CSE 333 21wi Systems Programming
Information and Syllabus

Logistics and Contact Information: See the main course web site www.cs.washington.edu/333/. Look there for information about the course including meeting times, staff, office hours, communications, etc.

[ prereqs | topics | assignments | exercises | exams | grades| texts| policies ]




Approximate topic list

Assignments and Computing Environment

This course is designed to give you substantial experience with programming. There will be four major programming assignments during the quarter; the assignments are designed to build on top of each other, so it is in your interest to make sure that earlier assignments are rock-solid.

All of our assignments and exercises assume you will be using the recently updated Allen School Centos 8 Linux environment with gcc/g++ version 9. There are three ways to do this:

The Allen School Centos 8 Linux machines have gcc/g++ versions 8 and 9 available. Version 8 is the default, but for all of our work we will be using version 9. The best way to configure the correct version is to execute the command touch ~/.gcc9 in a terminal window, then log off and log back on. When this marker file is present, the scripts that execute during logon will configure things to use gcc 9. You should check that the right version is set up by typing gcc -v in a termnal window. This setup only needs to be done once and after that you should get the correct gcc version each time you log on. It does need to be repeated once for the attus and for the home VM if you use both since they each have separate file systems and home directories.

Regardless of where you develop your assignments, we will test and grade them on the CSE lab machines or attu using gcc 9, so you must ensure that your code works properly there.


Great programmers write great code. People become great programmers writing lots of code and learning from the experience. We will be assigning a mandatory programming exercise with most lectures, due before the next lecture. These will be relatively short and simple, but they will reinforce the material from the lecture. We will grade them, but the grading will be course-grained, roughly as follows:

We expect 0's and 1's to be rare, and 3's to be less common at first, with more 3's as the quarter progresses and earlier feedback is taken into account. As with larger assignments, exercises will be graded and evaluated on the CSE linux machines.


We will not have traditional midterm and final exams this quarter because of the remote learning setup. But exams do serve an important function by providing the opportunity to review and solidify course material, especially concepts that do not surface in the assignment or exercise code. Our plan is to have 3 or 4 written "review assignments" to do this. We want each of these to be roughly equivalent in length and difficulty to half of a regular 1-hour exam, assigned over a fairly short period of time. More details will be provided later.


The initial plan for 21wi is the following. We will adjust this once we see how the review assignments evolve, and we may have to make additional adjustments as the quarter evolves:


There are no strictly required texts for this courses. Most people will find it useful to have both a C and a C++ reference; suggestions are given below. We recommend that you have access to a copy of the C++ Primer as C++ is a big, complex language and it is hard to understand how it fits together from google searches and stack overflow snippets and folklore.

Many of these books are freely available to UW students through the UW Library's subscription to Safari Books Online. Go to https://www.oreilly.com/online-learning/, click sign-in at the top right, and sign in with your uw.edu email address to access them.

Strongly Recommended (i.e., basically required)


The course web resources page has links to several useful C, C++, and Linux reference and tutorial sites.


(Many of these policies are taken verbatim from other CSE courses and University policies.)

Accommodations: Please refer to the university policies regarding accommodations and religous accommodations. Those policies apply in this class as everywhere else at UW. Please contact the instructor, DRS, or the course staff so we can help.

Late Policy:The standard CSE 333 late policy is as follows: Project assignments are expected to be done on time, however we realize that occasionally a bit of slack is needed for unexpected problems or to get rid of that "last" bug. For the entire quarter, you may have four free "late days". You are strongly advised to save them for emergencies. You may not use more than two for the same assignment, and on group projects (if we have any) you may only use late days if all members of the group have them available, and all members of the group will be charged for each late day used. They must be used in 24-hour (integer) chunks. If you are not finished with an assignment and have no more remaining late days you should turn in your best effort for partial credit either on time or after using any available late day(s). This policy may not be the same as in other classes. You are responsible for understanding it if you choose to submit late work.

For exercises, we will not accept any late; you must turn them in on time.

For Winter Quarter 2021: Given the unusual distance learning circumstances this quarter, we will be flexible when needed about deadlines. The goal is to stay on schedule as best we can, while acknowledging that you, and we, may well require some adjustments. We will try to be clear about any changes in advance so everyone can plan accordingly. Please contact the course staff in advance if you find it will be difficult to meet deadlines.

Reasonableness: No set of rules can apply perfectly in every setting. We will make reasonable exceptions, and in return, we expect you to be reasonable as well.

Cheating vs. Collaboration: Please see the separate discussion of Academic Integrity. You are expected to read and understand every word in that document. Ask first if you have any questions.

Collaboration is a very good thing. On the other hand, cheating is considered a very serious offense and is vigorously prosecuted. Vigorous prosecution requires that you be advised of the cheating policy of the course before the offending act.

For this course, the policy is simple: don't cheat. You know it when you're doing it. We'll recognize it when you do it. As an easy example, sharing assignment solution code with each other is cheating, as is copying homework solutions from any source. As another easy example, relying heavily on some resource (e.g., some example code you found on the Web) without attributing it in your turnin is cheating.

That said, collaborating is, for many people, an effective way to learn. Learning isn't cheating. Helping each other write programs that are not assignments or exercises isn't cheating. Misrepresenting that you've learned something, or done the work that implies you've learned something, almost certainly is.