CSCI 2321 (Principles of Computer Design), Spring 2015:

Course description

This course is about computer organization and design, emphasizing logical design and including the role of performance, the structure of instructions, computer arithmetic, processor control, and methods of performance enhancement. Some attention will also be given to assembly programming.

Basic information

Class meeting times and location


Instructor contact information

Office hours

A current schedule of office hours can be found on my home Web page ( If I'm not in my office during office hours, I should be somewhere in CSI, perhaps in one of the labs helping another student, and there will often be a note on my door saying where to find me.

In addition to scheduled office hours, you're welcome to drop by and see if I'm in my office and free to talk, or you can make an appointment by calling me or sending me e-mail.

E-mail is almost always a good way to reach me; I normally check it fairly often and reply promptly.

Course materials


Web page

Most course-related information (this syllabus, homework and reading assignments, etc.) will be made available via the Web. The course Web page is a starting point for Web-accessible course material; you can find it linked from my home page ( or directly at

Course requirements


Grades in this course will be determined by the results of two major exams (a midterm and a final), several in-class quizzes, several homework assignments, and class attendance/participation, weighted as follows.

Component Maximum points
Midterm exam 100
Final exam 200
Quizzes 50
Homework about 200
Class participation 20

Numeric grades will be calculated as a simple percentage, by dividing total points earned on the above components by total points possible. These numeric grades will then be converted to letter grades based on a curve, but in no case will the resulting letter grades be worse than students would receive based on the following scheme.

Numeric grade Letter grade
90 - 100 A-/A
80 - 89 B-/B/B+
70 - 79 C-/C/C+
60 - 69 D/D+
0 - 59 F


Exams are comprehensive but will emphasize the most recent material. They are scheduled as follows; please plan accordingly (i.e., avoid scheduling anything else for these times).


About every other week there will be a short in-class quiz. Dates will be announced via the course Web page. They will usually cover material from recent classes and reading; the questions will be similar in format to those you are likely to see on the major exams. There will be about six quizzes over the course of the semester, and the lowest grade will be dropped.

Homework assignments

Several homework assignments will be required for successful completion of this course. Some will require programming; others will not. Detailed requirements will be provided as part of each assignment; due dates will be announced via the course Web page.


Regular class attendance is strongly encouraged; class participation grades will be based largely on attendance.


Course-related announcements will sometimes be made by sending e-mail to the Trinity e-mail addresses of all registered students. Students are strongly encouraged to read mail sent to their Trinity addresses frequently.

Late and missed work

Exams can be made up only in cases of documented conflict with a university-sponsored activity, documented medical emergency, or conflict with a religious holiday. Quizzes cannot be made up, but the lowest quiz score will be dropped, so you can miss one quiz without penalty.

Unless otherwise stated for a particular assignment, homework will be accepted up to one class period late, but no more, at a penalty of 10 percent off per working day. This penalty may be waived or additional time allowed at the instructor's discretion in cases of illness or conflict with a university-sponsored activity or religious holiday.

If you have unusual circumstances (as we all sometimes do), please discuss these with me as far in advance as possible.

Academic integrity at Trinity

All students are covered by the Trinity University Honor Code, which prohibits dishonesty in academic work.

The Code asserts that the academic community is based on honesty and trust. It defines specific violations as well as the procedure to determine if a violation has occurred. It also covers the process of hearings for alleged violations and the various sanctions applied for specific violations, and it provides for an appeal process.

The Code is implemented by the Academic Honor Council. Under the Code, a faculty member will (or a student may) report an alleged violation to the Academic Honor Council. It is the task of the Council to collect the pertinent evidence, adjudicate, and assign a sanction within certain guidelines if a violation has been verified.

Students who are under the Honor Code are required to pledge all written work that is submitted for a grade: ``On my honor, I have neither given nor received any unauthorized assistance on this work'' and their signature. The pledge may be abbreviated ``pledged'' with a signature. (For electronically submitted work, you should include the text somewhere in what you submit.)

Collaboration and academic integrity in this course

Unless otherwise specified, all work submitted for a grade (homework assignments, quizzes, and exams) must represent the student's own individual effort. Unless otherwise stated, all submitted work will be considered pledged work.

Discussion of homework assignments among students is allowed, but not to the point where detailed answers are being written collectively. If you are working with another student in a lab, seeing another student's answers may be unavoidable, but please do not share answers electronically. If you are uncertain about whether a particular level of collaboration is acceptable, please ask for clarification. Please also note when you turn in an assignment whether you sought help with it from other students or faculty (e.g., ``J. Random and I worked on this assignment together'' or ``I got help with this assignment from one of the ACM tutors''). Graded papers and sample solutions from previous semesters (exams, quizzes, and homeworks) are off limits. Answers that are identical beyond coincidence (either to another student's work or to a sample solution from a previous semester) will be considered to be in violation of the Honor Code, and will result in appropriate action. You are responsible for the security of your work, both electronic and hard copy.

Berna Massingill