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, communication, memory management, reliabilit, file systems and storage, virtual machines, security, and manageability. 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.


There is no textbook for this course. Instead, we will read the original research papers covering the major advancement in operating system design. We will read several papers grouped around major topics, such as organization, memory management, and communication. While most of the papers focus on seminal ideas, a few focus on evaluation and measurement or future directions in research.

More information is available on the reading page.

Reading List


In this course, you will be completing two projects: a warm-up project and a main project. More information is available on the project page.


There will be two midterm exams, each one covering one half the semester and of equal grading weight. You should be familiar with the papers and be able answer the questions from the reading section about those papers.


  • 15% Reading and class participation
  • 20% First exam
  • 20% Second exam
  • 10% Warm-up Project
  • 35% Project

Each student has three late days to use over the course of the semester without penalty. Beyond that, 25% will be deducted from an assignment's grade for each calendar day it is late. Assignments are due at the start of class, unless otherwise noted. Late days are for you to use to manage unavoidable conflicts in your own schedule; excuses for late work beyond the three late days will not be accepted.


There are many sources of advice for systems researchers. Here are a few of my favorite.

Mailing List

The mailing list address is compsci736-1-s06 "at" lists.wisc.edu.