CS/COE 1550 Introduction to Operating Systems

Summer 2021


Contact Information




Office Hours

Sherif Khattab, 6307 SENSQ

(412) 624-8438


MW: 13:00-15:00

F: by appointment

Zoom link: https://pitt.zoom.us/my/khattab

Please reserve at: https://khattab.youcanbook.me/






Office Hours


Hanzhong Zheng

(Section 1010)


Pratik Musale

(Section 1025)


MW: 9:30-11:30

TH: 10:00-11:30

(Please find the Zoom links for office hours on Canvas under Syllabus)



1010: TuTh 12:30-14:15 @ 316 Information Sciences Bldg and Zoom

1025: TuTh 14:30-16:15 @ 2700 Wesley W Posvar Hall and Zoom

(Please find the Zoom link on Canvas)


18942 (1010): Friday 10:30-11:20 @ Zoom

18943 (1010): Friday 12:30-13:20 @ Zoom

20760 (1025): Friday 11:30-12:20 @ Zoom

21507 (1025): Friday 13:30-14:20 @ Zoom

(Please find the Zoom link on Canvas)

Student Feedback

Please send us your anonymous feedback

Top Hat Join Code



Course Description


The purpose of this course is to understand and use the basic concepts of operating systems, common to most computer systems, which interface the machine with the programmer. In particular, this class introduces concepts such as process management, concurrency, inter-process communication, memory management and protection, I/O systems, file systems, security, and virtual machines.

The goal of the course is to help demystify a good portion of the magic about how computers work.


The specific learning objectives of the course are:


1.     Modify and compile the Linux kernel to add system calls

2.     Write multi-process programs that are free from race conditions and deadlocks

3.     Simulate page-replacement algorithms that are used in virtual memory management

4.     Implement a user-land file system





CS 0447 and CS 0449 (It is important that you refresh your knowledge and skills on C, pointers, file and string operations, etc. and on debugging using GDB)



A. Silberschatz, P.B. Galvin, and G. Gagne, Operating System Concepts, 9th Edition, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2012.
ISBN: 1-11-806333-3 (Available at Bevier Engineering Library Reserve Desk QA76.76.O63 S5583)
8th Edition available online via Pitt Library.


Grading Policy


Projects (40%): four projects worth 10% each. Late submissions are allowed for up to two days with a 10% reduction per late day. We will use GitHub Classroom for managing the projects and labs of this course. This must be your own individual work. Do not look at the solution of anyone (or even part of it), and do not let anyone else look at yours (or even part of it). You should figure out the solutions by yourself --- do not ask anyone how to solve the problem, and do not seek the answer from some other source. Anyone caught cheating will be given a zero for the graded work or for the course and reported to the school following University procedures.


Midterm and Final exams (20%): 12% on higher and 8% on lower. Make-up exams can be scheduled well in advance. The exams are remote and non-cumulative.


Weekly homework assignments (18%): Twelve homework assignments worth 1.5% each. There will be a bonus homework at the end of the term.


Recitation (14%): 5 lab exercises using the XV6 operating system and four quizzes on projects. The lowest two items will be dropped.


Lecture Quizzes (8%): In-class questions using Tophat. The join code is 581182.

Important Dates (Tentative)


Midterm Exam


Final Exam



Project #

Out on

Due on @11:59pm


F 5/28

M 6/14


M 6/14

F 7/9


F 7/9

M 7/19


M 7/19

Sat 8/7


Weekly Schedule








Wk 1 (5/17)

System Calls

Chapters 1, 2

Wk 2 (5/24)

Process Synchronization

Chapters 3, 4

Summer 12-WEEK session add/drop period ends on May 18th

Project 1 out on 5/28

Wk 3 (5/31)


Chapter 5

Wk 4 (6/7)

Deadlock avoidance and prevention

CPU Scheduling

Chapter 7

Wk 5 (6/14)

Memory Management and Swapping

Chapter 6

Project 1 due on 6/14 @ 11:59pm

Project 2 out on 6/14

Wk 6 (6/21)

Virtual Memory

Chapter 8

Wk 7 (6/28)

Page replacement algorithms

Chapter 9

Midterm Exam: 7/1-7/3

Wk 8 (7/5)

I/O, DMA, Interrupts, Polling, Disks, RAID, Disk Arm Scheduling

Chapter 9

Project 2 due on 7/9 @ 11:59pm

Project 3 out on 7/9

Wk 9 (7/12)

Files and File Systems

File System Implementations, FAT, and i-nodes

Chapter 9

Wk 10 (7/19)

Security, Access Control Lists, Encryption, and Authentication

Project 3 due on 7/19 @ 11:59pm

Project 4 out on 7/19

Wk 11 (7/26)

Viruses, Worms, and Virtual Machines

Chapter 13

Wk 12 (8/2)

Viruses, Worms, and Virtual Machines

Chapter 13

Project 4 due on Saturday 8/7 @ 11:59pm

Final Exam: 8/5-8/7



Communication Policy


There are many ways to communicate with the teaching team. Please reach out to us as early as possible and as frequently as possible. You can reach us on:

·       Piazza

·       Canvas Messages

·       Email

Please expect a response within 72 hours.


