CSCI-UA.0202(-002): Operating Systems (Undergrad)

Latest Announcements

8/29: Web page published
09/15: Lab 2 published
10/12: Lab 4 published, Sample exams published
10/23: Change in schedule around Thanksgiving
10/30: Change in schedule for this week
10/30: Publish midterm solution
11/10: Lab 5 published
11/17: Lab 5 due date moved
12/11: Past finals posted

See all announcements

Course information

  • Section: CSCI-UA.0202-003
  • Lectures: TueThu 11:00 AM – 12:15 PM, Cantor 102.
    • Lectures are streamed live via Zoom and recorded, with links available in NYU Brightspace.
  • Review sections (optional): description and logistics
  • Communication: To be updated.
    • Please use Campuswire posts (not DMs) for questions about assignments. If you include code, please mark your question private (per the collaboration policy). Please expect response latency of 12 to 24 hours.
    • For administrative and sensitive questions, please email
    • Please email individual course staff only for things like setting up meetings with that person; individual emails about labs or course administration may be dropped.
  • Instructor: Aurojit Panda
  • Teaching Assistants: (see also points of contact)
    Name Email (add
    Zhanghan Wang (head TA)
    Sam Frank sff5097
    Mengxi Liu ml7091
    Leanne Lu ll4725
    Brayton Lordianto bl3321
    Jeff Ma jm9527
  • Office hours (all rooms in 60 Fifth Ave):
    Name When Where
    Zhanghan Wang Fri 2 — 4pm 402
    Sam Frank Wed 4 — 6pm 402
    Mengxi Liu Tue 2 — 4pm 402
    Leanne Lu Thu 2 — 4pm 350
    Brayton Lordianto Tue 9:30 — 10:30am 402
    Thu 9:30 — 10:30am 402
    Jeff Ma Mon 12 — 2pm 402
    Aurojit Panda Wed 3 — 5pm 405

The work

  • The lectures will cover topics in operating systems and the topic of systems generally. The schedule is here.
  • The labs are a crucial component of this course and are described here. You will implement, help implement, or interact with, a number of the abstractions described below.
  • The exams are described here.
  • The readings are listed on the schedule and should be completed before class. The required and optional texts are listed below.
  • The homeworks (as distinct from the labs) are intended to reinforce the course material.

We assume that you check the announcements on this site every 24 hours. Also, we will use Campuswire (join the class at that link). Finally, we will occasionally email you (for the most urgent communications). You are responsible for monitoring all three of these media.

A note about the labs

We recommend that you start the labs long before they are due. The standard advice is "Start the labs early", but that is not quite right. The best advice, we think, is "Start the labs on time, but on time is probably much earlier than you think it is".

Description and goals

We hope you learn three sets of interrelated things. The first thing is how computers work. Students graduating with CS degrees should believe "there is no magic": they should be able to describe the chain of events that occurs when they hit a key and cause a letter to appear on the screen from the register level (or logical gate level or transistor level) to the system architecture level to the operating system level to the application level. This is philosophically important, but it is also of practical interest to developers who need to figure out how to make a system do what they want it to do.

The second goal is for you to learn the core ideas in operating systems: concurrent programming, memory protection, virtual addressing, file systems, scheduling, transactions, etc. Often, such ideas are best explained as abstractions that some software layer (usually the operating system) provides above imperfect hardware to make that hardware usable by programmers and users. The intent is for you to understand such abstractions well enough to be able to synthesize new abstractions when faced with new problems.

Many of the ideas and abstractions that we will cover are relevant not only to operating systems but also to large-scale systems. Thus, a third goal of this course is to enhance your ability to understand, design, and implement large-scale systems.

The coding workload in this class will be substantial. This is a necessity: understanding many of the ideas above requires implementing them or working through them in code. The good news is that if things go according to plan, you will learn a lot in this class, and ideally find it rewarding. For example, you will learn how operating systems are implemented, and how to effectively use the abstractions exported by operating systems.


Required texts

OSTEP Operating Systems: Three Easy Pieces, by Remzi H. Arpaci-Dusseau and Andrea C. Arpaci-Dusseau. Arpaci-Dusseau Books, August 2018, edition 1.00.
Note: This book is freely available online, at the link given.
OSM:SCI Operating Systems and Middleware: Supporting Controlled Interaction, by Max Hailperin. June 2019, Revised Edition 1.3.1.
Note: As with the preceding text, this text is online and free. It is available under this Creative Commons license.
CS:APP3e Computer Systems: A Programmer's Perspective, Third Edition, Randal E. Bryant and David R. O'Hallaron. (Pearson), 2015. ISBN: 013409266X.
Note: The prerequisite to this class (CS201) required this text, so we assume that you already have it.

Optional texts

  • Highly recommended: The C programming language (second edition), Brian W. Kernighan and Dennis M. Ritchie. (Prentice Hall, Inc., 1988. ISBN: 0-13-110362-8.) This book is a classic reference to C.
  • Optional: Operating Systems: Principles and Practice, Beta Edition, Anderson and Dahlin. (Recursive Books, 2012. ISBN: 0985673516.)
  • Optional: Modern Operating Systems (third edition), Andrew S. Tanenbaum. (Prentice Hall, Inc., 2008. ISBN: 0-13-600663-9.) Note: the NYU bookstores list this text as required; it is not (it was in an earlier version of this class.)
  • Optional: Principles of Computer System Design: An Introduction, Jerome Saltzer and M. Frans Kaashoek (Morgan Kaufmann, 2009. ISBN: 0-12-374957-3.)
  • Optional: Operating System Concepts (eighth edition), Abraham Silberschatz, Peter Baer Galvin, and Greg Gagne. (John Wiley & Sons, 2008. ISBN: 0-47-012872-0.)


Nearly all of this course's contents are borrowed from the version taught by Mike Walfish in Spring 2023 and earlier. The material for that course was inspired from several courses, and we are indebted to the staffs of these at MIT, UCLA, Harvard, Stanford, and UT Austin (cs372h, cs372, and cs439 a, b, c), and the ancestors of these courses. Credits are particularly due to Mike Dahlin (UT Austin), Eddie Kohler (Harvard), David Mazières (Stanford, formerly NYU), and Allison Norman (UT Austin). Design is borrowed from Harvard's CS61. This site relies on software to generate course Web pages, developed by Dave Andersen and Nick Feamster.