CS 571: Operating Systems – Spring 2020

Innovation Hall 208
Meeting time
M 7:20 pm - 10:00 pm
Dr. Yue Cheng
5324 Engineering Building
yuecheng _AT_ gmu.edu
Office hours
M 3 pm - 4 pm


This is a graduate-level course that covers the concepts and design principles of modern operating systems, both from theory and practical aspects. Fundamental concepts such as processes, synchronization, scheduling and memory management will be presented.

Course website

The materials will be published on our course website: https://tddg.github.io/cs571-spring20/.


Grade of C or better in CS310 and CS 367 and CS 465. All students *MUST* be comfortable with programming in the C language. This is a strong requirement.

Teaching assistant (TA)

Office hours


The only required textbook for this class is OSTEP, which is an excellent resource for learning OS. The material of this class is based on OSTEP, which is publicly available at:

Recommended textbooks but not required:

  • Operating Systems Principles and Practice, by Thomas Anderson and Michael Dahlin, Second Edition. ISBN: 978-0-9856735-2-9, Recursive Books, Ltd.
  • Operating System Concepts, by Silberschatz, Galvin and Gagne (9th Edition, John Wiley & Sons 2012, ISBN 978-1-118-06333-0).

Course outcomes

Upon completion of this course, the students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge about the role and purpose of the operating systems
  • Demonstrate knowledge about different design philosophies of operating systems (LDE, interrupts, cooperative scheduling, non-cooperative scheduling) and the involved trade-offs.
  • 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.
  • Be able to explain the main performance evaluation criteria for computer systems and how the operating system design can have an impact on these.
  • Demonstrate the knowledge about process scheduling, basic memory management, storage systems (HDDs, RAID, flash), file system management techniques, and their impact on the overall performance.
  • Demonstrate the basic knowledge about big data systems infrastructure including Google File Systems and MapReduce.
  • Be able to implement a suite of basic algorithms proposed for the main OS services such as system calls and process scheduling.


  • Introduction
  • Concurrency
  • Synchronization
  • CPU scheduling
  • Memory Management and virtual memory
  • I/O, and storage systems
  • File systems
  • Distributed systems (at Google)


There will be several programming projects You need to be comfortable with programming in C (and Python) to complete these assignments. Details concerning the projects will be presented in class. All students should have accounts on the VSE Unix cluster (aka zeus.vse.gmu.edu). Instructions and related links can be found here. Your programs will be tested and graded on the zeus server.

Grading policy

Your grade will be calcuated as follows:

  • 35% projects
  • 15% homeworks
  • 20% midterm exam
  • 30% final exam

The final grade is computed according to the following rules:

  • A+: >= 95%; A: [90%, 95%); A-: [85%, 90%)
  • B+: [80%, 85%); B: [75%, 80%); B-: [70%, 75%)
  • C+: [66%, 70%); C: [63%, 66%); C-: [60%, 63%)
  • D+: [56%, 60%); D:[53%, 56%); D-: [50%, 53%)
  • F: < 50%

Academic integrity

All students must adhere to the GMU Honor Code and the Computer Science Department's Honor Code Policies. The students are supposed to work individually on the homeworks, assignments projects, unless told otherwise. We reserve the right to use MOSS to detect plagiarism. Violation of the Honor Code will result in an F.

Accommodations for disabilities

If you have a documented learning disability or other condition that may affect academic performance, you should:

  1. make sure this documentation is on file with Office for Disability Services (SUB I, Rm. 4205; 993-2474; http://ods.gmu.edu) to determine the accommodations you need;
  2. talk with the instructor within the first week of the semester to discuss any accommodation needs.