CS 262
Introduction to Low-level Programming
Fall 2009

Dr. David Nordstrom
email: dnordstr_AT_gmu_DOT_edu
office: 5345 Engineering
office hours: Tuesday 7:30 pm - 8:30 pm, Thursday 10:30 am - 11:30 am, Friday noon - 1:00 pm and by appointment.
phone: (703) 993-1565
The course website is http://cs.gmu.edu/~dnord/cs262


The text is Brian Kernighan and Dennis Ritchie, The C Programming Language, 2nd ed., Prentice Hall, 1988.

The course

Most high-level programming languages (and particularly Java) insulate the programmer from the realities of the hardware on which the programs will run. C is the exception since it was originally designed to implement the Unix operating system. C offers the programmer direct access to much of the underlying hardware and, for programs running under Unix, direct access to operating system services. For these reasons C remains the language of choice for systems programming.

This is a (short) course on "low-level" programming using C. We will learn C with heavy emphasis on pointer operations.


Planned topics include:

Course outcomes

The students will:


There will be several programming assignments. Programming assignments will be posted on the course website

You may discuss the programming projects with other students (this is encouraged) but you must do and submit your own work. No joint work will be accepted. Read the CS Department honor code: http://cs.gmu.edu/wiki/pmwiki.php/HonorCode/CSHonorCodePolicies, and the University honor code: http://honorcode.gmu.edu . You are bound by these honor codes. Any submitted work which shows too much commonality with others' work to be completely original, or any plagiarized work, will receive a grade of 0. Any code which is presented in class or provided to you as part of the project may be included in your programs.

You can only turn in a program once. No revisions or additions can be made to your program after it has been submitted. Late programs will be accepted with a 10 points per day late penalty. You are responsible for keeping backups of your work ("my disk crashed" and "my roommate ate my program" are not reasons for late submissions).


There will be a midterm exam and a final. There will be no makeups on exams except under exceptional circumstances (as judged by me), and any such makeup must be arranged in advanced. Grades will computed from a weighted average computed with the following weights: