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East Tennessee State University
Department of Computer & Information Sciences
CSCI 2150 -- Computer Organization
Spring Semester, 2008

Last updated: 29 December 2008

[ General | Schedule | Grading | Expectations | Other Policies | Attachment ]


Name:David Tarnoff
Office:Room 4-469, Roy S. Nicks Hall
Office Hrs:Monday 12:30 - 2:30 PM
Tuesday and Thursday 2:05 - 2:50 PM
Wednesday 1:30 - 4:00 PM
or by appointment
Click here for my latest schedule
Phone:423.439.6404 (Office/voice mail)
Web page:This course does not use D2L. Please refer to the course web page at either of the following URLs:
http://csciwww.etsu.edu/tarnoff/ (mirror)

Course Details:

Course Number: CSCI 2150

Course Title: Computer Organization

Meeting Times:

Section 001: Mon/Wed 9:20 AM to 11:20PM in Nicks Hall Room 347
 Section 201: Mon/Wed 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM in Nicks Hall Room 347
 Each week there will be one hour of laboratory time scheduled.
This will be during the last hour of either the Monday or Wednesday meeting time.
Unless otherwise announced, class will always meet in the lecture room.

Catalog Description: A study of the physical implementation of the computer beginning with the mathematical and logical foundations followed by the component level design then concluded with an introduction to machine architecture. Topics include Boolean algebra, data representation, logic gates, combinational and sequential circuit design, memory cells, memory subsystems, memory hierarchy, I/O subsystems, I/O handling, interrupts, instruction representation, error detection, and serial protocols. A laboratory part of the course will provide hands-on experience in upgrading, repairing, and maintaining personal computers.

Prerequisite: CSCI 1900 and either CSCI 1250 or CSCI 1800

Credit: 4 credit hours

Outcomes: We expect students completing this course to be able to:

Required Text(s):

The textbook for this course is Computer Organization and Design Fundamentals by David Tarnoff (ISBN: 1-4116-3690-2). It is available in three formats: hardcopy, PDF of full text, and PDF of individual chapters. Both of the electronic formats are free, and if you are comfortable with e-books, one or the other should be all you need. If, however, you like to read from paper, the hardcopy should be cheaper than an ink cartridge. ($16.95 before shipping) The following links will direct you to URLs where you can obtain the different formats:

Image of front cover of Mueller textbook.

In addition to the lecture material, there will be assigned readings for the labs from an on-line supplemental text available online thru Safari. The link from on-campus is http://proquest.safaribooksonline.com/?uicode=etennstu_ip.

You can access the online books from an off campus location by visiting http://ezproxy.etsu.edu:2048/login?url=http://proquest.safaribooksonline.com/ or by going to the Sherrod library’s web site and going to Collections > Ebooks > and clicking on the Search Safari Tech Books Online link at the bottom of the page. Either way, you will come to a login screen. Just put your ETSU username (no domain required) and your library code. (Your library code can be found on the front of the ETSU student ID card. It is the tiny number under the barcode.) Enter enter your library code for your library access code.

The following Safari book will be used for the PC repair portion of this course.

Students can also find more computer science research materials at Sherrod Library's Research Guide for Computer & Information Sciences (http://sherrod.etsu.edu/tools/rg/computer.html#dblist).

Required hard drive:

For the laboratory portion of the course, the student will be required to purchase an external USB 2.0 hard drive. This will be required in order to do the installation of the operating systems and applications. Details on the purchase of this hard drive will be made available during the first class period of the semester. Purchase this hard drive by Wednesday of the third week of class!

Course outline:

The course outline is presented below. The instructor has the right to alter the outline at any time due to time constraints, unexpected scheduling conflicts, or overall benefit to class effectiveness.

