Computer Systems and -Architecture 

On this page you will find information about the course "Computersystemen en -architectuur" (1001WETCAR) for the first semester of the 2014-2015 academic year at the University of Antwerp.

This page is written in English for the benefit of foreign Erasmus students.

This course consists of two interwoven parts:
Computer Systems
Computer Architecture

For which parts of the book correspond to the lectures, have a look at the overview of what to study for the exam.

First Session

Your total score for this course depends on the following:

  • During the semester: permanent evaluation counts for 55% of the course grade. Assignments and Projects are handed in via Blackboard. Projects are evaluated during an oral defense.
  • Examination period: the Theory exam counts for 25% of the course grade.
    The course material covered by the theory exam is described in this overview of what to study for the exam.
  • Examination period: the practical exam together with its oral defense counts for 20% of the course grade.
    • Examination period: Practical exam (in computer lab: preparation of the design of a datapath as well as translating a high-level program to that architecture)
    • Examination period: Defense of practical exam with questions to test Computer Systems background
  • To pass the course, you need to attend or submit every part that will be graded (if not, your grade will be "AFW" - absent). Additionally, you need to get an overall score of at least 50% on the practical exam and projects, and a score of at least 50% on the theory exam. If not, your grade will be min(7, your_score).
Second Session
  • The weights of the different parts of the course remain the same as during the January session:
    • 25% theory-exam
    • 20% practical-exam
    • 55% assignments during the year ("permanent evaluation")
    Each of these parts may have to be re-done during the Second Session.
    You do not have to (but may) re-do those parts for which you got a score of at least 50% (i.e., "partiële vrijstelling"). You should explicitly ask for this exemption via e-mail and you will be notified via e-mail whether this request was granted.
  • For the "assignments during the year" part, you will need to individually finish and submit (and defend) the "Computer Systems" assignments and a "Computer Architecture" project. These will be slight modifications of the original ones. Deadline for these assignments is 24 August 2015 at 23:55. Submission is done via Blackboard.
  • The structure of the examination remains the same. All defenses take place during the examination period.
  • The examination method and the material to study for the Second Session are identical to that of the First Session. There will again be a written theory exam about both CS and CA, as well as a practical exam with oral defense on Computer Architecture. The course material covered by the theory exam is described in this overview of what to study for the exam.

All lectures (in PDF format) can be found online (on Blackboard, not updated frequently) and at the URL announced in class (updated frequently). Before each class, the slides are last year's. By the next lecture, the slides are updated to reflect this year's changes (including pictures of blackboard scribbles, where appropriate).
byRefenceVSbyValue.c demonstrates the use of call-by-value and call-by-reference in C.

Lab Sessions

In each lab session, you will be given some assignments (Computer Systems) and/or a project (Computer Architecture). All assignments are made individually, projects are solved in groups of two students.

Assignments (CS)

After each lab session, a new "assignment" is enabled on Blackboard, with a strict deadline. You submit your solution of the assignments before the deadline (typically one week after the lab session). You submission must have these characteristics:

  • Fill in all solutions to the assignments in the file oefeningen.html. Each solution consists of text, screenshots and/or hyperlinks to files (i.e. scripts, MIPS-files, ...).
  • Put all your files in a tgz archive. The name of that archive consists of your last and first name, without spaces. If, for example, your name is Jan De Smedt, the file name of your archive must be DeSmedtJan.tgz.

The assignments can be found here.

Projects (CA)

In each lab session, you will work on a project in pairs of two students. Projects build on each other, to converge into a unified whole at the end of the semester. During the semester, you will be evaluated three times. At these evaluation moments, you will present your solution of the past projects by giving a demo and answering some questions. You will immediately receive feedback, which you can use to improve your solution for the following evaluations.

For every project, you submit a small report of the project you made by filling in verslag.html completely. A report typically consists of a summary of everything you implemented and an explanation of the choices you made ​​in the implementation. Again, put all your files in a tgz archive. The name of that archive consists of your last and first name, without spaces. If, for example, your name is Jan De Smedt, the file name of your archive must be DeSmedtJan.tgz.

The projects can be found here.


The HTML forms you will need for the solutions (right click, save as):

You have to adapt the HTML-code manually (i.e., in notepad) to fill in the forms. A good HTML tutorial can help you with this. Remark: in the forms, the <u> element for underlining is redefined to "overline". This way, you can express NOT in Boolean algebraic expressions: e.g., NOT A OR B becomes A+B. Unfortunately, double overline is not possible. Of course, you can always use the NOT A OR B notation.


Throughout the course we will use the following tools:

Both tools require java to run. The tools are installed on the lab computers.

