CS 850 Advanced Topics in Computer Architecture and Operating Systems

Course Info

  • Instructor: Ali Mashtizadeh
  • Discussion: Piazza
  • Email: mashti AT uwaterloo DOT ca (start subject line with CS850)
  • Lecture: Tuesday/Thursday 1:00PM-2:20PM
  • Office Hours: DC 3602, TBA

Grading (subject to change)

  • 20% Class Participation
  • 20% Paper Summaries/Presentations
  • 10% Mini Project
  • 50% Project

Class Participation

Everyone is expected to read every paper and be prepared to discuss them in class.

Course Overview

The course will give students a good background in seminal papers on operating system design issues. We will cover many topics including multi-core, synchronization, security, storage and file systems, virtual machines, and language-driven design. The group project will provide students with the opportunity to work on a small project in the area and conduct further investigation and problem solving on their own.


  • Undergraduate level understanding of operating systems.
  • Programming in C
  • Familiarity with UNIX derivatives is recommended.

Course Readings and Presentations

A one page response to each paper is due in class or by email before the start of class. See the reading list page.

Students will present (most likely 2) papers from the reading list and lead the class discussion. You should cover the background material including the basic design, implementation, and evaluation of the system. A great presentation should lead directly to a discussion around the paper's design decisions, assumptions, and results. Students who present a third paper will have their lowest presentation grade dropped.

Mini Project

  • Goal: To characterize and experiment with a few hardware platforms.
  • Propose on piazza thread three devices that you will characterize.
  • Individual or group projects of 2 or 3 people are allowed.
  • Short project paper 2-3 pages.
  • Each group should present there results.
  • Each group will need to submit a project proposal for approval

Course Project

  • Open project: Propose your project on piazza thread
  • Individual or group projects of 2 or 3 people are allowed.
  • Project paper will be due the last day of class.
  • Each group should present and demo their project.
  • Each group will need to submit a project proposal for approval

Academic Integrity

Students are generally not permitted to submit the same work for credit in multiple classes, e.g., do not present the same paper in multiple seminars.

Students are expected to follow the university policies.

Students with Disabilities

The Office for Persons with Disabilities (OPD), located in Needles Hall, Room 1132, collaborates with all academic departments to arrange appropriate accommodations for students with disabilities without compromising the academic integrity of the curriculum. If you require academic accommodations to lessen the impact of your disability, please register with the OPD at the beginnieach academic term.


Week Tuesday Thursday
9/4—9/8 Intro
9/11—9/13 Multics the first Seven Years The Evolution of the Unix Time-sharing System
11/27—11/29 Presentations Presentations


See Piazza posts.