January 19th: Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday (No class)
General digital system and signal concepts1.0 through 1.3 
Digital signals and binary numbers1.4 through 2.4 
Representing analog values and Gray codes2.5, 2.6, and 2.9 LAB: PC BIOS upgrade & configuration
Binary representations and arithmetic2.7 through 3.3H/W: Binary numbers distributed
More binary arithmetic concepts3.4 through 3.8LAB: Hard drives
Logic gates4.1 through 4.3 
Combinational logic and boolean algebra4.4 through 5.3LAB: PC motherboard
Laws of boolean algebra5.4 through 5.7H/W: Logic simplification distributed
Test 1 ReviewN/ALAB: PC Troubleshooting
Test 1
Standard boolean expression formatsChapter 6LAB: MS Virtual PC and Linux install
Karnaugh mapsChapter 7H/W: Karnaugh maps distributed
Combinational logic applications8.1 through 8.4LAB: Linux RPM installation and Makefile
March 9th through 13th: Spring Break (No class)
Multiplexers, Demultiplexers, & Memory 8.5, 8.6, 10.1, and 10.2  
Memory cells10.3 through 10.7LAB: Windows XP installation
State machines11.1 and 11.2 
Implementing state machinesSection 11.3LAB: Intro to Windows XP Troubleshooting
Test 2 ReviewN/ALAB: Hard Drive Imaging
Test 2
Introduction to memory and terminology12.1 through 12.3 and 12.5H/W: Chip select distributed
Memory hierarchy13.1 through 13.3LAB: Windows XP Registry
Cache conceptsSection 13.4H/W: Cache concepts distributed
Introduction to processor architecture15.1 through 15.3LAB: Memory details
More processor concepts including
pipelining, interrupts, & DMA
15.4 through 15.9 
Bitwise operations, checksums, & Hamming Code9.1 through 9.4 and 9.6LAB: Hard drive performance (take home)
CRCs, and serial protocols9.5, and Chapter 14 
Test 3 reviewN/ALAB: Packetyzer

Final Exam Times

The following times have been assigned by the University for the final exams for our sections of CSCI 2150. Please verify these times with the University's Final Exam Schedule.

Grading policy:

The table below shows the weights carried by each assignment toward calculating a student's final grade.

Assignment Portion of final grade
Labs* 23 %
Homework 8 %
Test 1 23 %
Test 2 23 %
Test 3 23 %
Total 100%
* Lowest lab quiz grade is dropped.

The table below presents the translation between a student's total score and his or her final grade.

Percent cutoff
(Minimum score to receive grade)
0 to less than 60F

Posting of grades:

The following is duplicated from Section 5.9 of the East Tennessee State Faculty Handbook which is available on-line at http://www.etsu.edu/senate/facultyhandbook/:

"In order to be in compliance with provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (Buckley Amendment), the posting of student grades at East Tennessee State University is prohibited. Interpretations of the Buckley Amendment have also prohibited the use of any codes such as Social Security numbers and other devices that might make identification of a student and his/her grade still possible.


As a result, the distribution of grades through e-mail and/or over the phone is also not allowed.

Lab Grading:

Each lab carries equal weight towards calculating a student's lab grade. For most of the labs, the grade will be determined with a quiz scheduled during the class period following the scheduled lab. Labs are regularly scheduled once a week for the last hour of one of the class periods. Quizzes typically take around five to ten minutes to complete. Quizzes cannot be made up! The only time you can make up a lab is during open lab hours for the Nicks 491 lab. You can find these lab hours on the CSCI Department Facilities web page. Students performing a lab during these open lab hours will be at a serious disadvantage since they will not have the aid of the instructor, a lab partner, or the in-class lab lecture. Therefore, every attempt should be made to attend all of the lab periods.


There will be three non-cumulative tests during the course of the semester. They cover only the lecture material, not the laboratory material. Each test is graded on a 100-point scale and carries equal weight toward the calculation of the student's final grade.

Make-up tests (exams and/or quizzes) will be given for authorized university activities only if a student presents suitable documentation (evidence) explaining the absence to the instructor prior to the scheduled exam time. The instructor reserves the right to disapprove any explanations for absences presented without prior notice and not provide the opportunity for a make-up test. Students knowing they will be absent from an announced test because of personal or business reasons are required to inform the instructor before the absence. A make-up test may be given early in some cases.

Tests may include any material covered in lectures, assigned readings, or exercises even if the material was not covered directly in lecture.


Occassional homework assignments will be given covering the lecture or laboratory material. These will all be announced during class along with the distribution of the problem sheets. Please do the work on the distributed problem sheets. Typically, a copy of the problem sheet will be available on the course web site. Homework is to be done on an individual basis.

Expectations, Attendance, and Participation:

Both students and instructors have expectations of one another. Many of these are mutual. Students should expect the instructor to be in class on time, to be prepared, to be attentive to students, to be available to answer questions and to provide help related to the course, and to make a genuine effort to help students achieve the course objectives. On those rare occasions when the instructor must miss class, students should expect suitable arrangements for the class to continue in the instructor's absence. Students should expect the instructor to devote considerable time and effort to the course.

