This course introduces advanced operating system topics and introduces recent developments in systems research. The course involves reading and understanding classic and new research papers on operating systems. Topics include operating system structure, threads and synchronization, virtual memory management, file systems, security, bug finding and transactions.

We will cover undergraduate level background knowledge necessary to understand the research papers at a fast pace. However, course exams will only be from research papers. All exams will be open book and will contain questions that require you to apply the techniques in the research papers in a different context or to compare different techniques. The questions will require a deep understanding of the technique proposed in the paper and its limitations. Some assignments will require implementing a research idea while others will be more research oriented.
Office Hours:

Mon-Thu 12:30–1pm in 9-120A

Natasha Arshad, TA
Office Hours:

Mon/Wed 11am–12pm in CS Student Lounge

Course Information

Class meetings

Mon/Wed 9:30–10:45AM in SSE 10-404


Undergraduate level Operating Systems concepts; Comfortable with a programming language

Required text

Papers and articles listed in schedule.

Optional text

Silberschatz Operating System Concepts John Wiley & Sons Software, 2009 (for background knowledge)

Related Courseslums-cs570-sp13 lums-cs570-sp14 lums-cs570-sp15 


10%Attendance (-2 for each class missed. Arriving late and leaving early is equivalent to missing.)
30%Assignments (3 x 10%, tentative)
60%Examinations (4 x 15% Open book/notes, not commulative)


Academic dishonesty

You must not turn in work that is not yours. You must not enable someone else to turn in work that is not his or hers. Do not share your work with anyone else and adequately protect all your files. You must not allow someone to openly violate this policy because it diminishes your effort as well as that of your honest classmates.

Changing your exam answers after they have been graded, copying answers during exams, or plagiarizing the work of others will be considered academic dishonesty and will be subject to disciplinary penalties, including the possibility of failure in the course and/or dismissal from the University. Plagiarism detection software will be used on the programs submitted in this class.

Attendance & class decorum

Attendance is required and two marks will be deducted for every class missed. As per Computer Science Department policy, no one will be allowed in class after 5 minutes of scheduled start time. If you do not attend, do not expect me or any TA to repeat the material for you. Missing more than five classes will result in an F in the course.

Your behavior should not be disruptive during class and should not hinder in other students’ learning. In particular do not chat with your neighbors. Keep your cell phones turned off in class. You can use laptops to take notes but make sure they do not disturb anyone in your surroundings.

Late submissions & missed exams

All work must be turned in by electronic submission before the deadline (no e-mailed submissions). Do not submit at the last moment. If you submit your assignment late even by a second, it will not be considered.

Under exceptional situations (e.g. emergency medical), I may give extra days but under no circumstance, the extra days will be awarded after the deadline has already passed.

Petitions for missed mid-term and final examinations approved by the Office of Student Affairs will most likely receive an average score after a deduction according to their semester performance.

Tentative Schedule

1Mon 18 Jan

Introduction & Administrivia

2Wed 20 Jan

User mode and Kernel mode

3Mon 25 Jan

Processes and threads

4Wed 27 Jan

User threads vs Kernel threads

Anderson et. al. Scheduler activations: effective kernel support for the user-level management of parallelism in Proceedings of the thirteenth ACM symposium on Operating systems principles, 1991

5Mon 1 Feb


6Wed 3 Feb

Lock based Race Detection

Savage et. al. Eraser: a dynamic data race detector for multithreaded programs ACM Trans. Comput. Syst., 1997

7Mon 8 Feb

Hybrid Race Detection

Yu et. al. RaceTrack: Efficient Detection of Data Race Conditions via Adaptive Tracking in Proceedings of the Twentieth ACM Symposium on Operating Systems Principles, 2005

8Wed 10 Feb

Pattern based Race Detection

Erickson et. al. Effective Data-race Detection for the Kernel in Proceedings of the 9th USENIX Conference on Operating Systems Design and Implementation, 2010

9Mon 15 Feb

Exam 1

10Wed 17 Feb

Disks and File Systems

Last day to drop this course is Feb 19.

11Mon 22 Feb

File System Implementation

12Wed 24 Feb

Unix file system

McKusick et. al. A Fast File System for UNIX ACM Trans. Comput. Syst., 1984

13Mon 29 Feb

Log Structured File System

Rosenblum and Ousterhout The design and implementation of a log-structured file system ACM Trans. Comput. Syst., 1992

14Wed 2 Mar


Last day to withdraw from this course is Mar 4.

Quinlan and Dorward Venti: A New Approach to Archival Storage in Proceedings of the 1st USENIX Conference on File and Storage Technologies, 2002

15Mon 7 Mar

Asynchronous Operations

Nightingale et. al. Rethink the Sync in Proceedings of the 7th Symposium on Operating Systems Design and Implementation, 2006

16Wed 9 Mar

Exam 2

Mon 14 Mar

Mid-Semester Break

Wed 16 Mar

Mid-Semester Break

17Mon 21 Mar

Memory Management

Wed 23 Mar

Pakistan Day

18Mon 28 Mar

Paging and Virtual Memory

19Wed 30 Mar


Navarro et. al. Practical, transparent operating system support for superpages in Proceedings of the 5th symposium on Operating systems design and implementation, 2002

20Mon 4 Apr

Virtual memory uses

Appel and Li Virtual memory primitives for user programs in Proceedings of the fourth international conference on Architectural support for programming languages and operating systems, 1991

21Wed 6 Apr

Application level resource management

Engler et. al. Exokernel: an operating system architecture for application-level resource management in Proceedings of the fifteenth ACM symposium on Operating systems principles, 1995

22Mon 11 Apr

Exam 3

Wed 13 Apr

No class (Tentative)

23Mon 18 Apr

Virtualization I

Barham et. al. Xen and the art of virtualization in Proceedings of the nineteenth ACM symposium on Operating systems principles, 2003

24Wed 20 Apr

Virtualization II

Adams and Agesen A Comparison of Software and Hardware Techniques for x86 Virtualization in Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Architectural Support for Programming Languages and Operating Systems, 2006

25Mon 25 Apr

Distributed systems I

Ghemawat et. al. The Google file system in Proceedings of the nineteenth ACM symposium on Operating systems principles, 2003

26Wed 27 Apr

Distributed systems II

Li et. al. Making geo-replicated systems fast as possible, consistent when necessary in Proceedings of the 10th USENIX conference on Operating Systems Design and Implementation, 2012

27Mon 2 May

System Bugs

Engler et. al. Bugs As Deviant Behavior: A General Approach to Inferring Errors in Systems Code in Proceedings of the Eighteenth ACM Symposium on Operating Systems Principles, 2001

28Wed 4 May

Review & Future Directions

Sat 7 May

No class (Tentative)

29Tue 10 May

Exam 4, 3–6pm