CS 465: Computer Systems and Architecture (Syllabus)

Class Information
Class/Sec: CS 465: Computer Systems Architecture (Sec 002)
Instructor: Huzefa Rangwala Room #4423 Engineering Building, rangwala@cs.gmu.edu
Class Time & Location: Tue/Thu 1:30 - 2:45 pm Music/Theater Building 1005
Text Book: Computer Organization and Design by Patterson and Henessey, MIPS 5th Edition Buy Book
Teaching Assistant: TBD TBD
Office Hours: Instructor: Tuesday 11am-12N in Engineering 4423.
Communication and Class Link: Piazza Link: Piazza

Please note the syllabus is subject to change to enrich the student's learning experience :). Feel free to email rangwala@cs.gmu.edu for questions, concerns, or even say hi.

About the Course
Course Description
This course provides an introduction to the fundamental concepts in computer architecture. Topics include: Basic system components, Performance measurements, Instructions and their representation, Number representation, Implementation of Arithmetic operations, Processor organization, Pipelining, The memory hierarchy and concurrent programming
Course Prerequisites
(Computer Systems Programming (CS 367)) / Digital Electronics (ECE 301)) OR ECE 303. Students not satisfying the prerequisites will be dropped from the class.
Course Format
Lectures will be given by the instructor. Besides material from the textbook, topics not discussed in the book may also be covered. Grading will be based on homework assignments and exams. Homework assignments will require some programming. Exams and homework assignments must be done on an individual basis unless stated. Any deviation from this policy will be considered a violation of the GMU Honor Code.
Course Outcomes
As an outcome of taking this class, a student will be able to
  • 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 choices
  • 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 program segments
  • 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 memory management
  • Be able to explain the basic issues related to concurrent programming
Assignments/Exams Grading
HW0 0%
HW1 10%
HW2 10%
HW3 10%
HW4 10%
Mid-Term Exam 25%
Final Exam 30%
Surprise Quizzes 5%
Grade Distribution
Grade Score Range
A >96
A- 92-96
B+ 88-92
B 84-88
B- 80-84
C+ 76-80
C 72-76
C- 68-72
F < 68
The best form of communication to the TA and instructor is via Piazza/or via email. Please ensure you put "[CS 465]" in the subject header for a timely and quick response.
Attendance is not compulsory but highly recommended for doing well in the class. This class has lots of active learning exercises, and they will be a lot of fun.
Assignment Submission
Please ensure that the assignments are submitted on-time, before class begins (hard-copy and soft-copy). No late submissions. Exam and HW solutions cannot be made available online to prevent future classes from plagiarism. Copies will be made available only on the day the graded assignments are returned.
Make-Up Exams & Incompletes
Make up exams and incompletes will not be given for this class.
Academic Honesty and GMU Honor Code
Please visit the GMU Honor Code and do not copy assignment solutions from your peers, internet or any source unless stated in the assignment description.
Disability Statement
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 the Office of Disability Services (SUB I, Rm. 222; 993-2474; www.gmu.edu/student/drc to determine the accommodations you need; and 2) talk with me to discuss your accommodation needs.