CS465 - 001: Computer Systems Architecture (Fall
1 Course Basics
Meeting Time and Location:
- Monday/Wednesday 12noon-1:15pm, EXPL L003
Instructor: Dr. Yutao Zhong
- Email: yzhong (at) gmu (dot) edu
- Office: Engineering Building 4433
- Be able to explain the organization of the classical von
Neumann machine and its major functional components
- Be able to compare performance of simple system configurations
and understand the performance implications of architectural
- Be able to show how instructions are represented at both the
machine level and in the context of a symbolic assembler; be
able to understand small MIPS programs and write MIPS assembly
- Be able to use different formats to represent numerical data
and convert numerical data from one format to another
- Be able to explain how an instruction is executed and the
concept of datapaths and control
- Be able to explain basic instruction level parallelism using
pipelining and the major hazards that may occur
- Be able to explain the effect of memory latency on running
time; be able to describe the use of memory hierarchy to reduce
the effective memory latency, in particular, the role of cache
and virtual memory; be able to understand the principles of
C or better in CS 367.
- Required - Computer Organization and Design: the
Hardware/Software Interface, 5th edition, John L. Hennessy and
David A. Patterson, Morgan Kaufmann, 2014. Companion
Other Useful Resources:
Course schedule, announcements, lecture slides, assignments,
discussion, contacts, and office hours. Follow the link to sign
Grades release and assignments submission.
Grade cutoff percentages:
- A+ (>= 98.0%) A (>= 92.0%) A– (>= 90.0%)
- B+ (>= 87.0%) B (>= 81.0%) B– (>= 79.0%)
- C+ (>= 76.0%) C (>= 70.0%) C– (>= 68.0%)
- D (>= 60.0%)
- F (< 60.0%)
- Homework assignments might require some programming.
- Homework assignments must be done on an individual basis
unless stated otherwise.
- Late Work: up to 48 hours late
work accepted. Each day late drops the highest possible
score by 25%.
- Catastrophic computer failure will not be cause for an
extension. Use a backup service such as DropBox (or any cloud
service), emailing yourself, storing to a USB drive, whatever it
- Contested Grades: Contesting of grades on any/all
submissions must be requested within one week of receiving the
grade (on BlackBoard). No grade changes will be considered
subsequent to that deadline.
- Exams are closed book/notes unless specified otherwise by
- They will be entirely paper and pencil - no computers.
- All students must have their GMU identification available on
- Early or Late/Makeup Exams require exceptional circumstances
(as judged by the professor) and must be arranged in advance.
Vacation plans are not exceptional circumstances.
- If you miss an exam due to a university-accepted excused
absence (such as an illness or car accident the day and time of
the exam), you must notify your professor within 24 hours of
your absence to make arrangements for a makeup, and bring
approved documentation with you when you take the make-up exam.
Failure to follow either of these policies will result in a
zero. We may also elect to allow the final exam to count the
extra amount to give you a sort of do-over.
- The final will not be given early. You are starting the course
with knowledge of the schedule (see GMU's Final Exam Calendar
for the latest schedule, updated as weather events require).
- Attendance is not compulsory but highly recommended for doing
well in the class.
- In-class exercises/quizzes require classroom attendance.
- Students are encouraged to use the discussion board, Piazza,
to ask and answer questions.
- No sharing answers to homework assignments on the discussion
- Under no circumstances should code be posted publicly to the
discussion board. Students can post questions and code
privately, although the instructor reserves the right to make
any post public, so that other students can see the responses.
- There will be no make-up or extra-credit assignments at the
end of the semester; your grade should be a measure of your
- IN (Incomplete) policy as indicated in the catalog will be
strictly adhered to. You must provide the necessary back-up
documentation (e.g. medical certificate) for your application to
be considered favorably. In all circumstances, the written
request, with all the back up documentation, must be received
before the final exam week.
3 Honor Code
All students are expected to abide by the GMU Honor Code.
This policy is rigorously enforced. The computer science
department has an CS Honor Code
Policies that you are subject to particularly for our course.
Cheating on any assignment will be prosecuted and result in a
notification of the Honor Committee as outlined in the GMU Honor
Code. Sharing, collaboration, or looking at
any code, algorithm, or solutions of assignments that is not
your own (or outside the group for group assignments), including
resources from Internet, is considered cheating.
We take the honor code quite seriously. Any attempts at copying
or sharing code, algorithms, or other violations of the honor code
simply will not be tolerated. We use automated software to flag
suspicious cases, and then review them to find the cases that must
be submitted to the Office of Academic Integrity. The penalty for
cheating will always be far worse than a zero grade, to ensure
it's not worth taking the chance. Confirmed cases of cheating
almost always translate into course failure.
4 Learning Disabilities
Students with a learning disability or other condition
(documented with GMU's Office of
Disability Services) that may impact academic performance
should speak with the professor ASAP to discuss appropriate