CS-736: Advanced Operating Systems

University of Wisconsin, Madison
Department of Computer Sciences
Fall 2000

Basic Information

When: Tuesday and Thursday, 1pm to 2:15pm
Where: 1257 Computer Science and Statistics Building ( timetable entry )
Who: Professor Remzi Arpaci-Dusseau (remzi@cs) and TA Jon Ledlie (ledlie@cs)
Office Hours: Thursday after class (2:15-3:15), and by appointment


01/04: Please check out the first annual SOS-Please symposium!

Old Notes

Short Cuts

Project List
Reading list , auxialliary reading , advice papers
Reading questions


Welcome to graduate operating systems! This course will cover an exciting range of materials from the broad field of operating systems, including basic operating system structure, file systems and storage servers, memory management techniques, process scheduling and resource management, threads, distributed systems, security and a few other "hot" topics. We will examine influential historical systems, important current efforts, extracting lessons both on how to build systems as well as how to evaluate them.

The course will center around two basic entities: readings and a final project. For most every class, you will have to read one or more papers (as assigned), which we will then discuss in class. You will also have to write a review of each paper. The real key to the class will be your final project: a mini-research project on the topic of your choice. Though we will provide some suggestions, you are strongly encouraged to come up with a topic of your own (after all, that's what research is all about). More details will be available below in the weeks to come.


We will meet Tuesday and Thursday in 1257 CS&S at 1pm til 2:15pm. However, because I may miss a few classes in the course of the semester, I will also need to schedule a make-up lecture time. More details are forthcoming.


09/05 First day of class - show up!
09/12 Hydra
09/19 Disco
09/26 FFS , LFS
10/03 RAID , Lottery
10/10 Scheduler Activations , Vax/VMS
10/17 Multics
10/24 No class
10/31 U-net
11/07 Cluster-based Services
11/14 AFS
11/21 Measurements of a Distributed FS
11/28 Coda
12/05 Data Security
12/12 TBA


09/07 Nucleus , The THE
09/14 Unix , Pilot
09/21 Exokernel I and II
09/28 Elephant
10/05 Resource Containers
10/12 Mach
10/19 Midterm Exam
10/26 RPC
11/02 Comparison of Amoeba and Sprite
11/09 NFS
11/16 NASD
11/23 No class - Thanksgiving!
11/30 Bayou
12/07 Data Encryption
12/14 TBA


The current Reading List is available here. Most of the readings are available on-line; those that are not will be handed out in class. Note that this is subject to change.

Some additional papers are available in the Auxiliary Reading List. You are not expected to read these unless you wish to learn more about a specific topic.

Finally, a collection of advice papers is (partly) available in the Advice Papers List. I highly recommend that you read these papers on your own; however, you will not be held responsible for them in any way. I will try to make all of these available electronically.

You will have three basic responsibilities for the readings covered in the course:
1 - Read the assigned papers before class. Without doing so, discussion is a little more difficult.
2 - Form a discussion group. You should have about four people in your group, and discuss each paper sometime before class meets. When you have formed a group, please send me email with a list of group members.
3 - Write-up each paper. Your individual write-up should consist of a short-essay answer to the question(s) posed. The write-up should not exceed half of a page in length. The list of questions to answer can be found here. Turn in your write up via email to myself and Jon (remzi@cs, ledlie@cs) before the class where we discuss the paper, with the class and date in the subject line (e.g., 736 Reading 9/12). Late write-ups will automatically receive a null score. Write-ups should be in plain text.

Readings will probably be heavy up front, so make sure not to fall behind. That way, you will have more time towards to end of the semester to focus on your project.


The project list is now available!

A project resources page is also available.

The final project is the main focus of the course. You are expected to perform work which could eventually be suitable for publication in a major operating systems conference. In general, people should work in groups of size one or two -- I will not allow groups larger than that. Though we will provide some suggestions for you to pick from, you are encouraged to think of a project on your own, which we can help to refine. Project write-ups will be similar in format to a conference submission, and all will be entered into a class-wide mini-conference. The best papers will be presented to the class. More details are forthcoming.

Important Dates
Important dates for your project will be listed here.
Project Proposal
Status Meeting
Write-up (Call For Papers)
Friday 10/06
Week of 11/06
12/08 and 12/11
Monday 12/18

Here are links to some previous class's projects: Remzi Arpaci-Dusseau's , Bart Miller's and Marvin Solomon's.


There will be two exams to test your knowledge. The exams will be closed book, and will cover the papers read to date, as well as topics discussed in class. They will be equally weighted (i.e., no "final"). The first exam is scheduled for 10/19. The second exam has not been scheduled, but will be no later than 12/15 (the last day of classes).

Last year's midterm is now available online here
This year's midterm solutions are available here


In addition to reading, exams, and your final project, there may be one or two assignments to get each of you a little more hands on experience with operating systems, experimental procedure, and professional duties such as paper reviewing. Stay tuned for details.

Assignment #0: Digital Picture
Assignment #1: Project Proposal
Assignment #2: Status Meeting
Assignment #3: Presentation
Assignment #4: Project Write-up (Call For Papers)


A rough outline of grading is: reading and other assignments (25%), exams (25%), and final project (50%). However, this rough breakdown is subject to change at the whim of the instructor.

Mailing List

The mailing list is cs736-1list@cs.wisc.edu. I will use it for general postings. A log of email is available at this url.

Useful Links

Here are some Random potentially useful links.

Complaints about this page, operating systems, or life in Madison, should be sent to Remzi Arpaci-Dusseau.