COS 597D: Advanced Topics in Operating Systems

Fall 2018 Syllabus

Prof. Amit Levy

One of the fundamental trade-offs in system design is Systems need to balance how much extensibility, safety, and performance they provide applications. This is one of the fundamental trade-offs in system design. The goal of the course is to make you a better systems builder, paper reader, and researcher, by practicing identifying this trade-off in various settings and thinking of ways to subsume it.


Assignments & Exams

There is neither a midterm nor a final exam for this course.

Each week we will read 1-3 papers from the systems literature. You are required to make 5 substantive annotations on each paper using Perusall by noon the day before class (you’ll still be able to respond to each other after the deadline. Your annotations can be questions, summaries, or insights, but it’s important to engage with the reading.

In addition, each student (or in groups) must submit a final report and give a final presentation. You have a choice of either:

The final report should be an appropriate length to showcase your work succinctly. Most reports should probably be 4-6 pages in USENIX conference style ( excluding figures and references.

Due Dates


Annotations for readings in Perusall are always due noon the day before class.

Project or Literature Review

October 22nd - Proposal due

October 24nd - 10min Proposal presentations

January 15th (Dean’s day) - Final reports due

January 14th & 16th - Final presentations (regular class times)



Week of Monday Wednesday
09/10 - 09/15 No class What is an Operating System?
09/17 - 09/21 Course administrativia
Reading: “The Slow Winter”
No class
09/24 - 09/28 Monolithic kernels Microkernels
10/01 - 10/05 Extensible kernels High performance kernels
10/08 - 10/12 OSDI OSDI
10/15 - 10/19 Distributed systems Distributed systems
10/22 - 10/26 Proposals due Distributed systems Proposal presentations
10/29 - 11/02 Fall Recess Fall Recess
11/05 - 11/09 No class No class
11/12 - 11/16 Language-based approaches Language-based approaches
11/19 - 11/23 Language-based approaches Thanksgiving
11/26 - 11/30 Networking Networking
12/03 - 12/07 Networking Misc
12/10 - 12/14 Misc Misc