Summer 2015 students: Click here for the Summer 2015 page.

15-213/18-213/15-513: Intro to Computer Systems (ICS)

Fall 2015

15-213/18-213: Lecture TR, 1:30-2:50, DH 2210
12 units

15-513: Videotaped lectures and recitations
6 or 12 units

The ICS course provides a programmer's view of how computer systems execute programs, store information, and communicate. It enables students to become more effective programmers, especially in dealing with issues of performance, portability and robustness. It also serves as a foundation for courses on compilers, networks, operating systems, and computer architecture, where a deeper understanding of systems-level issues is required. Topics covered include: machine-level code and its generation by optimizing compilers, performance evaluation and optimization, computer arithmetic, memory organization and management, networking technology and protocols, and supporting concurrent computation.

Course Syllabus (includes important rules on cheating, late assignments, regrade requests, etc.)

Prerequisite: 15-122

What's New?

  • Thu, Aug 27: Welcome to the Fall 2015 instance of 15-213/18-213/15-513: Introduction to Computer Systems. We're really looking forward to the course and will do our best to help you learn lots of interesting and useful new ideas about computer systems. Couple of announcements:
    • No recitation Mon 8/31 or Mon 9/7 (labor day). First lecture is Tue 9/1.
    • Course web page is We don't use blackboard or piazza.
    • We'll be using Autolab for all assignments: If you were enrolled as of yesterday, you already have an account. If not we'll be updating the Autolab roster before the first assignment goes out.
    • We're really excited to be using, for the first time, the new Third Edition of Bryant and O'Hallaron, Computer Systems: A Programmer's Perspective, 2016.
    • In order to accommodate the enormous demand from MS students for 213 and to make sure that everyone gets enrolled, here's how we're organizing the course:
      • The undergraduate students in 15-213 and 18-213 will attend lectures and recitations in person as usual.
      • For the graduate students in 15-513, we will videotape the lectures and one recitation section and post the videos afterward on this page, which you can then watch anytime.
      • For help, all students will have equal access to the TA office hours and staff mailing list.
      • All students will do the same assignments and exams.
      Welcome again!

    • Tue, Aug 11: Please don't contact the instructors with waitlist questions. The following two people can help you with all of your wait list questions:
      • 15-213 and 15-513: Catherine Fichtner (
      • 18-213: Zara Collier (

    Getting Help

    TA Office Hours TBD

    Course Materials

    Schedule Lecture schedule, slides, recitation notes, readings, and code
    Assignments Details of assignments, due dates, and policies
    Exams Information about quizzes, exams, and final
    Lab Machines Instructions for using the lab machines
    Resources Additional course resources

    Course Information

    For details See the course syllabus for details (below is just a few overview bits).
    Lectures TR 1:30-2:50 DH 2210
    Recitations [Office hours] Section A: Mon 10:30-11:20, GHC 5222, tbd [tbd]
    Section B: Mon 10:30-11:20, PH 226B, tbd [tbd]
    Section C: Mon 11:30-12:20, WeH 5310, tbd [tbd]
    Section D: Mon 11:30-12:20, GHC 5222, tbd [tbd]
    Section E: Mon 12:30-1:20, WeH 5310, tbd [tbd]
    Section F: Mon 12:30-1:20, DH 2105, tbd [tbd]
    Section G: Mon 1:30-2:20, DH 2105, tbd [tbd]
    Section H: Mon 1:30-2:20, WeH 5310, tbd [tbd]
    Section I: Mon 2:30-3:20, WEH 5310, tbd [tbd]
    Section J: Mon 2:30-3:20, PH 226B, tbd [tbd]
    Section K: Mon 3:30-4:20, PH 226B, tbd [tbd]
    Textbooks Randal E. Bryant and David R. O'Hallaron,
    Computer Systems: A Programmer's Perspective, Third Edition, Pearson, 2016
      Brian W. Kernighan and Dennis M. Ritchie,
    The C Programming Language, Second Edition, Prentice Hall, 1988
    Grading Composed from total lab performance (50%) and total exam performance (50%).
    Labs There are 7 labs, not evenly weighted. See the assignments page for the breakdown.
    Exams There is one midterm exam, online, proctored, closed book (20%).
    There is a final exam, online, proctored, closed book (30%).
    Questions Email to Visit office hours (see above)
    Blackboard We are not using Blackboard for this course.
    Piazza We are not using Piazza for this course.
    Course Directory /afs/cs/academic/class/15213-f15/


    Name Randy Bryant Dave O'Hallaron
    Contact, x8-8821, x8-8199
    Office GHC 9125 GHC 7517
    Office Hours TBD (or by appt) Tue 3:00-4:00 (or by appt)

    Course Assistant

    Name Angie Miller
    Contact, 412-268-6645
    Office GHC 7123