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Subject Matter

According to the course bulletin, this course covers computer organization and architecture, including how computer operations are implemented in hardware. Also according to the course bulletin, CSC 174 (Assembly Language) is a prerequisite for the course. However, CSC 174 hasn't been offered in the past several years, so this course will actually cover assembly language, computer representation of data, and the low-level mechanisms of branching and procedure calling, and only touch briefly on how all this is implemented in hardware. Systems II, next semester, will then concentrate on hardware implementations.

This course should be useful for several types of students. Those with an interest in designing computer hardware can use this course as a basis for more advanced study; those primarily interested in writing high-level computer software can use the knowledge of how low-level software and hardware interact to make better-informed decisions about software design; and those who just want to understand how a computer works can gain this understanding.

I assume, in all three cases, that students have a year or two of programming experience in a high-level language. By the end of the semester, you should have an understanding of assembler language (at least that for the MIPS machine we'll study) and be able to write small programs and subroutines in assembler language. You should also understand how both programs and the data on which they operate are represented inside a computer.

Dr. Stephen Bloch
Tue Sep 17 14:29:39 EDT 1996