Title image Fall 2018

Syllabus for Spring 2018


A. Tanenbaum, Structured Computer Organization, 6th ed, Prentice Hall, 2012.


Projects 45%
Weekly Quizzes 25%
Weekly Homework 10%
Final Exam 15%
Class Participation 5%

Help and Discussion Outside of Lecture

Office Hours and Email

Stephanie and Bruce will both be available to help. If you want to discuss a computer science concept or ask for help regarding an assignment, please do not hesitate to come to our offices.

In addition to coming by our offices for help, you are welcome to send us email with a question. We read our email very frequently and usually respond to such questions as soon as we read them.

Evening TA Help

In order to provide as much help as possible to you as you work on assignments in this course, the CS Dept has hired upper-level CS students to work as TAs in the Davis 102 and 122 lab in the evenings. You are strongly encouraged to take advantage of this resource. The TAs are getting paid to help you, so don't feel guilty about asking them for help. The evening TA hours are: Sunday 4-10pm and Monday 4-6pm and 7-10pm, and Tuesday 4-6pm and 7-10pm.



Attendance and Participation

For this course to be truly successful, your presence and participation are important. This course covers material that is new enough that the lectures and materials provided by the professor will be the primary resource for the course. Asking questions in class is an important part of learning. When you have a question, ask it. It is highly probable that one of your classmates has the same question. When you have an opportunity to share your opinion or your answer, please speak up. Your professor wants to hear what you have to say. And, of course, to participate in class you must attend class. If you must miss a class, you are responsible for making up the material covered in that lecture.

Class attendance and engagement is part of your participation grade.


Homework assignments must be turned in on time. No late short assignments will be accepted because we will refer to their solutions in class immediate after the deadline.

Projects will generally be due on the Monday after the corresponding lab. Some projects will occur over more than one week. Projects submitted by the specified deadline will receive full credit. Late projects will not receive credit for any extensions, limiting the maximum grade to no more than 26/30.

You may take one extension on a project deadline and hand in the project on Friday instead of Monday for full credit. You cannot request an extension for the final project. To use your extension, email the professor prior to the deadline for the project.


There will be a short quiz on most Fridays during the semester. When computing the final grade, we will drop your lowest quiz grade. You may make up a missed quiz only if you email one of the professors before class to let us know you will not be there and to request a time when you can make up the quiz. It is imperative that you let us know before before class begins.

Collaboration and 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.

In addition to the ethical implications of dishonesty, you undermine your ability to learn when you cheat. Honesty, integrity, and personal responsibility are cornerstones of a Colby education and provide the foundation for scholarly inquiry, intellectual discourse, and an open and welcoming campus community. These values are articulated in the Colby Affirmation and are central to this course. Students are expected to demonstrate academic honesty in all aspects of this course.

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 colby.edu/academicintegrity.

Sexual Misconduct/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 http://www.colby.edu/sexualviolence/.

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.

  • We respect each other and ourselves.
  • We respect our physical spaces on campus.
  • We respect our academics and complete work honestly.

Weekly Topics and Readings

  • Introduction
  • Binary representation and arithmetic
  • Gates
Tanenbaum, Chapter 1, 2.2
  • Combinational circuits
  • Adders, other useful components
  • ALU
Tanenbaum, Chapter 3.1, 3.2
Combinational Circuits Project
  • VHDL Basics
  • Flip-flops
  • State Machines
Tandenbaum, Chapter 3.1, 3.2
Combinational Circuits Project II
  • VHDL State Machines
  • Registers
  • Buses
Tanenbaum, Chapter 3.3
Sequential Circuit Design
  • State machines with instructions
  • The pieces of a CPU
  • Computer system: CPU + memory
Tanenbaum, Chapter 4.1
Programmable Circuit Design
  • IAS Computer
  • Memory
  • Memory Hierarchies
Tanenbaum, Chapter 2
Programmable Circuit Design II
  • Cache
  • Cache mapping and replacement
  • Cache designs and write policies
Tanenbaum, Chapter 2
  • Instruction Set Architectures
  • CISC v. RISC
  • Addressing Memory
Tanenbaum, Chapters 2, 5
Memory Design
  • Addressing Modes
  • Register Design
  • Control Flow and Functions
Tanenbaum, Chapter 5
CPU Design
  • Real Instruction Formats
  • Assembly Language
  • Two-pass Assembler
Tanenbaum, Chapter 7
Assembler Project
  • Pipeline architectures
  • Superscalar architectures
  • Branch Prediction
Tanenbaum, Chapter 4.4, 4.5
Final Project
  • Paging
  • Segmentation
  • Threading
Tanenbaum, Chapter 6
  • SIMD Architectures / GPUs
  • Multi-threading chips
  • Symmetric Multi-processor architectures
Tanenbaum, Chapter 8