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 CSE 451: Operating Systems, Winter 2011
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Course Overview



The vast majority of administrative information regarding this course (reading assignments, homework assignments, project assignments, helpful hints, etc.) will be communicated via the class email list. Be sure to check your CSE 451 email at least daily!

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We reserve the right to change this, but grades will be assigned roughly as follows:

  • Quizzes: 30% (throw out the lowest quiz)
  • Projects: 35%
  • Final: 30%
  • Incidentals: 5%

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There will only by a final exam for this course:

  • Midterm: No midterm!
  • Final: Monday, March 14 08:30-10:20

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As you've probably guessed from the allocation of grades, programming projects will be a major portion of this class. This quarter, we will be hacking the Microsoft Windows NT kernel in various ways; our goal is for you to "get your hands dirty" with the guts of a real operating system.

Correspondingly, you need to be quite comfortable programming in C. (If you know C++, then you basically already know C.) If you're not already well-versed in C programming, you will need to teach yourself, and do so in a hurry. The standard reference is The C Programming Language, Brian W. Kernighan and Dennis M. Ritchie.

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(Many of these policies are taken verbatim from previous instances of this course.)
  • "Reasonable Person Principle": Let's all be "reasonable people" working on the same team to make this a great learning experience. The "Reasonable Person Principle" simply states that a reasonable request made in a reasonable fashion shall be reasonably handled by reasonable persons.
  • Cheating vs. Collaboration: Please read CSE's Academic Misconduct Policy, taken from our Undergraduate Handbook.

    Collaboration is a good thing. On the other hand, cheating is a serious offense. Please don't do it! Concern about cheating creates an unpleasant environment for everyone. If you cheat, you risk losing your position as a student in the department and the college. The department's policy on cheating is to report any cases to the college cheating committee. What follows afterwards is not fun - for anyone!

    So, how do you draw the line between collaboration and cheating? A great one-sentence guideline is highlighted in our Academic Misconduct Policy: "In general, any activity you engage in for the purpose of earning credit while avoiding learning, or to help others do so, is likely to be an act of Academic Misconduct."

    Note that this encompasses not just excessive reliance on students who are in the course this quarter, but excessive reliance on work done in previous quarters, at other universities, by the textbook authors (e.g., homework solutions that may be available on the web), etc. (Hopefully it will astonish you to learn than in past quarters a few students have copied answers to the textbook exercises from the web, betting that the TAs were too lazy to type the occasional high-falutin' phrase into Google. This is a perfect example of "earning credit while avoiding learning.")

    Here are some additional groundrules that may be helpful:

    The Gilligan's Island Rule: This rule says that you are free to meet with fellow student(s) and discuss assignments with them. Writing on a board or shared piece of paper is acceptable during the meeting; however, you should not take any written (electronic or otherwise) record away from the meeting. This applies when the assignment is supposed to be an individual effort or whenever two teams discuss common problems they are each encountering (inter-group collaboration). After the meeting, engage in a half hour of mind-numbing activity (like watching an episode of Gilligan's Island) before starting to work on the assignment. This will assure that you are able to reconstruct what you learned from the meeting, by yourself, using your own brain.

    The Credit Your Sources Rule: To assure that all collaboration is on the level, you must always write the name(s) of your collaborators or other sources on your assignment. This and other rules are listed in CSE's Academic Misconduct Policy.

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[comments to Tom Bergan]