Course Descriptor

EE 360N - Computer Architecture
Unique Numbers 16090, 16095, 16100, and 16105

Instructor: Yale N. Patt (
Office: 541a Engineering Sciences Building (ENS)
Phone: 512-471-4085
Email Address:
Office Hours: MW, 6:30pm to 8:00pm, 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 six 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.

In the spirit of learning from each other, I have decided this semester (for the first time) to invite you to work together with one other person on the first two programming labs. If you choose that option, only one copy of the program solution should be turned in, but both of your names should be clearly stated on your submission. You will both receive the same grade on those two programming labs.

Although I encourage you to study together, examinations and your work on programming lab assignments 3,4,5, and 6 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 5pm to 6:30pm, in ENS 127 CPE 2.208. 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.

There will be four discussion sessions each week, as follows:
         16090     Tu 3:30pm - 5:00pm ETC 2.102
         16095     Th 3:30pm - 5:00pm WEL 3.402
         16100     Tu 5:00pm - 6:30pm ENS 109
         16105     Th 5:00pm - 6:30pm ENS 109
Students are free to attend any discussion section they choose. Also, students are free to switch discussion sections as often as they wish during the semester.

Teaching Assistants: Aater Suleman (, Linda Bigelow (, Jose Joao (, and Veynu Narasiman (
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. Some students have successfully completed this course without ever looking at a textbook. Others have found it useful to purchase several textbooks. You should use your own best judgment on this.

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 digital logic design and the programming language C. If you are not conversant in C, it is assumed that you are willing and able to pick up what you need to know to be able to complete the six 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 a problem set. 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 to study together to prepare for each exam. We also want you to work with your (one) partner on the first two programming labs. However collaboration does not extend to the programming lab assignments 3,4,5, and 6, or to the actual taking of the two mid-terms and final exam. These programs and the in-class 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 an examination room or 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 we 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 are totally unnecessary. But, every semester there are some who feel it is okay to cheat, and I have to turn them in to the Student Judicial System. In an attempt to deter these few 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 19, the second on November 16. There will be a final exam during the normal final exam period, on December 16. 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: 30% (5% each, times 6 assignments)
Midterms: 15% each (two of them)
Final exam: 23%
My subjective evaluation of your work: 7%

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 26.

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.