15-213/18-213/14-513/15-513/18-613: Introduction to Computer Systems (ICS)

Spring 2021

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

Prerequisites: 15-122

What's New?

  • 2 February 2021.
    • There are some exciting changes to the course this semester. Check out this Quick Start Guide to learn more.
    • First day of class is February 2 (via Zoom).
    • All lectures will be via Zoom. Zoom links are posted on Canvas.
    • Recitations are in the form of small groups and begin Week 2
    • .
    • Lab 0 will be posted Feb 2 and is due Feb 11.

Getting Help

Piazza Piazza
Posts to Piazza are public by default. Think carefully about the AIV policy before posting code or design details. Make a private post, visible only to instructors and TAs, if in doubt.
Email Please use Piazza for help, instead of email.
Tutoring TBD
Office Hours We use an online queue. All times are in Eastern Time. Please specify a Zoom meeting ID or link when adding yourself to the queue.
Sun 6:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Mon 6:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Tue 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
6:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Wed 6:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Thur 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
6:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Fri 6:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Office hours for the professors are given below.

Course Materials

Schedule Lecture schedule, slides, recitation notes, readings, and code
Labs Details of the labs, due dates, and policies
Assignments Details of the written assignments, due dates, and policies
Exam Information about the final exam
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 See above
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
Credit 12 units
Grading Composed from total lab performance (50%), total written assignment performance (20%), midterm exam performance (10%), small group performance (5%), and final exam performance (15%).
Labs There are 8 labs (L0-L7), not evenly weighted. See the labs page for the breakdown.
Exam There is a final exam, held during exam week, closed book.
Home http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~213
Questions Piazza, office hours
Canvas Canvas will be used (i) to handin written assignments, (ii) to post lecture videos, and (iii) to conduct ungraded, in-class quizzes. Your grading information will be kept up to date in Autolab, not in Canvas.
Course Directory /afs/cs/academic/class/15213-s21/


Name Brian Railing Greg Kesden Zack Weinberg
Contact bpr@cs.cmu.edu gkesden@andrew.cmu.edu zweinber@andrew.cmu.edu
Office GHC 6005 (PIT) HH D202 (PIT) CMU RMTE (PIT)
Office Hours TBD https://www.cs.cmu.edu/~gkesden/schedule.html Wed Fri 3-4 PM or email for appointment