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Unit of study_

COMP9017: Systems Programming

In this unit of study, elementary methods for developing robust, efficient, and re-usable software will be covered. The unit is taught in C, in a Unix environment. Specific coding topics include memory management, the pragmatic aspects of implementing data structures such as lists and hash tables and managing concurrent threads. Debugging tools and techniques are discussed and common programming errors are considered along with defensive programming techniques to avoid such errors. Emphasis is placed on using common Unix tools to manage aspects of the software construction process, such as version control and regression testing. The subject is taught from a practical viewpoint and it includes a considerable amount of programming practice.

Details

Academic unit Computer Science
Unit code COMP9017
Unit name Systems Programming
Session, year
? 
Semester 1, 2022
Attendance mode Normal day
Location Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney
Credit points 6

Enrolment rules

Prohibitions
? 
COMP2129 OR COMP2017 OR COMP9129
Prerequisites
? 
None
Corequisites
? 
None
Assumed knowledge
? 

COMP9003

Available to study abroad and exchange students

Yes

Teaching staff and contact details

Coordinator John Stavrakakis, john.stavrakakis@sydney.edu.au
Tutor(s) Andrew Xu , andrew.xu@sydney.edu.au
Sam Arch, sarc9328@uni.sydney.edu.au
Type Description Weight Due Length
Final exam (Take-home short release) Type D final exam Final examination
Computer examination
30% Formal exam period 3 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO11 LO10 LO9 LO8 LO7 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment A1
Solve a programming problem
10% Week 04
Due date: 17 Mar 2022
17 days
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO8 LO3 LO2
Assignment A2
Solve and explain programming problem to instructor
30% Week 06
Due date: 31 Mar 2022
30 days
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO11
Assignment A3
Solve and explain programming problem to instructor
30% Week 11
Due date: 12 May 2022
30 days
Outcomes assessed: LO9 LO10 LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO11
Type D final exam = Type D final exam ?

A1

Solve and explain programming problem. Students will be provided with a description of the problem, will write a solution that is to be completed independently, submit by the due date, and be evaluated by input/output tests.

A2, A3

Solve and explain programming problem to instructor. Students will be provided with a description of the problem, will write a solution that is to be completed independently, submit by the due date, and be evaluated by explaining their solution and answer questions from the instructor.

Students will need to be available to interact with the instructor online through video conferencing software, with screen sharing as a viva voce style examination.

Marks are awarded only when both a solution is submitted, and a viva voce is performed. Automated testing of the program will contribute to the grade.

 

Final examination

The final exam can cover any aspect of the course contents. Students will be asked to demonstrate knowledge in systems programming concepts, reading and tracing through memory related issues. Write short programs. Write test cases and debug with existing test cases. Information about the examination format and materials required will be available in Week 13 Lecture.

 

Conditions for pass in this course

  • At least 40% in the assessment grade
  • At least 50% in final examination
  • At least 50% total

In order to pass this unit, a student must achieve at least 40% in the formative assessment and 50% in the final exam. A student must also achieve an overall final mark of 50 or more. Any student not meeting these requirements may be given a maximum final mark of no more than 45 regardless of their average. 

 

Further information about assessments

Lecture 1 will include information about assessment conditions and submission instructions

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on the course website: edstem.org

Students may be asked for further development of their assessments if they fail to attend at least 80% of their tutorials or have approved special consideration.
 

 

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

For more information see sydney.edu.au/students/guide-to-grades.

The tutors will provide further feedback to students about correctness, style and testing.

 

Automatically graded submissions provide further feedback.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

This unit has an exception to the standard University policy or supplementary information has been provided by the unit coordinator. This information is displayed below:

No late submissions are accepted for any assessments.

Special consideration

If you experience short-term circumstances beyond your control, such as illness, injury or misadventure or if you have essential commitments which impact your preparation or performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website provides information on academic honesty, academic dishonesty, and the resources available to all students.

The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic dishonesty or plagiarism seriously.

