Course Structure - Spring 2017

CS 045: Computer Organization and Architecture

"Digital logic, data representation, computer arithmetic, software vs. hardware tradeoffs, instruction set architecture, addressing techniques, cache, virtual memory, and pipelining. "

Professor Don Patterson
Lecture: MWF 8:00AM - 9:05pm
Classroom: ADM 219
Discussion Section: N/A
Telephone: 7028 (on campus) 805-565-7028 (off campus)
Office Hours:
  • Mondays 3:10pm to 4:10pm
  • Wednesdays 3:10pm to 4:10pm
  • Thursdays 10:00am to 11:00am

There are 146 available appointments, shared across all my classes and my advisees. Drop-in or reserve a 20 minutes appointment here (my email user name is "dpatterson")

Teaching Assistant: N/A
Email: N/A
Office Hours: N/A

The following book(s) are required for this class. You are welcome to get them from whichever store is most convenient.

The following book(s) are optional for this class.

C Programing Language book

The C Programming Language by Kernighan/Ritchie

Linux Pocket Guide book cover

Linux Pocket Guide by Barrett

Class Attendance (3 dropped) ~20%
Labs ~40%
Exams ~40%

As the class progresses I may find it necessary to alter the percentages.

This class is a lot of work. You will have to read a lot. You will have to manage many deadlines. You will have to read many pages of technical text.

Here are some things you will be learning:

  • Machine level representation of data
  • Machine level representation of programs
  • Machine level organization of memory

Letter grades will be calulated according to this table


Letter Grade

[94 - 100]


[90 - 94)


[87 - 90)


[83 - 87)


[80 - 83)


[77 - 80)


[73 - 77)


[70 - 73)


[67 - 70)


[63 - 67)


[60 - 63)


< 60


I prefer to give many small assignments which build up a picture of overall student learning success and not just rely on large exams which students may bomb based on non-learning related complications. Unfortunately, this semester this class does not lend itself to that style. Students this semester will have the responsibility to keep up with the reading and engage with the class motivated by a few large assignments.

At the end of the day, learning requires the active initiative of the student. I consider myself someone who points students in the right direction and can/will explain the fundamentals of a subject matter. I can't actually do the work of learning for a student. That takes effort and self-motivation. I will help to provide structure and incentives for that learning, but you also need to learn how to expand on this subject yourself. In a technical field like this, you will be left behind the field in about six months, regardless of how well I present the subject matter, if you can't keep learning on your own.

I like to stop talking periodically, until students ask questions.

Participation will be assessed by attendance on days in which nothing tangible is due. Attendance will be collected via index cards.

3 Participation points will automatically be dropped. This is to accomodate sicknesses without a doctor's note, car problems, family issues, strategic time allocation etc.

This class will have three lab assignments which will be assigned throughout the semester. They are complicated and will require time and attention to complete. Students should begin them as soon as they are released so there is sufficient time to ask questions and attend office hours to have questions clarified.

I do not currently plan on having quizzes in this class.

This class will have two in-class exams

I strive to pick the best-of-class tools to use to administer this class and with which to teach. That requires using multiple websites. They are carefully chosen. Unfortunately, like most of the rest of online activities they are also highly fragmented (not one super-tool). We utilize several online tools in this class. Please familiarize yourself with their use and location. I expect you to check in and use all of them:

This semester our tools will consist of the following:

  1. This web page: in particular the calendar part, is the authoritative location for communicating assignments, materials from the class and due dates.
  2. Canvas for the gradebook
  3. Canvas for logistics
  4. Email if absolutely necessary

For this class I require a laptop. You will be asked to try different things on different days in class that will require a network connection and an ssh client. You could actually get away with using a smartphone if you had an ssh client on it

We are still developing appropriate norms around technology use in classrooms and the nature of this class requires us to be fully present

It is hard to navigate appropriate norms. On the one hand my students are almost always adults. You should be able to choose to use electronics in class if you want. On the other hand there is a world of sophisticated software, marketing and designs that are doing everything they can to get your attention. They are so good at what they do that you don't have control over your own cognition. One thing that is clear - if you have your laptop open, if you are texting, tweeting, pinteresting, doing email, surfing the web, playing candy crush etc, you are not learning as much as people who put away their electronics and focus fully on the class. The truth is you are lousy at multi-tasking and it's hurting your grades because it's preventing you from thinking deeply about anything. Putting away the devices requires discipline that some of you need to learn, but won't unless you are forced.

There's an additional problem though. It turns out that if the person next to you is using a laptop, it hurts your GPA also. Using your laptop is like second-hand smoke. It's not just you hurting yourself, it's you hurting other people as well.

Clay Shirky has written a long article about these problems that is worth considering as we start off a new semester

If you struggle to pay attention when people around you are working on their computer, understand that the struggle is real and you should sit in the front.

Typically at the beginning of class I will take the opportunity to address issues of Christian faith and it's relationship to our course material, current events or personal reflections as it seems appropriate to me. This may include times of prayer, listening to music or speech, or directed discussion.

These moments are typically not planned far in advance or recorded, but are noted post-facto on the class calendar.

We have many goals for students taking courses in the Computer Science Program. Some of them are specific to particular courses, but almost all are examples of our Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs).

This are the overarching Computer Science Program Learning Objectives

  1. Programming Students will know how to write high quality computer code.
  2. Analysis Students will be able to create and analyze algorithms using formal methods.
  3. Context Students will be able to do the above in the context of real-world problems requiring creativity and adapativity in the face of ambiguity and poorly formed problems
  4. Christian Connection Students will be able to reason in community/conversation about social impacts of computational artifacts on individuals and society in the context of general and specific Christian revelation. (Requires communication, analysis, background knowledge)