CS 261: Research Topics in Operating Systems (Fall 2016)

Tuesday/Thursday 10:00-11:30

Maxwell Dworkin 323

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Margo Seltzer
Maxwell Dworkin 241
Office hours: Monday 2-4



Computer Science 161 or equivalent.

Learning Objectives

This course is an introduction to operating systems research. After completing this course, you should be able to:

Coursework includes the following components:

The readings fall into five main categories. We will begin with an historical overview of operating systems, beginning with some of the earliest operating systems and ending with today's multi-core systems. We'll then examine some current trends in operating systems by reading about virtual machine monitors and the rebirth of virtualization. Next, we will view storage and file system evolution over the past forty years, moving from local file systems to distributed storage to the cloud. Our study of storage systems will lead directly into distributed systems, where we will see how the earliest research laid the groundwork for today's cloud-based world. Finally, we will cover topics where systems research has been informed by work in different communities such as theory, programming languages, and security.

The course culminates with a research project, where students practice the art of operating systems research. There will be several deliverables on the way to a final project, including (but not limited to) a research statement, a research plan, an extended abstract, a final paper, and an oral presentation. At each stage of the process, I will provide detailed feedback and suggestions.

Course Requirements

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If you have a favorite system or something interesting that you think should be included here, please let me know.