Course Descriptor

EE 360N - Computer Architecture
Unique Numbers 15875, 15880, 15882, and 15877

Instructor: Yale N. Patt (
Office: 541a Engineering Sciences Building (ENS)
Phone: 512-471-4085
Email Address:
Office Hours: MW, 7:00pm to 8:30pm, and by appointment
Course Title: Computer Architecture.
Course Overview: This course, in my view, represents a serious introduction at a senior undergraduate level into how computers work. I believe that computing involves architecture at many levels. We will focus on the instruction set architecture level (sometimes called the machine architecture) and the microarchitecture level (often called the implementation architecture or computer organization). We will review to some extent the level below the microarchitecture (the logic design level), relying mainly on the knowledge you already have obtained, and we will cover to some extent the level above the instruction set architecture (program translation) in order to demonstrate our understanding of some of the concepts. The intent of the course is to provide a comprehensive understanding of how the various levels play together, and remove a good part of the mystery pertaining to how the machine works.

A separate handout contains a lecture by lecture outline of the course, along with dates for all assignments, quizzes and the final exam.

What I expect: I expect to assign a substantial number of homework problems and in addition five programming assignments. I hope to cover most of the material one should expect in an introduction to computer organization, but I expect to not read to you from any textbook. You should consider my lectures and the corresponding treatments in various textbooks as different approaches to learning the same material. The problem sets are a way for you to check to see if you are getting it.

I will not take attendance, and attendance will not be considered in the grading. At this point in your education, I believe it is for you to decide how to allocate your time. You must decide whether I am providing enough that is useful in class to justify your coming to class.

I encourage you to study in groups, and to come to my office in groups. That usually will result in all of you understanding the material better. You are encouraged to ask questions, ...after you have thought about the material. You are encouraged to challenge assumptions. Computer Science and Engineering deals with "nature" that is man-made (person-made, actually, but that is awkward) and so we the people may have made it wrong. I tend to respond thoroughly (usually too thoroughly, I am often told) to questions, using the question as an opportunity to introduce new material. You, working with other members of your study group, can often unravel my response to the benefit of all members of the group much better than one person can, working alone.

If you are part of a study group, you will need to turn in only one copy of a solution to a *problem set* for the entire group. The front page should contain the names of all members of the study group who have contributed to the solution. Each student will receive the same grade for that problem set.

Although I encourage you to study together, examinations and programming assignments must be your own individual work.

Meeting Info: The course consists of three hours of lecture + a 1 1/2 hour discussion section each week. Lectures will generally take place MW, from 5:30pm to 7pm, in CPE 2.208, with an occasional lecture at some other time at the convenience of the class. The compile-time schedule of lectures and discussions can be found in the Course Syllabus, although it could change depending on how rapdily (or slowly) we cover various topics. When faced with answering a student question or remaining on schedule, I almost always opt for answering the question. Thus, the dynamic schedule of my lectures will probably not be known until run-time, since we are likely to adapt the schedule where it seems to make sense. Discussion sections will take place on Tuesdays, starting on August 31. Times and rooms will be announced in class on August 30, at the latest. Students are free to attend any discussion section they choose.
Teaching Assistants:
Aater Suleman:
Huzefa Sanjeliwala:
Dam Sunwoo:
Course Home Page:
Textbook: There is no required textbook for the course. I will make available as appropriate copies of notes I will use throughout the course.

In addition, three textbooks are identified below as containing useful information on the material covered in the course. If you find it useful, you may want to obtain a copy of one of them and share it with other members of your study group. In that way, each student can benefit from more than one author's interpretation of the material.

The three textbooks are:

Harvey G. Cragon, Computer Architecture and Implementation, Cambridge University Press, 2000, ISBN 0521651689, 0521657059

Carl Hamacher, Zvonko Vranesic, Safwat Zaky, Computer Organization, 5th Edition, McGraw Hill, 2001, ISBN 0072320869

Andrew Tanenbaum, Structured Computer Organization, 4th Edition, Prentice Hall, 1998, ISBN 0130959901

Prerequisites: The only formal prerequisite is EE 319K, with a grade of C or higher. It is also assumed that the student has facility in the programming language C, or is willing and able to pick up the small differences from C++ that will be needed to complete the five programming lab assignments.
Additional course resources: As noted above, class handouts will be supplied when necessary to supplement the concepts discussed in lecture. Other information will be downloadable from the course home page.
Homework policy: Problem sets will be assigned as specified in the syllabus. Additional problems may be assigned whenever the instructor feels it is appropriate, based on something that comes up in class. Usually, students will have between one and two weeks to complete them. Students will be encouraged to form study groups to work homework problems. Only one copy of a problem set per group should be turned in.
Cheating: We strongly encourage you to form a study group, and to work together on the problem sets and study together to prepare for each exam. However collaboration does not extend to the five programming lab assignments, or to the actual taking of the two mid-terms and final exam. The programs you write and the examinations you take MUST be your own work. Providing information to another student where prohibited, or obtaining information from another student where prohibited is considered cheating. This includes the exchange of any information during an examination and any code that is part of a solution to a programming assignment. Allowing another student to read something on your paper during an examination is considered cheating. In fact, leaving information unprotected so it can be compromised by another student is considered cheating. This includes sheets of paper lying about in your home, and computer files that are not properly protected. If you cheat, you violate the soul of the University, which we take very seriously, and will deal with in the harshest possible way. If you have any question as to what is permitted and what is not, ask the instructor or a TA FIRST. If you don't ask first, and you do something that is not allowed, the response "I thought it was okay" is not an acceptable justification. I am embarrassed to have to bother all of you with this paragraph, since for most of you, the contents of this paragraph is totally unnecessary. But, every semester there are some who feel it is okay to cheat. And, to attempt to deter them from cheating, I apologize for having to take up all this time of the rest of you.
Quiz and Exam policy: There will be two exams in class, the first on October 6, the second on November 10. There will be a final exam during the normal final exam period, on December 13. All exams will be closed book, with two exceptions:
(1) The student may bring into the exam three sheets of paper on which the student is free to write anything he/she wishes. All three sheets must be original sheets in the student's own handwriting.
(2) Each student may bring into the exam any handouts that have been expressly permitted by the instructor prior to the exam.
Final Exam: See above.
Grading mechanics: Nominally, grades are based on the following percentages:
Problem sets: 10%
Programming Lab Experiments: 25% (5% each, times 5 assignments)
Midterms: 17% each (two of them)
Final exam: 25%
My subjective evaluation of your work: 6%

Policy: Problem sets and programming assignments are due on the date and at the time specified.
Make-up exams will be given only in extraordinary situations. Excused absence from an exam must be obtained in advance except under very rare circumstances.

The MEC Common Evaluation form will be used to evaluate the instructor in this course.

Additional details

The deadline for dropping without possible academic penalty is October 20.

Allegations of Scholastic Dishonesty will be dealt with according to the procedures outlined in Appendix C, Chapter 11, of the General Information Bulletin,

The University of Texas at Austin provides, upon request, appropriate academic adjustments for qualified students with disabilities. For more information, contact the Office of the Dean of Students at 471-6259, 471-4241 TDD, or the College of Engineering Director of Students with Disabilities, 471-4321.

For those of you who decide to continue in this course, Good Luck. I hope you find the experience an important part of your computer engineering education. I also hope you have a good time doing it.