Schedule (click lecture names for slides)

8/27 Introduction
8/29 Binary, Hexadecimal, and Arbitrariness
9/5 MIPS: Programs, Instructions, and Registers
9/10 MIPS: Memory and Addresses
9/12 MIPS: Arrays, Control flow, and Loops
9/17 MIPS: Conditionals and Functions
9/19 MIPS: More Functions and the Stack
9/24 MIPS: Pseudo-ops, Debugging, etc.
9/26 Arithmetic: Bitwise operations and Bitfields
10/1 Arithmetic: Addition, Signed Numbers, and Overflow
10/3 Arithmetic: Multiplication and Division
10/8 Arithmetic: More Division and Floats
10/16 Exam 1
10/17 Logic: Gates and Wires
10/22 Logic: Arithmetic and Decisions
10/24 Logic: Minimization
10/29 Logic: Sequential Logic, Registers, and Clocking
10/31 Logic: FSMs, Multiplication, and Division
11/5 CPU: Intro
11/7 CPU: The Register File and ALU
11/12 CPU: Controlling the PC
11/14 CPU: Interconnect, Control, and Decoding
11/19 CPU: Performance
11/26 CPU: Multicycle and Microcode
11/28 CPU: Pipelining and Superscalar CPUs
12/3 Exam review
12/5 Exam 2
12/9 proj3 due by 11:59pm

Course Info

Instructor and office Hours

Teaching Assistants


Mon/Wed 9:30 - 10:45, 227 Benedum Hall

Attendance is not required, but it’s probably a good idea to come.


Recitation attendance is not required, but you are welcome to work on the labs and ask questions.


Computer Organization and Design (Patterson and Hennessy), 5th edition? It’s a good book if you grasp this material easily, but if you’re struggling, it can go into a lot of unnecessary/confusing detail.

5th edition isn’t strictly required, as the material for this course hasn’t really changed much since the 3rd or 4th editions.

Also I don’t really care for the “PCs are over” narrative that the 5th edition has. They kinda butchered some of the later chapters because of it.


Project (highest): 20%
Project (middle): 20%
Project (lowest): 10%
Exam (higher): 24%
Exam (lower): 16%
Labs: 10%

Project and exam grades are weighted according to your grade, to lessen the impact of a really bad grade.

Labs are graded on completion.

The grading scale is as follows:

97%+ A+
93-96% A
90-92% A-
87-89% B+
83-86% B
80-82% B-
77-79% C+
73-76% C (minimum grade needed to count)
70-72% C-
67-69% D+
63-66% D
60-62% D-
<60% F

Late Policy

Projects and labs are due for full credit at 11:59PM on the due date. I’m not super strict about it - 15-20 minutes late is no big deal.

They can be turned in late by 11:59PM on the next day. There is a 15% penalty for late submission, taken off after all other grade calculations (e.g. extra credit).

If you have a major problem that means you can’t turn in a project on time, contact me and explain what’s up; I’m pretty accommodating.

Otherwise, you have several weeks to do the projects, and you are welcome to ask questions about things we haven’t covered in class yet. “I didn’t start the project until the day it was due” is not a valid reason to request an extension.


There is a discussion board on the Courseweb page. Please use this for discussion of projects, labs, exam studying etc.

There is also an online chatroom through Discord. Again, email me if you haven’t signed up for it or didn’t get a link. This is more “off-topic” but this is also how I can hold “virtual office hours.”

Please don’t direct message me as your first option when you have questions. I would love to be able to help everyone individually, but there are so many of you, and I have a lot of work to do. Try to ask questions on the Courseweb discussion board first (or maybe it’s already been answered there!).

Religious Observances

If a religious observance will prevent you from attending recitation/exams/being around to submit projects, please contact me as early as possible in the term about them so we can make accommodations.

Academic Integrity

For the projects, you may work with one other person. Both of you must turn in your own, separate projects (no sharing code/circuits), and both of you must notify me in advance of who your partner is, and list your partner when submitting the project.

How far can “working together” go? You can talk about the project. You can talk about how you approached something. But you can’t tell your partner exactly how you did something. You can’t look at each other’s code/circuits. No sending/screenshotting that stuff either.

If you’re not sure whether or not something is allowed, it probably isn’t. Or ask me.

You may not use online resources, such as StackOverflow or projects from previous offerings of this course, to complete your work. If we believe that you have cheated on your assignment, all involved parties will receive a 0 for the assignment. If this is the second offense, you will fail the course.


If you have a disability for which you are or may be requesting an accommodation, you are encouraged to contact both your instructor and the Office of Disability Resources and Services (216 William Pitt Union; 412-648-7890; TTY:412-383-7355) as early as possible in the term. DRS will verify your disability and determine reasonable accommodations for this course.


You are expected to behave respectfully to your fellow students, the instructor, and the teaching assistants.

Jokes or comments about sex, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, etc. will not be tolerated. This is not Reddit or 4Chan. Behave as if you were a professional: keep the discussion about the subject at hand and try not to bring personal issues into it.

These rules apply not only to lecture, but also recitations, office hours, online chats, emails, etc.