CMPU-224-51 Computer Organization - Spring 2020 syllabus

This course covers the underlying principles and internal structure of computer systems, with the goal of enabling students to become better programmers and encouraging further study in the area of computer systems.

Topics covered include:

  • Computer system structure
  • Binary representation
  • Assembly language programming
  • Central Processing Unit (CPU) architecture
  • Program optimization
  • Memory subsystem
  • CMPU-102
  • CMPU-145

Rui Meireles


Email: (expected response time: 24 business-day hours, i.e. no response on weekends)

Office: Sanders Physics 304

Office hours: Mondays and Thursdays, 3:00-5:00 PM. Other times by appointment.


  • Computer Systems: A Programmer's Perspective, Third Edition by Randal E. Bryant and David R. O'Hallaron (required).
  • The C Programming Language, Second Edition by Brian Kernighan and Dennis Ritchie (optional).
  • Participation: 5%
  • Lab assignments: 45%
  • Midterm exam: 25%
  • Final exam: 25%

Class attendance is not mandatory but strongly encouraged. Students are responsible for all information given in class, whether or not it is presented in any other form.

If a student misses a class they should consult with classmates to find out about any information-academic, administrative, or other, that they may have missed.

Use of electronic devices for note taking is permitted. However, devices must be in silent mode at all times so as to not disturb the class. The use of electronic devices for non-class related purposes is prohibited.

Lab assignments shall be used to consolidate and expand upon concepts introduced in lectures.

Labs will be used to work on the assignments but often won't be sufficient. Students are expected to complete assignments on their own time.

There will be a new assignment roughly every other week.

Late submissions shall not be accepted without a very good justification.

All assignments and exams must be the sole work of the student turning them in. Copying solutions is strictly forbidden.

  • The Quantitative Reasoning Center ( helps students improve their analytical skills pertaining to quantitative subjects.
  • The Writing Center ( helps students improve the clarity and cogency of their writing.

Academic accommodations are available for students registered with the Office for Accessibility and Educational Opportunity. Students in need of ADA/504 accommodations should schedule an appointment with the professor early in the semester to arrange for said accommodations.

Vassar College is committed to providing a safe and respectful learning environment for all students. An environment free of all forms of discrimination and harassment, including sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. Vassar College has staff members trained to support students in navigating campus life, accessing health and counseling services, providing academic and housing accommodations, helping with legal protective orders, and more:

The SAVP website and the Title IX section of the EOAA website ( have more information, as well as links to both on- and off-campus resources.