WPI Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Computer Science Department

Operating Systems

CS 502
Summer 2001

You will study the design and theory of multiprogrammed operating systems, concurrent processes, process communication, input/output devices, memory management, resource allocation and scheduling are studied. The intent is to familiarize you with OS theory past and present, while exposing them to some practical issues in OS implementation. Hence, part of the course deals with bookwork, part with implementation projects and part with OS research papers. Prerequisites are a working knowledge of common data structures such as stacks, queues, and linked lists; a knowledge of computer organization; a strong programming background; and an interest in learning about operating systems.


Course Information

Section 1: Thursdays, 1:00pm - 4:50pm, WB229

Section 2: Thursdays, 5:30pm - 9:20pm, FL320

Professor: Mark Claypool
email: claypool@cs.wpi.edu
office hours: M 11-12, W 3-4
place: Fuller Labs, room 138
phone: (508) 831-5409

Teaching Assistant: Choong-Soo Lee
email: clee01@cs.wpi.edu
office hours: T 5-7pm, Th 5-6pm
place: FL314
phone: (508) 831-5856

Email aliases:
class: cs502@cs.wpi.edu
instructor: cs502_ta@cs.wpi.edu

Required Textbook:

Good Reference Textbooks:

Grading Policy

Final grades will be computed as follows:

Final grades will reflect the extent to which you have demonstrated understanding of the material, and completed the assigned projects. The base level grade will be a "B" which indicates that the basic objectives on assignments and exams have been met. A grade of "A" will indicate significant achievement beyond the basic objectives and a grade of "C" will indicate not all basic objectives were met, but work was satisfactory for credit. No incomplete grades will be assigned unless there exist exceptional, extenuating circumstances. Similarly, no makeup exams will be given unless there exist exceptional, extenuating circumstances.


There will be two in-class exams. The first is roughly mid-way through the semester and the second is during the last week. There is a remote possibility of a pop quiz for which no advance notice will be provided. Exams will be closed book and closed notes, unless otherwise indicated. The majority of each exam will cover basic ideas and objectives of the class with a few questions testing additional understanding and insight.

Late Policy

Late anything will be be penalized 10% of total assignment value per day (with the weekend counting as one day) or partial day, and no assignments will be accepted after seven days beyond the due date. All assignments are due at the start of class on the due date. Projects will be submitted as directed in class. Exceptions to these rules can be made only beforehand.


Here is the list of topics covered in this course.

The reading material for the various chapters are as follows:


Slides from the in-class lectures will be available the day following class. Here are the electronic versions of what we have so far:

Admin pdf ppt
Introduction pdf ppt
Processes pdf ppt
Process Scheduling pdf ppt
Process Synchronization pdf ppt
Parallel Systems and Threads pdf ppt
Memory Management pdf ppt
Virtual Memory pdf ppt
File Systems pdf ppt
Input/Output Devices pdf ppt
Sockets pdf ppt
OS Support for Multimedia - QLinux pdf ppt
Review pdf ppt
Final Exam Review pdf ppt


There are 4 (maybe 3) short homework assignments. Homeworks are to be turned in individually. Discussion of problems among students is encouraged, but when it comes to ultimately solving the problem, your answers must be your own.

Homework and due-dates will be placed here as they are defined.

Programming Projects

There are 4 (maybe 3) programming projects that are designed to give you some coding experience and expose you to practical systems issues.

The implementation can be done in a variety of environments and languages. However, C and Unix implementations are encouraged because of the relative ease of exploring OS systems issues in that environment. C and Unix will not be taught as part of this course. System calls and other aspects of Unix will be introduced as needed and as the course progresses. Specific Unix help on the programming project can be arranged on a case by case basis.

You will work alone or in a group of two for the project. I'd prefer to limit the groups to only 2, but groups of 3 are also possible. If you really want a group with a different number of students, come talk to me.

There is no specific CS laboratory assigned for this course. Your CCC computer accounts can be used for any and all of the assignments. Other systems, such as personal computer systems, may also be acceptable for some projects. However, you must ensure that your code compiles and runs on the CCC systems as that is where they will be turned in and graded.

Projects and due-dates will be placed here as they are defined.


In this section, there will be code samples discussed in class, practice exams or any other demonstration-type class materials.

Mid-Semester exam stuff:

Final exam stuff:

Here are some sample programs concerning processes:

Here are samples of using shared memory and semaphores:

Here are some samples showing the use of software signals:

Here are two samples showing a race condition and using semaphores to fix it:

Some sample thread code showing a race condtion with threads and using a mutex to fix it (compile with -lpthread):

Sample code for using TCP sockets:

Here are some misc samples:

Here are some code samples of the SOS:

OS Hotlinks


Linux is a completely free Unix operating system. Linux runs primarily on 386/486/Pentium PC's, but has been ported to various other architectures. If you like Unix, want to learn more about system administration and have access to a PC, I recommend checking it out. Read a short info sheet or a more detailed info sheet for more information. You might also want to check out "The Cathedral or the Bazaar", an interesting look at open source software development, such as Linux.

You might also try the Linux Source Navigator, a CGI interface to browse the entire Linux kernel source. The Navigator formats the raw source tree on-the-fly, using italics, bolds, colors and hyperlinks to present the source in a much more managable format. Right now, there's just a 2.0.0 kernel set up to use i386 architecture, but more versions may be there shortly.

I, Cringely

A weekly column by Robert X. Cringely that provides a humorous but profound look at the world of Information Technology.
"What makes Cringely such an interesting writer is the way he combines a solid understanding of technology, the ability to explain it simply, and an irreverence for those who, at the highest levels, hawk it" IEEE Spectrum, May 1997.


Your text book mentions the Nachos System in the Appendix (pages 699-714). Although this system is too advanced for an intro course on operating systems, keen students may like to look further into the Nachos software.


Some useful course material (e.g. slides, notes, Java simulations, etc.) includes:

You can also have a look at the Yahoo! Operating Systems pages and related WWW pages:

Or perhaps you would like to know more about some of the companies involved in commercial Operating Systems:

[Return to the WPI Homepage] [Return to the CS Homepage] [Return to Mark Claypool's Homepage]

Mark Claypool (claypool@cs.wpi.edu)