COMP 421/ELEC 421,  COMP 521/ELEC 552:

Operating Systems and Concurrent Programming

Spring 2019

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This course provides a basic understanding of the software that manages a computer's hardware resources to provide a powerful abstract interface on which user programs execute. The course focuses on the control and utilization of processor, memory, storage, and network resources. The concepts in this course include operating system structure, process management and scheduling, interprocess communication, synchronization of concurrent processes, deadlock, main and secondary storage management, virtual memory, file systems, protection and security, and some introduction to networking.

The course content is structured into two parts, a principles part and a projects part. The lectures and projects have been sequenced so that by the time you are working on a project, we have covered the concepts involved in that project in the lectures. Your implementation work in the projects will help make those concepts "real" and anchor these ideas in your understanding.

There are two versions of this course: COMP 421/ELEC 421, intended for undergraduate students, and COMP 521/ELEC 552, intended for graduate student. The lectures for both versions meet together, and the projects and exams for both are the same. However, for students taking the graduate version of the course, COMP 521/ELEC 552, there will be an additional requirement as part of each of the projects.


  • The project assignment for Lab 3 is now available. As with Lab 2, this project should be done in groups of two students. You are free to pick your own partner for the project; you may keep the same partner as you had for Lab 2, or you may change partners for this project. If you need help finding a partner, please use Piazza, letting others in the class know you are looking for a partner and asking who else is looking for one. Your completed Lab 3 is due by 11:59 PM on Friday, April 19, 2019.

  • The date and location for the final exam have been announced by the Registrar. The final exam will be Tuesday, April 30, 9:00 AM-12:00 PM noon, in Herzstein Amphitheater (HRZ AMP).

  • Please read Chapters 14 and 15 in the textbook. You should have already read Chapters 1-3, 5, 8, 9, 10.1-10.6, 11, 12, and 13.2.

  • Check back here frequently for any additional or updated news.


Course meetings:

  • Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2:30-3:45, Herring Hall (HRG) 100.

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Reading assignments:

  • The textbook for the class is Operating System Concepts, Ninth Edition, by Silberschatz, Galvin, and Gagne, 2012. Note that this is the ninth edition, the same as was used last year, not the tenth edition that was just released by the publisher. The book should be available at the Rice campus bookstore and is also available (much less expensively) at places like

    Note that we will cover topics in more depth than in the book, and will also cover some in a slightly different order. There may also be a few additional reading assignments, to be assigned in class during the semester. There will be a lot of material in the lectures that is not in the book.

    Please read Chapters 14 and 15 in the textbook. You should have already read Chapters 1-3, 5, 8, 9, 10.1-10.6, 11, 12, and 13.2.


TAs (sorted in order of office hours schedule):

  • Dingming Wu, dw40%^#@*!&  Office hours: Mondays 2:00-3:00 PM, DCH 3006.
  • Avery Whitaker, averywhitaker%^#@*!&  Office hours: Mondays 7:00-9:00 PM, Hanszen Commons.
  • Spencer Chang, Spencer.Chang%^#@*!&  Office hours: Tuesdays 7:00-8:00 PM, Jones Commons.
  • Napas Udomsak, nu4%^#@*!&  Office hours: Wednesdays 3:00-4:00 PM, OEDK Table 5C.
  • Stephen Chen, xc17%^#@*!&  Office hours: Wednesdays 4:30-5:30 PM, Brochstein Pavilion.
  • Kuo-Feng Hsu, kh42%^#@*!&  Office hours: Thursdays 11:00 AM-12:00 PM, sofa area near DCH 3004 (top of stairs, in front of "Ralph S. O'Connor Terrace")
  • RJ Cunningham, rjc6%^#@*!&  Office hours: Thursdays 8:00-9:30 PM, Sammy's (in the RMC).
  • Jiarong Xing, jx22%^#@*!&  Office hours: Fridays 2:30-3:30 PM, DCH 3063.
  • Weixi Zhu wxzhu%^#@*!&  Office hours: Fridays 4:00-5:00 PM, DCH 3036.

Course information: