The goal of the course is to convey the fundamental concepts that enable programs to execute on real hardware. Those concepts include how the operating system virtualizes the hardware to provide basic services and abstractions to enable a user program to effectively use the available hardware resources. The course also addresses how different programming constructs and idioms work.

The basic abstraction of a program running as one or more threads of control in a single flat address space (a Unix process) is the key to the course. Emphasizing that abstraction as the underlying model for understanding how a program works, from both the user program and hardware perspective (with the OS in between), run as a theme through all topics in the course. Examples include C pointers (to data and functions), function calls and runtime stack management, dynamic memory management in the heap, and the fork/exec system calls.


Prerequisite → C- or better in CMSC132 and MATH 141
Corequisite → CMSC 250 (or equivalent)
Credits → 4

Course Coordinators

Name Office
Anwar Mamat AVW 3259
Nelson Padua-Perez AVW 1203
Neil Spring AVW 4133

For office hours and other contact information, visit the staff link.


Title Authors ISBN Type
C Programming, 2nd edition K.N. King 9780393979503 Required
Computer Systems: A Programmer's Perspective, 3rd edition R.E. Bryant and D. R. O'Hallaron 9780134092669 Recommended

Course Topics (Subject to Change)


Additional information for students in the honor's (cmsc216H) section can be found at Honors.


Final grades will be computed according the following weights:

26% Projects
10% Announced Quizzes
6% Exercises, Lab, Lecture Work
28% Midterms(2), (12% and 16%)
30% Final Exam

Once we have graded any class material (e.g., exams, projects, etc.) we will post an announcement and a deadline by which you must submit any regrade request (if necessary). It is your responsibility to submit regrade requests by the specified deadline; no regrade requests will be processed afterwards.


Regarding Online Posting of Project Implementations

Class Attendance

Keep in mind that in-lecture graded exercises (sometimes without advance notice) are an integral part of the work of the course.

TA Room/Office Hours

Office hours get extremely busy the day before a project deadline. Therefore do not wait to start your projects. Regarding office hours and the TA Room:


You need to keep backups of your projects as you develop them. No extensions will be granted because you accidentally erased your project. Feel free to use the submit server as a backup tool by submitting often. You can also use tools like git, etc. Do not post code in any online system that is accessible to others (e.g., GitHub).

Academic Integrity

Note that academic dishonesty includes not only cheating, fabrication, and plagiarism, but also includes helping other students commit acts of academic dishonesty by allowing them to obtain copies of your work. In short, all submitted work must be your own. Cases of academic dishonesty will be pursued to the fullest extent possible as stipulated by the Office of Student Conduct.

It is very important for you to be aware of the consequences of cheating, fabrication, facilitation, and plagiarism. For more information on the Code of Academic Integrity or the Student Honor Council, please visit

Computer Science Department Academic Integrity Information

The CS Department takes academic integrity seriously. Information on how the CS Department views and handle academic integrity matters can be found at Academic Integrity.

Examples of Academic Integrity Violations

The following are examples of academic integrity violations:

Additional information can be found in the sections titled "Academic Integrity" and "Code of Student Conduct" available at Course Related Policies.


We will be using (Piazza) for class communication. You will not be able to register to Piazza yourself. Your instructor will register you using the e-mail you have in the school system.

Excused Absence and Academic Accommodations

See the section titled "Attendance, Absences, or Missed Assignments" available at Course Related Policies.

Disability Support Accommodations

See the section titled "Accessibility" available at Course Related Policies.



All course materials are copyright UMCP, Department of Computer Science © 2017. All rights reserved. Students are permitted to use course materials for their own personal use only. Course materials may not be distributed publicly or provided to others (excepting other students in the course), in any way or format.