CSCI2321 Spring 2003

Principles of Computer Design

Location and Time - Halsell 228, 1:30-2:20pm MWF

Professor - Dr. Mark Lewis, Office: HAS 201K, Phone: 999-7022, e-mail: The best way to reach me typically is by e-mail. I check it frequently and try to respond promptly.

Office Hours - 3:00-5:00 M, 9:30-11:00 W, 2:30-5:30 R, or by appointment. I'm in my office a lot so you should free to drop by. If you are coming from lower campus you can always call or write a short e-mail to see if I'm in and available at that time. During the Monday office hours I will be in 228 for an open lab with PAD2 students, but I will certainly also have time to meet with you if you come by.

Text - "Computer Organization & Design: The Hardware/Software Interface, 2nd Edition" by Patterson and Hennessy. This is an exceptional book that you should not only buy, but hold onto. There are also a large number of web sites that you can go to to find information on processors currently on the market. The Links page will point you to several of these.

Course Description - This course is intended to give you a more intimate understanding of the tools that you use all the time in computer science. It will introduce you both to the hardware that actually executes the commands that you give in your programs and the concepts of machine and assembly lanaguages that the hardware can actually understand.

When you have completed this course, you should have a fairly clear picture of exactly what happens in the steps after you write a program. While this course will not teach you how to do significant code development in assembly language or exactly how to lay out and fabricate microprocessors, it will give you a firm foundation to build upon should you decide to persue either one of those areas in the future.

As my previous students can attest, the courses that I teach are aggressive. I have one overriding objective in my courses and that is to make you think. If I make you think new thoughts for most of the semester I will have done well. If I give you new ways to think thoughts (old and new), then I will truly have succeeded. This course is not about busy work, though inevitably a fair bit of work will be required. Unlike most of the classes you have taken previously in CS, this course does no focus significantly on coding. As such, the task of internalizing the material will happen much more as you turn concepts over in your head instead of as your fingers tap on a keyboard.

Grades - The grade for this course will be composed of four components. These components and what they entail is discussed below. This table summarizes how each component contributes to your grade in the course.

Assignments (8)
Tests (2)
Quizzes (6 drop 1)
Class Participation

Assignments - Eight assignments will be given over the course of the semester and each will contribute equally to this portion of your grade. These assignments will be appropriate to what we are working on in the course. Some will involve assembly language programming but most will have you solving problems from the text. Unless otherwise specified, all assignments will be due on the date shown on the course schedule. Late assignments will be deducted 10 points for each day that they are late. After 5 days they will not be accepted.

Tests - There will be two tests during the course of the semester. The first is an in-class midterm exam and the second is the final. Each will count for 15% of your course grade. See the lectures page for the date of the first test. The final will be held during the normally scheduled time, 8:30am Friday, 5/9. If you are going to miss a test I MUST be told in advance, even if it is a phone call 5 minutes before class. If you have to take a makeup exam odds are good that it will be at least slightly more difficult than the original.

Quizzes - There will also be six quizzes given during the course of the semester. These quizzes serve many purposes in this class. First, it gives both you and I information about how well you are understanding the material in the class. Second, and more importantly, they will help you prepare for the test and the final. The quizzes will be short, 10 minutes, however, they will have questions that are similar in format to what you can expect to see on the tests (only fewer of them). They will be given promptly at the beginning of class to help insure that you arrive on time, and they will often cover material from the reading for that day to help provide you with incentive to actually do the readings. Note that these quizzes do not have a huge impact upon your grade. Because one of them is dropped, there will be no make-up quizzes.

Class Participation - I like you to participate in class. Discussion is typically far more entertaining than listening to me drone on for 50 minutes. It can also be more educational as the people most inclined to understand your confusion on certain points will be your peers. This part of the grade will actually come from 3 sources. The first is attendance. You can't participate in class if you aren't there. The second is verbal participation during class. I do keep track of this over the course of the semester and it does matter. Third, you can send me links to interesting things that you might happen to find on the web. If I think that they are significant enough, I will link them to the course web page. Each link you send me is worth participation points.