Computer Sciences Department
CS 736
Fall 2021
Barton Miller
CS 736: Advanced Operating Systems

New Stuff


This course is intended to give you a broad exposure to advanced operating systems topics. We will be reading about and discussing such topics as protection, security, memory management, operating system kernels, file systems, synchronization, naming, and distributed systems. Please read the rest of this information sheet carefully.


Class time: Monday/Wednesday/Friday, 8:00am-9:15am
Place: Online, Zoom

Office hours: Wednesday 9:15am - 10:00am, Friday 9:30am - 10:30am (starting Sept 22).
Extra office hour: Monday, Sept 20, 9:30am - 11am.

Note that ofice hours will follow lecture and use the same Zoom session as lecture.

You are welcome to make an appointment for other times or drop by anytime my door is open (which is most of the time that I am in my office).


There is really no satisfactory textbook for a graduate level operating systems class, so we will use the current and historic literature as our text. The course will be structured around readings from journal articles and conference proceedings.

The readings for this semester are all available from the class Web page. Each item in the list includes a link to a PDF for the paper.

During each class, we will discuss topics relevant to the current papers. The lecture will not be a detail-by-detail review of the papers, but will instead be a discussion of major topics and themes using the papers a focal point. You will form reading groups with 2 or 3 of your classmates that will meet before each class to discuss the details of the assigned papers. The readings are an especially important part of the class. We will go through the reading list according the posted reading schedule.

So, the formula for being successful in this class is (1) read the papers independently, (2) discuss them in your reading group, trying to identify the important issues, and (3) participate in the class discussion of the papers.

Classes and Discussions

Class meetings will be in the form of discussion lectures. We will talk about the day's topics, and this discussion will be supported by your comments and opinions. If you are willing to participate actively and daily in class, you will get a lot out of it. If you expect to sit quietly and listen for 15 weeks, you will be very unhappy in this class (and it will be reflected in your grade).

We will start each paper discussion with one member of the class presenting a 10 minute summary of the paper. This summary will include (1) the background of the paper, (2) summary of the problem that they were trying to solve, (3) the major techniques and innovations introduced in the paper, (4) the major results, and (5) your evaluation of the paper.

You are expected to attend every class session, as your grade includes your participation. Make sure that you talk to me before any planned absence from class.

Note that this class is scheduled for three 75-minute lectures per week (instead of the expected two per week). We will meet, on the average, of twice per week. The initial weeks will have class three times per week to allow more time for project work at the end of the semester. Please watch this schedule carefully to make sure that you know the schedule for the coming week.


During this class, you will write two papers - one short (6 pages) and one longer. The first paper is a study of system measurements and benchmarking - a most subtle subject! This paper will count for 15% of your grade. The second paper involves a project, and the paper will be a summary of that project. There will be a selection of project topics from which to choose. The project, including proposal, mid-way interview, final project paper, and poster presentation, will count for about 80% of your grade.

Writing well will be as important as writing about good ideas. Each paper will be reviewed at least twice. The first reading will be a refereeing of the paper by one of your fellow students. This will give the writer critical comments by another person, and give the reader a look at someone else's writing. The paper will then be revised for a second pass that will be read by me.

You will also prepare a poster to present online to your classmates. I have provided a bunch of sample posters from my research group for you to use as a guide.


All prose and code that you write for class assignments must be your own original work. If you use prose or code from any other source, you must clearly identify it and must accurately and completely cite that source.

Failure to cite the use of someone else's work is plagiarism, which is a serious violation of university statutes. For a graduate student, such a violation could easily result in your removal from the university.

If you have any questions about what might or might not be appropriate, please come talk with me right away.


There will be no exams. The papers and readings seem to be a more appropriate approach for grading this class.

Grading and Scores

Your class grade will be based on the following activities:

Activity Percentage
Benchmarking Paper 15%
Project Proposal 5%
Midway Interview 2%
Project Poster 13%
Referee Report 5%
Project Report 50%
Class Participation 10%
Total 100%

Paper and project scores will appear here as the semester progresses:

A summary of the scores from benchmarking paper assignment is available.

Community Standards

Our class is a safe, supportive and accepting environment. The instructors and students are expected to demonstrate respect for others in class regardless of age, race, gender, religion, nationality or abilities.

Learning Outcomes

Disability Accomodations

The University of Wisconsin-Madison supports the right of all enrolled students to a full and equal educational opportunity. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Wisconsin State Statute (36.12), and UW-Madison policy (Faculty Document 1071) require that students with disabilities be reasonably accommodated in instruction and campus life. Reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities is a shared faculty and student responsibility. Students are expected to inform me of their need for instructional accommodations by the end of the third week of the semester, or as soon as possible after a disability has been incurred or recognized. I will work either directly with the you or in coordination with the McBurney Center to identify and provide reasonable instructional accommodations. Disability information, including instructional accommodations as part of a student's educational record, is confidential and protected under FERPA.

In addition to completing an electronic Faculty Notification Letter request through McBurney Connect, it is important for students to contact the me directly by the end of the third week of the semester to set up a meeting to discuss implementation of any necessary accommodations. This early communication helps ensure that accommodations can be implemented in a timely manner. For example, if an alternative exam room is needed, arrangements must be made well in advance of an exam date to ensure room availability and to secure a room booking.

Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional

Last modified: Wed 15 Dec 2021 03:11:25 AM CST by bart