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic dishonesty. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of dishonesty, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Admin/introduction to C Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO8
Week 02 First C programs with text processing Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO6 LO7 LO8
Addressable memory 1, strings and arrays Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO8
Week 03 C pointers and C library functions Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO6 LO7 LO8
Addressable memory 2, structures and files Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 04 Structs, Unions, Bitfields and Files Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9
Memory management and linked lists Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO11
Week 05 Dynamic memory and debugging Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9
Function pointers, signals Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO11
Week 06 File IO, Function pointers and Signals Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO11
Preprocessor and Linking Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9
Week 07 Compiler pipeline, Signals, Makefile and Shared Library Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9
Parallelism and concurrency. Processes and fork Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10
Week 08 Processes and fork Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10
Interprocess communication IPC Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10
Week 09 IPC. Shared memory and Pipes Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10
Thread safety and synchronisation 1 Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10 LO11
Week 10 Parallelism with POSIX threads and optimisations Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10
Thread safety and synchronisation 2 Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10
Week 11 Synchronisation and atomics Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10
Scalable algorithm templates Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10
Week 12 Memory usage patterns and buffer overflow Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10 LO11
Performance of parallel programs Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10
Week 13 Revision Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10
Revision and examination overview Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10

Attendance and class requirements

Course websites:

The course website on edstem.org will contain information, including important announcements. Teaching staff will be communicating to all students and it is considered part of the course. Students are expected to regularly visit this website to know these announcements and information concerning format and schedule of assessment. Canvas is a website that will be used to disseminate the online lecture recordings and for publishing of results.

Online attendance:

Students are asked to attend their tutorial class each week as part of their assessment. Students are advised to follow the procedures concerning late attendance, or failure to attend. Such procedures will be presented in the course lectures.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

All readings for this unit can be accessed on the Library eReserve link available on Canvas.

  • Computer Systems: A Programmer’s Perspective, Randal E. Bryant and David R. O`Hallaron, 9781292101767, 3rd edition, Pearson Education, 2016, Boston

Reference books

  • Brian W. Kernighan and Dennis M. Ritchie – The C Programming Language. Prentice Hall. 1988. 0-13-110362-8
  • Lin and Snyder. Principles of Parallel Programming. Pearson Education. 2008
  • Jeri R. Hanly, Elliot B. Koffman. Problem Solving and Program Design in C. 6th Edition. Addison Wesley. 2010. ISBN:0321198034. Note: 4th edition does not contain the chapter on IPC
  • Paul Davies. The Indispensable Guide to C. 1st Edition. 1995. ISBN-13: 978-0201624380

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University’s graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. apply code quality strategies appropriate for C, including preprocessor techniques, and use of common idioms
  • LO2. use Unix commands and system calls (including usage of flags etc) from online manual system
  • LO3. demonstrate the approach and concepts of Unix, including its tools philosophy, processes (including pipes and redirection), the file system, and the shell
  • LO4. compose correct, clean code in C that allocates, deallocates and manages memory
  • LO5. construct correctly implement standard linked list data structures - higher performance could involve slightly more complicated structures such as binary search trees
  • LO6. assess code execution using debugging tools
  • LO7. apply a thorough automated testing regime using tools such as make, diff, scripts to present the outcomes, and a tool to manage regression testing - higher performance could involve ability to construct such a regime
  • LO8. read and write code that correctly uses the main standard library functions, especially for I/O, file handling, and string handling - higher performance could involve elegant use of these functions, particularly avoiding idioms which are extremely inefficient
  • LO9. evaluate common memory-related errors (such as memory leaks, dangling pointers) and how to avoid these - higher performance could involve detecting errors in example code, and fixing them using debuggers
  • LO10. construct, debug, and evaluate parallel or concurrent programs.
  • LO11. Understand and identify security vulnerabilities in memory usage patterns.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities
GQ1 GQ2 GQ3 GQ4 GQ5 GQ6 GQ7 GQ8 GQ9
Fewer assessments and better scheduling

Every week students must:

  • Read the required sections of literature
  • Attend and take notes for the Lecture (Mondays)
  • Make progress on and complete the assessments (as required)
  • Prepare for the Lab by reviewing reading, lecture and lab questions 
  • Attend and participate in weekly Lab with tutor(as timetabled)

Additionally:

  • Students should ask questions on edstem.org

Disclaimer

The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.