CS 241: Systems Programming

Semester: Fall 2007
Room: King 221
Class Time: Mon/Wed/Fri 1:30pm-2:20pm
Office Hours: Tuesday, 10:00-11:30am
Wednesday, 2:30-4:00pm
or by appointment
Professor: Benjamin Kuperman
email: benjamin.kuperman AT oberlin edu
Please include "cs241" in the subject.
AIM: ProfKuperman
Office: King 223B
Phone: x58556



(Subject to change)
1 Sep 03 Labor Day
Sep 05   Introduction and course overview HW 0
Sep 07 Chapter 1 - Quick intro to C
HW 1
2 Sep 10  
Sep 12 Last Day to Add/Drop (Sep 13) Chapter 2 - Types and operators
Sep 14   HW 2
3 Sep 17   Chapter 3 - Control flow
Sep 19 GDB and Valgrind
Sep 21 Chapter 3 - conditionals and loops
4 Sep 24   Chapter 4 - functions and scope
Sep 26 HW 3
Sep 28 Chapter 5 - arrays, strings, and pointers
5 Oct 01  
Oct 03
Oct 05
6 Oct 08   Chapter 5 - command line arguments
Oct 10 Review for midterm #1 HW 4
Oct 12 Midterm Exam #1 [topics]
7 Oct 15   Chapter 5 - Multi-dimensional arrays
Oct 17 Chapter 6 - structures
Oct 19
  Oct 22 October Break (Oct 20-28)
Oct 24
Oct 26
8 Oct 29   Chapter 6 - structures (continued)
Oct 31
Nov 02 HW 5
9 Nov 05 Last Day for P/NP, CR/NE,
  or Withdraw (Nov 06)
Nov 07   Huffman compression
Nov 09 Chapter 7 - Input and Output HW 6
10 Nov 12  
Nov 14
Nov 16 Bitwise operations
11 Nov 19   Review for midterm #2
Nov 21 Midterm Exam #2 [topics]
Nov 23 Thanksgiving Break (Nov 22-25)
12 Nov 26   C++
Nov 28
Nov 30 HW 7
13 Dec 03  
Dec 05
Dec 07
14 Dec 10 Instructor and course evaluations Review for final exam
Dec 12 No Class (ACSAC-23)
  Dec 19 Final Exam (7-9pm King 221) [topics]

Course Description

From the Oberlin catalog course description:

This course will consider the C programming language and its relationship to the Unix operating system. It will also introduce the C++ language and focus on differences between the Java and C++ applications. Some Unix system programminig issues will also be included. The course will require a significant amount of programming.

Goals and course objectives

My goals and objectives for students taking this course are as follows:

  1. Understand the role of C in the field of computing
  2. Understand the interrelationship of C and Unix
  3. Become fluent in C programming including
    • Compound data types such as structs and unions
    • Dynamically allocated structures (including cleanup)
    • Binary and bit-wise manipulations
  4. Develop the habit of thorough testing and become comfortable in using debugging tools including gdb, valgrind, etc.
  5. Become acquainted with the Unix tool philosophy and some common tools
  6. Be able to write a Unix tool
  7. Be able to compose Unix tools into shell scripts
  8. Learn how to use C++ and how it differs from Java and C


We'll be using the canonical K&R C textbook for this class.

The C Programming Language

The C Programming Language by Kernighan and Ritchie

You might also be interested in the following books as personal references:

I'll try to make a copy of these available in one of the labs for your use.

Useful Tools

There are a number of tools that may be useful to you.


Code browsing

Both of these can be incorporated into Vim or Emacs.


Grades will be calculated based on the following distribution:

The distribution might be adjusted based on the progression of the course.

Course Policy


Regular class attendance and participation is expected. Please talk to me if regular class attendance is going to be a problem.

Homework Assignments

There will be a number of assignments made in this class. I expect every student to attempt each assignment and turn in the results. You are encouraged to complete every assignment as this is one of the most effective ways to learn the material.

If you know that for some reason you will not be able to submit the assignment before the deadline, you should contact me in advance of the deadline. Extensions are only granted in exceptional circumstances, but need to be done in advance.

Late assignments will be penalized according to the following chart. Extra credit will not be accepted after the initial deadline.

Accommodations for students with disabilities

If you have a disability that might impact your performance in this course, or requires special accommodation, please contact me as soon as possible so that appropriate arrangements can be made. Support is available through Student Academic Services, specifically Jane Boomer. You will need to contact them to get your disability documented before accommodations can be made.

Plagiarism and Academic Dishonesty

I have very low tolerance for academic dishonesty, and will vigorously pursue available remedies for any incidents. All work in this class is to be performed according to the Oberlin Honor Code. Specifically I expect that:

  1. Quizzes and exams will be closed book, closed notes, and no communication between students. This includes discussing the same to students who are taking the quiz at another time.
  2. Discussion of assignments is expected and encouraged, however all work and code on assignments should be your own without outside assistance.
  3. Sources should be cited including the textbook and other web sites when you use them in your work.

Illustrative examples:

  1. Confirming that we had and exam is OK, telling another student in the class who has not taken it that it was easy/hard, what topics, etc. is NOT OK.
  2. On a project or homework, discussing what needs to be done and how it can be done is OK, having a student (other than a TA) go over your code is NOT OK, discussing what might be wrong and how to tell is OK (and encouraged).

All assignments must include the following signed statement:

"I affirm that I have adhered to the Honor Code in this assignment."

Electronic submissions should include the honor statement in either the README file or header comments and must include your name.

Grader and Tutors

Contact me if you are interested in a Student Academic Services approved tutor.

The CSMC might hold walk-in tutoring sessions as well.

VI PoweredLast Modified: December 14, 2007 - Benjamin A. Kuperman

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