COVID-19 Statement


I would like to emphasize that my number one concern is your safety and health, both physical and mental.  My goal is for each and every one of you to succeed in the course. I am here to support you and I will remain understanding and flexible given the challenges that we are all facing together. The lectures and recitations will be recorded, and the recorded sessions include your participation. The recorded sessions will be made available through Canvas and only to this term's class. Although I expect you to attend the live lectures and recitations, attendance is not taken. The Tophat questions that are offered during the live lectures will also be assigned as homework. 


Minimum Technology Requirements

Basic computer hardware that includes camera and microphone for the Zoom meetings. Basic software (e.g., Microsoft Suite, Canvas, Panopto, Top Hat, Zoom, Gradescope, Piazza, PuTTY, WinSCP or FileZilla, a text editor (e.g., Atom, Sublime, VS Code, Notepad++, Brackets, etc.).


Students with Disabilities


If you have a disability for which you are or may be requesting an accommodation, you are encouraged to contact both your instructor and Disability Resources and Services (DRS), 140 William Pitt Union, (412) 648-7890, drsrecep@pitt.edu, (412) 228-5347 for P3 ASL users, as early as possible in the term. DRS will verify your disability and determine reasonable accommodations for this course.


Academic Integrity


All assignment submissions must be the sole work of each individual student. Students may not read or copy another student's solutions or share their own solutions with other students. Students may not review solutions from students who have taken the course in previous years. Submissions that are substantively similar will be considered cheating by all students involved, and as such, students must be mindful not to post their code publicly. The use of books and online resources is allowed, but must be credited in submissions, and material may not be copied verbatim. Any use of electronics or other resources during an examination will be considered cheating. If you have any doubts about whether a particular action may be construed as cheating, ask the instructor for clarification before you do it. The instructor will make the final determination of what is considered cheating. Cheating in this course will result in a grade of F for the course and may be subject to further disciplinary action. Should a student be accused of a breach of academic integrity or have questions regarding faculty responsibilities, procedural safeguards including provisions of due process have been designed to protect student rights. These may be found in Guidelines on Academic Integrity: Academic Integrity Policy of the School of Computing and Information.

Pay attention to the following examples of cheating, which include:

§      Sharing code: either by copying, retyping, looking at, or supplying a copy of a file from this or a previous semester.

§      Describing code: Verbal description of code from one person to another.

§      Coaching: Helping your friend to write a lab, line by line.

§      Copying: Copying code from the Web or another student. You are only allowed to use code that we provide you.

§      Searching: Searching the Web for solutions or for any advice on the lab.

Cheating is also looking at other students’ code or allowing others to look at yours. This includes one person looking at code and describing it to another. Be sure to store your work in protected directories (e.g., under the private folder on your AFS space on the department servers), and log off when you leave a remote server, to prevent others from copying your work without your explicit assistance.

You may find it useful to know what is not cheating:

§      Clarifying ambiguities or vague points in class handouts, lectures, or textbooks.

§      Helping others use the computer systems, networks, compilers, debuggers, profilers, or other system facilities.

§      Helping others with high-level design issues only, but algorithm/coding and other such details are not ``high-level design issues''.

§      Helping others with high-level (not code-based) debugging.

§      Using code from the skeleton/package provided in class is always OK.

For a first offense, a student caught collaborating or cheating in any way will receive a zero for the exam, homework, lab, or project in question. In the event of a second offense, the student will receive an F for the course and may be subject to stronger action. All offenses (first and second) will be reported to the school following University procedures. Submissions that are alike in a substantive way (not due to coincidence) will be considered to be cheating by ALL involved parties. Please protect yourselves by only storing your files in private directories, and by retrieving all printouts promptly.

Religious Observances


In order to accommodate the observance of religious holidays, students should inform the instructor (by email, within the first two weeks of the term) of any such days which conflict with scheduled class activities.

Diversity and Inclusion Statement

I consider this classroom to be a place where you will be treated with respect, and I welcome individuals of all ages, backgrounds, beliefs, ethnicities, genders, gender identities, gender expressions, national origins, religious affiliations, sexual orientations, ability – and other visible and nonvisible differences. All members of this class are expected to contribute to a respectful, welcoming and inclusive environment for every other member of the class. (American Society for Engineering Education)


Copyright Statement

These materials may be protected by copyright. United States copyright law, 17 USC section 101, et seq., in addition to University policy and procedures, prohibit unauthorized duplication or retransmission of course materials. See Library of Congress Copyright Office and the University Copyright Policy.


Classroom Recording



To ensure the free and open discussion of ideas, students may not record classroom lectures, discussion and/or activities without the advance written permission of the instructor, and any such recording properly approved in advance can be used solely for the student’s own private use.