Computer Organization and Architecture

Instructor Textbook Course Work Assignments Schedule ( .dvi format / postscript )
Labs Deadlines Collaboration Grading

This course provides a solid introduction to both traditional and alternative computer architectures. Course material is organized into the following units:


Henry M. Walker

Office: Science 2420
Telephone: extension 4208
Office hours are posted weekly on the bulletin board outside my office.
Additional hours can be scheduled by appointment.
If you wish, you may reserve a half hour meeting by signing up on the weekly schedule.


Andrew S. Tanenbaum, Structured Computer Organization, Fourth Edition,. Prentice-Hall, 1999.

HP's manual, PA-RISC 1.1 Architecture and Instruction Set Reference Manual, Third Edition, which is available on-line in either html or postscript format.

The schedule

While the schedule for this course is expected to evolve, a Tentative Class Schedule is available in both .dvi and postscript formats.

Also, if you are logged into the departmental network and want a copy printed, click duerer to have a copy printed on the printer duerer, and click pacioli to have a copy printed on the printer pacioli .

Course Work

This course will involve laboratories, written assignments, programs, and tests.

  1. Laboratories: Formal laboratories are scheduled each Tuesday. Each laboratory will contain a variety of questions and problems; written responses are due the Friday following a lab. While not required, collaboration within a group is strongly encouraged for laboratory work.

  2. Written Assignments and Programs: Exercises will be assigned regularly throughout the course, and normally all work covering the material for a week is due on the following Monday. (Work for the last week, however, is due on Friday, December 10.) There will be a penalty for turning papers or programs in late. Papers over two weeks late and any work after Friday, December 10, will not be accepted.

  3. Tests: Following the Tentative Class Schedule, the class will include a take-home test and two one-hour tests. The take-home test will be given out on Friday, September 24 and due on Friday, October 1. The one-hour, in-class tests are scheduled for Friday, October 15 and Friday, November 19.

  4. Programs: Several programming problems will be assigned throughout the semester.

  5. Exam: Following the published exam schedule, an exam is scheduled for 9:00 am on Thursday, December 16, during exam week.

Late Penalty: Work is due at the start of class on the date specified in the assignment. A penalty of 33 1/3 % per class meeting will be assessed on any work turned in late, even work submitted at the end of a class. Thus, work turned in 4 days late will be weighted -33 1/3 %; since a negative score reduces a semester total, it is better not to turn the work in at all.
Exception: Deadlines for programming problems and laboratory exercises are automatically extended at least one class day if the HP network is down for an unscheduled period of 3 or more hours during the week preceding the assignment due date. (In such cases, however, deadlines for written assignments are not extended.)

Absolute Deadline: All homework must be turned in by Friday, December 10 at 5:00 pm.


The work in this course is split between individual and group work. Students are encouraged to work together on laboratory exercises. However, since this course seeks to develop individual understanding and mastery as well, collaboration is not allowed on programs or tests. The rules for collaboration on written assignments will be given for each assignment.


This instructor's grading philosophy dictates that the final grade should ultimately be based upon each student's demonstration of his or her understanding of the material, not on the performance of the class as a whole nor on a strict percentile basis.The following scheme is proposed as a base for how the various laboratories, assignments, programs, and tests will be counted in the final grade.

Laboratory Write-ups: 36% Take-Home Tests: 24%
Programs and Assignments: 25% Exam: 15%

This document is available on the World Wide Web as

created August 19, 1999
last revised August 26, 1999