The instructor has similar expectations of students: that students come to class on time, are prepared, are attentive and participate in class, complete class assignments and submit them on time, and make a genuine effort to meet the course objectives. The instructor expects students to devote considerable time and effort to the course.

When you are absent, you are still responsible for material, assignments, and anything else that occurs in class. When you must miss class, you are responsible for finding out what was missed, making sure that any work due that day gets to the instructor, and getting any assignments or materials handed out during your absence so that you can prepare for the next class. This is a 4-hour course and you should be prepared to spend a minimum of 4-6 hours outside of class for each hour in-class. Attendance and participation is important; students with poor attendance generally do poorly. Missing material from one class makes it difficult to understand new material and, once behind, it is difficult to catch up. You are encouraged to ask appropriate questions and to participate in class discussions and activities. You may learn as much from one another as from the instructor. If you are confused about some point, chances are that others are also confused and will appreciate that you asked for clarification.

Academic Integrity:

Student-teacher relationships are built on trust. For example, students must trust that teachers have made responsible decisions about the structure and content of the course, and teachers must trust that work submitted by a student was indeed done by the student. Acts which violate this trust undermine the educational process and are inconsistent with our very reason for being at ETSU.

You are encouraged to discuss the material and issues addressed in the course, including assignments, with members of the class and others. Helping one another find and understand problems in assignments is permitted as long as an honest individual attempt has been made to solve the problem. Everyone, however, must do his/her own work. Completing an assignment "by committee" and submitting it as an individual work is academic misconduct unless the assignment has been clearly designated as a team assignment. Your name on submitted work is an affirmation that the work is yours.

The following is taken from section 5.7 "Academic Misconduct" of the East Tennessee State University Faculty Handbook, June 1, 2001:

"Academic misconduct will be subject to disciplinary action. Any act of dishonesty in academic work constitutes academic misconduct. This includes plagiarism, the changing of falsifying of any academic documents or materials, cheating, and the giving or receiving of unauthorized aid in tests, examinations, or other assigned school work. Penalties for academic misconduct will vary with the seriousness of the offense and may include, but are not limited to: a grade of 'F' on the work in question, a grade of 'F' of the course, reprimand, probation, suspension, and expulsion. For a second academic offense the penalty is permanent expulsion.

"Plagiarism is defined as follows by Black, Henry Campbell, Black's Law Dictionary, West Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1968 (p. 1308): 'The act of appropriating the literary composition of another, or parts or passages of his writings, or the ideas or language of the same, and passing them off as the product of one's own mind.'

"Moreover, 'To be liable for plagiarism it is not necessarily to exactly duplicate another's literary work it being sufficient if unfair use of such work is made by lifting of substantial portion thereof, but even an exact counterpart of another's work does not constitute 'plagiarism' if such counterpart was arrived at independently' (O'Rouke vs. RKO Radio Pictures, D. C., Mass., 44F. Supp. 480, 482, 483)."

Special Accommodations:

Students with needs for note taking or test taking accommodations should make arrangements with the instructor during the first week of the term.

Laptop Policy:

The use of laptops or PDAs for the purpose of note taking or viewing the on-line course notes is permitted. All other uses are prohibited. Any student found to violate this policy will be asked to discontinue use of the device for the remainder of the class period. A second offense will result in the removal of the student's laptop privileges for the remainder of the semester.


Classes are seldom canceled; use your better judgment if main roads are snow-covered or icy. Please listen to the radio (WETS) or visit the University's Alert Page if there is any doubt about early morning classes being canceled or delayed.

Use of CSCI Laboratories:The CSCI laboratories are to be used only for work pertaining to CSCI courses. You may not work in the Nicks Hall or Gilbreath Hall labs for other freshman and sophomore level computer science classes. Failure to abide by this policy may result in the removal of your lab privileges which likely will result in a failing grade. A complete list of lab rules to be observed when using a CSCI laboratory can be found at http://www-cs.etsu.edu/department/rules.htm.

Food, drinks, and tobacco products: Food, drinks, and the use of tobacco products of any type are never permitted in any of the labs. In addition, no tobacco products of any type may be used inside ETSU campus buildings.

Please make sure to see the syllabus attachment provided by the Office of the Registrar regarding key dates and other information.

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