Operating Systems and Parallel Algorithms

Instructor Textbook Assignments Schedule (.dvi format) Schedule (postcript format) Schedule (pdf format)
Labs Course Work Deadlines Collaboration Grading

This course provides a solid introduction to operating systems, together with an extended discussion of some fundamental parallel algorithms. More specifically, the course includes the following topics:


Henry M. Walker

Office: Science 2420
Telephone: extension 4208
E-mail: walker@cs.grinnell.edu
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.


Gary Nutt Operating Systems: A Modern Perspective, Second Edition, Addison-Wesley, 2000, ISBN: 0-201-61251-8.

In addition, a reference book on the C programming language may be of interest. While many such books exist, students might want to consider one or both of the following standard references:

Samuel P. Harbison and Guy L. Steele, C: A Reference Manual, Fourth Edition, Prentice Hall, ISBN: 0-13-326224-3, 1994.

Brian W. Kernighan and Dennis M. Ritchie, The C Programming Language: ANSI C Version, Second Edition, Prentice Hall, ISBN: 0-13-110362-8, 1988.

The schedule

While the schedule for this course is expected to evolve, a Tentative Class Schedule is available on-line in .dvi , postscript , and pdf 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 8.) There will be a penalty for turning papers or programs in late. Papers over two weeks late and any work after Friday, December 8, will not be accepted.

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

  4. Hour Tests: Following the Tentative Class Schedule (.dvi format / postscript / .pdf format ) hour tests are scheduled for Friday, September 22 and for Tuesday, November 17.

  5. Exam: Following the published exam schedule, an exam is scheduled for 9:00 am on Tuesday, December 12, 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 MathLAN 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 8 at 5:00 pm.


The work in this course is split between individual and group work. Thus, as a general rule, students are encouraged to work together on laboratory exercises. However, since this course seeks to develop individual understanding and mastery as well, collaboration normally is not allowed on written assignments, programs, or tests. To avoid possible confusion, the rules for each assignment are clearly indicated on the course's assignment sheet.


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, oral presentations, and tests will be counted in the final grade.

Laboratory Write-ups: 30% Hour Tests: 20%
Programs and Assignments: 30% Exam: 20%

This document is available on the World Wide Web as


created July 20, 1998
last revised August 17, 2000