Computer organization focuses on how computers work. Students learn the fundamental hardware components of computers, including storage (RAM, hard disks), input/output, and most importantly the processor (CPU). They learn how computer components are designed and built on several levels, including the basic electrical component level and the machine language level. They also learn to program in assembly language for one or more simple computer processors.

Credits 4
Section A
Semester Fall 2017
Date Time, Location MWF 9 - 9:50 am, Lovejoy 205
Lecture Instructor Ying Li
Office: Davis 115
Phone: (207)-859-5852
Office hours: MTWR 2:00 - 4:00 pm. If the door is open and I'm not already in a meeting, feel free to come in.
Lab Instructor Bruce Maxwell
Office: Davis 112
Phone: (207)-859-5854
Office hours: Knock. M 10pm-late, R 7:30pm-late. Any time my door is open
Prerequisite CS 151 or equivalent
Course Goals
  1. Students understand standard binary encodings of data and programs.
  2. Students understand the basic electronic components that make up a computer.
  3. Students understand the computer at various layers, including the hardware layer, the machine language layer, and the assembly language layer.
  4. Students are able to write assembly language programs for a simple CPU.
  5. Students understand the significance of new technology in computer science.
  6. Students present methods, algorithms, results, and designs in an organized and competently written manner.
  • Weekly homework: Assigned usually every Wednesday. The deadline is Friday at the beginning of the class.
  • Programming Projects: Assigned usually every Monday. The usual deadline is the following Tuesday midnight.
Submission, Late Policy

The homework deadline is a hard deadline, since we will usually discuss them in class. Please send me your homework via email, and make sure the title of your email follows this format CS232 Fall2017 HW# -- Your Name (e.g., CS232 Fall2017 HW1 -- Ying Li).

The weekly projects will build upon each other, so it is critical to stay on schedule in order to be successful. Projects are graded based on a 30 point scale. Late projects will receive a maximum score of 26/30, so handing in something on the due date is generally better than handing in a complete assignment late.

As you all have busy schedules, you may have one three-day extension you can use at your discretion over the course of the semester, excepting only the final project. That means you may choose to hand in one project on Friday instead of Tuesday. Please email one of the professors to let them know you are taking your extension before the deadline.

  • Weekly quizzes: There will be a 5-10 minute quiz every Friday. The lowest quiz will be dropped.
  • Final exam: It will be on Saturday, December 16.
Class Participation You are expected to attend every class. Discussion is a vital part of the learning experience. Good class discussion needs your contribution.
Grading The course grade will be determined as follows:
  • Projects: 45%
  • Weekly Quizzes: 25%
  • Final Exam: 15%
  • Weekly Homework: 10%
  • Class Participation: 5%
Text Andrew Tanenbaum Structured Computer Organization, Sixth Edition, Prentice Hall, 2012, ISBN 978-0132916523.
Collaboration, Academic honesty

Computer science, both academically and professionally, is a collaborative discipline. In any collaboration, however, all parties are expected to make their own contributions and to generously credit the contributions of others. In our class, therefore, collaboration on homework and programming assignments is encouraged, but you as an individual are responsible for understanding all the material in the assignment and doing your own work. Always strive to do your best, give generous credit to others, start early, and seek help early from both your professors and classmates.

The following rules are intended to help you get the most out of your education and to clarify the line between honest and dishonest work. We reserve the right to ask you to verbally explain the reasoning behind any answer or code that you turn in and to modify your project grade based on your answers. It is vitally important that you turn in work that is your own. We do use automated plagiarism detection software, so please be sure to abide by these, rather minimal, rules. Reports of academic dishonesty are handled by an academic review board and a finding of academic dishonesty may result in significant sanctions. For more details on Colby's Academic Integrity policies and procedures, see

  • If you have had a substantive discussion of any homework or programming solution with a classmate, then be sure to cite them in your write-up. If you are unsure of what constitutes "substantive", then ask me or err on the side of caution. As one rule of thumb, if you see more than 10 lines of someone else's code, then you should cite them. You will not be penalized for working together.
  • You must not copy answers or code from another student either by hand or electronically. Another way to think about it is that you should be talking English with one another, not program languages.
The Colby Affirmation

Colby College is a community dedicated to learning and committed to the growth and well-being of all its members.

As a community devoted to intellectual growth, we value academic integrity. We agree to take ownership of our academic work, to submit only work that is our own, to fully acknowledge the research and ideas of others in our work, and to abide by the instructions and regulations governing academic work established by the faculty.

As a community built on respect for ourselves, each other, and our physical environment, we recognize the diversity of people who have gathered here and that genuine inclusivity requires active, honest, and compassionate engagement with one another. We agree to respect each other, to honor community expectations, and to comply with College policies.

As a member of this community, I pledge to hold myself and others accountable to these values. More ...

Title IX Statement

Colby College prohibits and will not tolerate sexual misconduct or gender-based discrimination of any kind. Colby is legally obligated to investigate sexual misconduct (including, but not limited to sexual assault and sexual harassment).

If you wish to speak confidentially about an incident of sexual misconduct, please contact Colby Counseling Services (207-859-4490) or the Director of the Gender and Sexual Diversity Program, Emily Schusterbauer (207-859-4093).

Students should be aware that faculty members are considered responsible employees; as such, if you disclose an incident of sexual misconduct to a faculty member, they have an obligation to report it to Colby's Title IX Coordinator. "Disclosure" may include communication in-person, via email/phone/text, or through class assignments.

To learn more about sexual misconduct or report an incident, visit

© 2017 Ying Li. Page last modified: .