can also be used.

Class Participation:  Contribute to the in-class discussions, participate in online discussion topics posted on Blackboard.  Some online discussion topics might be selected for grading.

Other Notes: