CS-736: Advanced Operating Systems

University of Wisconsin, Madison
Department of Computer Sciences
Spring 2008

Basic Information

When: MWF 2:30pm to 3:45pm
Where: 1263 Computer Sciences ( timetable entry )
Who: Professor Remzi Arpaci-Dusseau
Office Hours: By appointment (just send email or you could chance stopping by)


5/22: Tech Sessions
5/12: Call For Papers
5/11: Presentation Schedule
5/9: Here is some info about Project Presentations.
Old Notes

Short Cuts

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 and peer-to-peer systems, security and a few other "hot" topics. We will examine influential historical systems and important current efforts, extracting lessons both on how to build systems as well as how to evaluate them.

The course will center around three basic entities: readings, assignments, 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 think and write a little bit about each paper. During the first half of the semester, you will also have to perform a few mini-assignments, just to get warmed up for the project. Then, finally, you will work on your projects, which is the real key to the class: a mini-research project on the topic of your choice. Though we will provide some suggestions, you are encouraged to come up with a topic of your own (after all, that is what research is all about). More details will be available below in the weeks to come.

01/21 Holiday: No class 01/23 First class: Show up 01/25 THE (including appendix) and Nucleus
01/28 No class 01/30 Pilot and Observations 02/01 Exo1 and Exo2
02/04 No class 02/06 Disco 02/08 Nooks
02/11 No Class 02/13 FFS 02/15 No Class
02/18 LFS 02/20 IRON 02/22 Anticipatory
02/25 RAID 02/27 No class: FAST 02/29 No class: FAST
03/03 Monitors and Mesa 03/05 Lottery 03/07 Scheduler Activations
03/10 Flash 03/12 Exam Review (Exam at 7:15pm) 03/14 No class!
03/17 Spring 03/19 Break 03/21 Relax
03/24 No Class 03/26 Vax/VMS 03/28 No Class (Visit Day)
03/31 Multics 04/02 Vmware 04/04 RPC
04/07 No Class 04/09 NFS 04/11 AFS
04/14 No Class 04/16 GFS 04/18 No Class
04/21 PAST 04/23 No Class 04/25 Visitor: Andy Wang
04/28 No Class 04/30 Rethink the Sync 05/02 Bugs Rx
05/05 Review (Exam at night) 05/07 How to... 05/09 Last class


The reading list is determined by the schedule (above). Those papers generally
can be found on the following pages:
You will have three basic responsibilities for the readings covered in the course:
1 - Read the assigned papers (as in the schedule) before class. This is a must!

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 - Answer the question posed for 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 is available here. Turn in your write up via email to me (remzi@cs) before 10am on the day of 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 and not some fancy encoding, for the professor's viewing pleasure. Write-ups not in plain text will be returned to the sender ungraded (but unharmed).

The reading load will be heavy, so make sure not to fall behind.


The project list is not yet 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; indeed, each year one or two projects end up becoming published works in some major OS conference! In general, people should work in groups of size one or two -- I will not allow groups larger than that. I will provide some suggestions for you to pick from, although you are encouraged to think of a project on your own, which I can then 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 receive some kind of recognition. More details are forthcoming.

Here are links to some previous class projects: Spring 2000 :: Fall 2000 :: Fall 2002 :: Fall 2003 :: Spring 2005


There will be a midterm and a final to test if you've really been paying attention. The exams will be closed book, and will cover the papers read to date, as well as topics discussed in class.

Midterm Exam: Wednesday, 03/12 at 7:15pm in 1263 CS.
Final Exam: Monday, 05/05 at 7:15pm in 1325 CS.


In addition to reading, exams, and your final project, there may be a few assignments. Stay tuned for details.
Assignment #0: Digital Picture
Assignment #1: Reading Group
Assignment #2: Project Proposal Meeting (by Tuesday, April 1)


A rough outline of grading is: reading and other assignments (1/3), exams (1/3), and final project (1/3). However, this rough breakdown is subject to change at the whim of the professor.

Mailing List

There will be a mailing list. Read your mail at least once a day, it may actually contain something important (probably not from me, though).

Complaints about file systems, youtube, flickr, and del.icio.us to Remzi Arpaci-Dusseau.