CS471 Operating Systems

Location: Exploratory Hall L003
Meeting Time: Tuesday, Thursday Noon to 1:15
Instructor: Dr. Robert Simon
Office: 5322 Engineering Building
Phone: 703-993-1556
E-mail: simon AT gmu dot edu
Office Hours: Tuesday 2:00 to 3:00, or by appointment
Teaching Assistant: Aditya Venkateshwaran, avenkat@masonlive.gmu.edu, office hours TBD
UG Teaching Assistant: Chris Gallarno, cgallarn@masonlive.gmu.edu


This course covers the principles of operating systems theory and practice. Fundamental concepts such as processes, synchronization, scheduling, memory management, file systems and security will be presented.


(Undergraduate level CS 310 Minimum Grade of C) and (Undergraduate level CS 367 Minimum Grade of C or Undergraduate level ECE 445 Minimum Grade of C). In order to succeed in the class you must be comfortable programming in C.


The main resource for this class is the lectures delivered by the instructor, supported by the course slides. There is no required textbook. As additional reading, the following textbooks are suggested:

Operating System Concepts by Silberschatz, Galvin and Gagne (9th or 10th Edition, John Wiley & Sons)
Operating Systems - Principles and Practice (2nd Edition, Recursive Books) by Anderson and Dahlin
Modern Operating Systems (4th Edition, Pearson) by A. S. Tanenbaum
Operating Systems: Three Easy Pieces (Online Book v1.00, Arpaci-Dusseau Books) by R. H. Arpaci-Dusseau and A. C. Arpaci-Dusseau



All class materials, including lecture notes and programming assignments, are available through your Blackboard accounts.


There will be several programming projects. The assignments will involve designing and implementing parts of an actual operating system called OS/161. You need to be comfortable with programming in C to complete these assignments. Details concerning OS/161 will be presented in class.

Please NOTE


Your grade will be calcuated as follows:

A final exam score of less than 50 results in an F for the course. If you think your work as not be correctly graded then you must initiate contact with the grader within a week of receiving the grade (either in the lecture during which it was first handed out or on the Blackboard). Grade contesting beyond this time window will not be allowed.


Class attendance is not absolutely required but is highly recommended.

No early exams will be given. If you must miss an exam an makeup will be arranged at the discretion of the instructor, provided you have a written and verified excuse.

During the lectures, please make sure you avoid behavior that distracts others, including chatting, sleeping, or routinely arriving to class late. The use of any electronic device during class (including laptops, tablets, cell phones, smartphones, etc.) is not allowed. This means that you cannot sit there and sneak peeks at your cell. Violation of any of these policies will automatically result in points deducted from your final grade.


  1. Demonstrate knowledge of operating systems features, evolution, and design
  2. Show an understanding of the need for concurrent operation of multiple tasks (processes/threads) and an ability to solve basic process synchronization problems that arise from concurrent operation settings
  3. Demonstrate knowledge of process scheduling, basic memory management, storage systems, and file system manageme
  4. Be able to implement basic algorithms for OS services such as memory management and process scheduling
  5. Demonstrate knowledge of security threats to an operating system from both processes and networked sources and show an understanding of protection techniques
  6. Demonstrate knowledge of how system calls work along with the mechanisms for interrupt handling


If you have a learning or physical difference that may affect your academic work, you will need to furnish appropriate documentation to GMU Disability Resource Center. If you qualify for accommodation, the DRC staff will give you a form detailing appropriate accommodations for your instructor. If you have such a condition, you must talk to the instructor during the first week of the term about the issue.

Disability Resource Center


The GMU Honor Code will be strictly enforced. Please make sure that you are familiar with it. We will discuss this further in class. Below is the link to the code.

Honor Code