2019 Computer Systems

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Academic unit or major
Undergraduate major in Mathematical and Computing Science
Endo Toshio  Nukada Akira 
Course component(s)
Lecture / Exercise     
Day/Period(Room No.)
Tue5-6(W621)  Fri5-8(W621)  
Course number
Academic year
Offered quarter
Syllabus updated
Lecture notes updated
Language used
Access Index

Course description and aims

Modern computers consist of digital circuits implemented on silicon wafers. However, humans program with textual, high-level programming languages such as C++ and Python, and it is not obvious how abstract computing models that humans perceive are actually executed on hardware. In practice, there are many layers involved in the execution, and for this particular course, first we study language abstraction at the lowest level, namely machine languages, and then how hardware can be constructed to interpret and execute such machine languages. In the lab course we will also learn structure of processors by constructing a CPU simulator.

Student learning outcomes

The goal of this course is to learn the hardware architectural concepts of computers, how they execute the programs in principle. Also, we will cover recent advances in computer architectures, especially techniques to attain speed and execution efficiency, in order to attain insights into how an efficient computing infrastructure can be constructed.
We will first be learning the lowest level programming language, namely machine language, and will then learn how hardware components such as ALUs and memory devices are designed with digital circuits. This will allow students to come to a complete understanding of the abstraction layers of computers based on the von Neumann architecture.


Computer architecture, machine language, addressing, von Neumann machine, digital circuits, adders, expressing values with binary numbers, ALU, combinatorial logic, truth table, finite state logic, data path, single cycle execution, multi cycle execution, finite state machine / automaton, microprograming, pipelining, storage / memory, DRAM, memory hierarchy, cache, I/O, hard disk, flash memory, performance, parallelism.

Competencies that will be developed

Specialist skills Intercultural skills Communication skills Critical thinking skills Practical and/or problem-solving skills

Class flow

For each lecture class a set of PowerPoint slides will be distributed prior to the class. The lab course will have an assignment every one or two classes, and a report is to be submitted for each assignment. The grade will be determined based on the combination of the score of the final exam and the submitted reports.

Course schedule/Required learning

  Course schedule Required learning
Class 1 Introduction of lecture series, computing history Not specified
Class 2 Introduction to computer architecture, assembly / machine language (1) arithmetic and logical instructions Not specified
Class 3 Assembly / machine language (2): load/store instructions, control instructions Not specified
Class 4 Assembly / machine language (3): implementing procedures and functions, different instruction set architectures Not specified
Class 5 Performance of computers (1): performance modeling Not specified
Class 6 Performance of computers (2): various performance metrics Not specified
Class 7 Introduction to digital circuits (1): combinatorial logic, truth table, and disjunctive normal form Not specified
Class 8 Introduction to digital circuits (2): Expressing values with binary numbers, implementing ALUs Not specified
Class 9 Introduction to digital circuits (3): various finite state logics and their design Not specified
Class 10 CPU architecture (1): single cycle implementation Not specified
Class 11 CPU architecture (2): multi cycle implementation Not specified
Class 12 CPU acceleration: pipelining and superscalar Not specified
Class 13 Memory hierarchy, cache memory, and virtual memory Not specified
Class 14 various I/O and communication networks Not specified


Not Specified

Reference books, course materials, etc.

Patterson and Hennessy, Computer Organization and Design: The Hardware/Software Interface, Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, 2014.

Assessment criteria and methods

The grade will be determined based on the combination of the score of the final exam and the submitted reports.

Related courses

  • MCS.T204 : Introduction to Computer Science
  • MCS.T214 : Theory of Automata and Languages
  • MCS.T314 : Operating Systems
  • MCS.T334 : Compiler Construction

Prerequisites (i.e., required knowledge, skills, courses, etc.)

Basic knowledge of programming, and Boolean logic

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