University of Waterloo
University of Waterloo

CS 854 - Advanced Topics in Computer Systems: Experimental OS Techniques

Winter 2016

Comp Sec Camp Loc Time Days/Date Bldg Room Instructor
SEM 001UW U01:00-03:50FDC 2568Martin Karsten

Instructor's Name Office Location Contact Office Hours
Martin Karsten DC 3506 by email

Registrar's Schedule of Classes


From the School's web page:

"Graduate courses assume a background of at least third-year Honours Computer Science at the University of Waterloo and a similar level of mathematical maturity."

For CS 854, students are expected to understand the fundamentals of programming languages, data structures, operating systems, and algorithms, each at least at the level of an introductory course.

Course Overview

Current trends in hardware design lead to changes in processor architecture: increasing transistor density is used for building parallel (and potentially heterogeneous) execution paths; increasing memory latency (relative to processing speed) is masked by deep caching hierarchies; hardware performance counters give increasingly detailed insights into execution performance at runtime. Furthermore, virtualization and cloud computing introduce novel computing scenarios, such as server consolidation and big data analysis. In this course, we will study the recent research literature addressing those challenges and opportunities. We will investigate and attempt to categorize and generalize solution approaches. The course is comprised of several elements:

Evaluation (tentative)

Students must complete and sign the Academic Integrity acknowledgement form and hand it in at the beginning of the third class. See policies below for further information.


List of Papers



Schedule (tentative)

Date TopicNotes
Jan 8Organizational Meet 
Jan 15IntroductionAdditional Reading
Jan 22ConcurrencyAdditional Reading
Jan 29PerformanceAdditional Reading
Feb 5Research Papers: Hardware 
Feb 12Research Papers: Memory 
Feb 19Reading Weekno class
Feb 26Project Reviews 
Mar 4Research Papers: I/O 
Mar 11Research Papers: Storage 
Mar 18Research Papers: Kernels 
Mar 25Good Fridayno class
Apr 1Research Papers: Transactions 
Apr 4Project PresentationsMonday


Academic Integrity

In order to maintain a culture of academic integrity, members of the University of Waterloo community are expected to promote honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility. Check the Office of Academic Integrity's website for more information.

All members of the UW community are expected to hold to the highest standard of academic integrity in their studies, teaching, and research. This site explains why academic integrity is important and how students can avoid academic misconduct. It also identifies resources available on campus for students and faculty to help achieve academic integrity in — and out — of the classroom.


A student who believes that a decision affecting some aspect of his/her university life has been unfair or unreasonable may have grounds for initiating a grievance. Read Policy 70 — Student Petitions and Grievances, Section 4. When in doubt please be certain to contact the department's administrative assistant who will provide further assistance.


A student is expected to know what constitutes academic integrity, to avoid committing academic offenses, and to take responsibility for his/her actions. A student who is unsure whether an action constitutes an offense, or who needs help in learning how to avoid offenses (e.g., plagiarism, cheating) or about "rules" for group work/collaboration should seek guidance from the course professor, academic advisor, or the Undergraduate Associate Dean. For information on categories of offenses and types of penalties, students should refer to Policy 71 — Student Discipline. For typical penalties, check Guidelines for the Assessment of Penalties.

Avoiding Academic Offenses

Most students are unaware of the line between acceptable and unacceptable academic behaviour, especially when discussing assignments with classmates and using the work of other students. For information on commonly misunderstood academic offenses and how to avoid them, students should refer to the Faculty of Mathematics Cheating and Student Academic Discipline Policy.


A decision made or a penalty imposed under Policy 70, Student Petitions and Grievances (other than a petition) or Policy 71, Student Discipline may be appealed if there is a ground. A student who believes he/she has a ground for an appeal should refer to Policy 72 — Student Appeals.

Note for Students With Disabilities

AccessAbility Services (formerly the Office for Persons with Disabilities or OPD), located in Needles Hall, Room 1132, collaborates with all academic departments to arrange appropriate accommodations for students with disabilities without compromising the academic integrity of the curriculum. If you require academic accommodations to lessen the impact of your disability, please register with the OPD at the beginning of each academic term.