The crosscutting theme in this course is providing abstractions above imperfect hardware to make it usable by programmers and users. At the end of the course, students should understand a set of abstractions (concurrent programming, virtual addressing, memory protection, caching, transactions, ...) that are useful in many large-scale software systems not just OS kernels. More important than memorizing specific abstractions used in operating systems of the past, students should understand these abstractions well enough to synthesize their own abstractions when faced with new problems.
|Instructor:||Mike Dahlin 471-9549|
|Office Hr:||T 2:30 - 3:30 PM, ACES 6.248 or by appointment|
|Class Info:||55735 TTH 3:30 - 5:00 PM, RLM 7.118
|TA:||Han Song; shan [at] cs [dot] utexas [dot] edu
Office hours: Tu/Th 10:30-11:30, ENS 31NQ Desk #5
This handout and all other information for the course will be available at this address.
That said, grades will be determined as follows:
I grade on a curve rather than an absolute scale because it protects students from stressing out if I happen to give an overly hard midterm or final. The downside of grading on a curve is that it tends to lead students to think they are competing against each other. In practice, this worry is misplaced. First, I will set grade cut-offs for each assignment to correspond to the quality of the work and depth of understanding reflected by each range of scores not by the number of students that make each range of scores. Second, note that the impact of any individual score on the overall class distribution is trivial -- for example someone making a 10% better grade on a midterm raises the class semester average by .1%.
Also, for this type of project students often stress about whether they will be penalized because their project may not be as elaborate as that of some of the other groups in the class. Again, this is not something to worry about. The project is hard enough without looking over your shoulder at other students. By and large, most students do quite well on the project -- the consequence is that the project has less effect than you might think on the curve. A warning, however: if you punt the project, you will fail the course.
In some courses, the TAs and instructor have to spend a lot of time dealing with regrading appeals, time that would be better spent helping students learn the material. Absolutely come to us if we make an arithmetic error, but realize that a few points here and there are extremely unlikely to make any difference in your final grade. If you believe that we assigned too little credit for your work, you may submit your work for a regrade under the following restrictions. (1) All regrade requests must be submitted with a clear, written statement that explains why you believe the original grade was incorrect. (2) All requests for regrades must be submitted within 1 calendar week of when the graded work is returned. (3) We will regrade the entire exam, problem set, or project assignment, and if we were overly generous we will deduct points. Thus, you grade can go up or down on a regrade.
Late policy. No extensions will be given for completing the programming projects, except that each team will be allowed 4 flexible slip days for the projects. A team may divide their slip days across projects in any way they wish to extend deadlines for the projects. (The exception: you can not use any slip days on the final project, which is due on the last class day.) To help the TA track your slip-day status, the top of each project's README file must include the line:
Cooperation and cheating. We encourage you to discuss the problem sets and programming assignments with your colleagues. We welcome discussions of possible interpretations of questions, solution approaches, and points of confusion. You are also welcome to use existing public libraries in your programming assignments (such as public classes for queues, trees, etc.) You may also look at operating systems code for public domain software such as Linux. Such activities qualify under approved collaboration practices and you are welcome to take advantage of them. You may not look at any course project material relating to any project similar to this course's class project. For example, you may not look at the work done by a student in past years' courses, and you may not look at similar course projects at other universities. If you are unsure about whether a particular source of external information is permitted, contact the instructor before looking at it.
Note that cooperation is not the same thing as cheating. The project assignments and exams must be the work of the student turning them in. Students who violate University rules on scholastic dishonesty are subject to disciplinary penalties, including the possibility of failure in the course and/or dismissal from the University. Because such dishonesty harms the individual, all students, and the integrity of the University, policies on scholastic dishonesty will be strictly enforced.
It is generally OK to verbally discuss the concepts needed to do projects assignments. Three guidelines will help you keep on the right side of the line.
Note that these guidelines are necessarily generalizations and can not account for all circumstances. Intellectual dishonesty can end your career, and it is your responsibility to stay on the right side of the line. If you are not sure about something, ask.
Midterms. There will be one midterm given at the date and time listed above. If you have a conflict with the midterm, let the instructor know during the first two weeks of class, and we will schedule a makeup for a time before the exam is given to the rest of the class. Unless stated otherwise, both the midterm and final exam will be closed book and will cover material from lectures, readings, problem sets, and the projects.
Projects. Perhaps the most valuable part of this class will be the programming assignments. The projects will be done in two-person teams. Further details about the project will be covered in later handouts.
Homework. We will regularly post problem sets for you to test and improve your knowledge of the material. The solutions will also be posted. The intent is for you to use these as self exams to assess your understanding of the course material and evaluate your performance, all without affecting your grade. Of course, the lack of an actual grade or a deadline for completing these problem sets may be an invitation for procrastination or even ignoring this process altogether. But we trust that you will find this a useful aspect of the class and we strongly urge you to take advantage of it. To make effective use of this feature, complete the sets by the specified deadline. Delaying the problem sets with the intent of accumulating them and solving them at once before the exams is not an effective strategy.
Accommodations for students with disabilities. The University of Texas at Austin provides upon request appropriate academic adjustments for qualified students with disabilities. For more information, contact the Office of the Dean of Students at 471-6259, 471-4641 TTY.