If you would like to run a UNIX distribution on your own computer, we suggest Ubuntu. You can install Ubuntu next to your Windows using the Windows installer. After installation, you will be able to choose on startup between Windows and Ubuntu. If you would like to run Ubuntu inside your Windows, you can install Ubuntu on VirtualBox by following these steps.

In order to copy files in Windows from and to servers (e.g., between your laptop and the server) you can use WinSCP. You can simply use the scp command if you are using UNIX.

Blackboard caveats

The burden of timely submission of your work on Blackboard is on you! (late submissions are not accepted)

  • Beware that Blackboard's clock may differ slightly from that on your computer. Allow a margin for submission.
  • Be sure to check that your submission was actually made. Check for example under Grade Centre whether your (as yet unmarked) submission shows up.






Computer Systems

Computer Architecture

1Tuesday 23 September 8:30 - 10:30TheoryG.010Introduction, Computer Abstractions
1Wednesday 24 September 16:00 - 18:00No class
1Thursday 25 September 13:45 - 15:45No class
1Friday 26 September 08:30 - 12:45No class
2Wednesday 1 October 16:00 - 18:00TheoryG.010Data Representation (Unsigned Integers)From Analog to Digital
2Thursday 2 October 13:45 - 15:45TheoryA.143Logic Design, Logic Gates
2Friday 3 October 08:30 - 10:30 (Group A)
Friday 3 October 10:45 - 12:45 (Group B)
Lab SessionG.025Introduction to UNIX
3Wednesday 8 October 16:00 - 18:00No class
3Thursday 9 October 13:45 - 15:45No class
3Friday 10 October 08:30 - 12:45Lab SessionG.025 (Group A)
G.026 (Group B)
Regular expressions and sedGates and Wires
4Wednesday 15 October 16:00 - 18:00TheoryG.010Computer Abstractions: Performance
4Thursday 16 October 13:45 - 15:45TheoryG.010Data Representation (Signed Integers, Fixed Point)
4Friday 17 October 08:30 - 12:45Lab SessionG.025 (Group A)
G.026 (Group B)
UNIX ScriptingAdders
5Wednesday 22 October 16:00 - 18:00TheoryG.010Performance
5Thursday 23 October 13:45 - 15:45TheoryG.010Data Representation (Floating Point)
5Friday 24 October 08:30 - 12:45Lab SessionG.025 (Group A)
G.026 (Group B)
Data RepresentationALU
6Wednesday 29 October 16:00 - 18:00TheoryG.010Logic Gates: memory
6Thursday 30 October 13:45 - 15:45TheoryG.010Finite State Machines
6Friday 31 October 08:30 - 12:45Lab SessionG.025 (Group A)
G.026 (Group B)
viContinue work on ALU (supervised "light")
7Wednesday 5 November 16:00 - 18:00TheoryG.010Simple Datapath
7Thursday 6 November 13:45 - 15:45TheoryG.010Assembler
7Friday 7 November 08:30 - 10:30 (Group A)
Friday 7 November 10:45 - 12:45 (Group B)
Lab SessionG.025FSM
8Wednesday 12 November 16:00 - 18:00TheoryG.010Assembler
Data Representation (character representations)
8Wednesday 12 November 23:55 Project deadlineBlackboardProject 1-3
8Thursday 13 November 13:45 - 15:45TheoryG.010Assembler: leaf functions
8Friday 14 November 08:30 - 12:45Evaluation and feedbackG.025Evaluation Adders + ALU
9Wednesday 19 November 16:00 - 18:00TheoryG.010Assembler: pointers, pass by value/reference
9Thursday 20 November 13:45 - 15:45TheoryG.010Assembler: non-leaf functionsSimple Datapath (full)
9Friday 21 November 08:30 - 12:45Lab SessionG.025 (Group A)
G.026 (Group B)
10Wednesday 26 November 16:00 - 18:00TheoryG.010Nested lexical scope
Frames/Activation Records (data structures)
10Thursday 27 November 13:45 - 15:45TheoryG.010Frames/Activation Records (assembler)
representing matrices
10Friday 28 November 08:30 - 12:45Lab SessionG.025 (Group A)
G.026 (Group B)
MIPS: Stacks and SubroutinesDatapath 2
11Wednesday 3 December 16:00 - 18:00TheoryG.010class cancelled
11Wednesday 3 December 23:55 Project deadlineBlackboardProject 4-5
11Thursday 4 December 13:45 - 15:45TheoryG.010Computer Arithmetic (assembler)Computer Arithmetic (circuits)
11Friday 5 December 08:30 - 12:45Evaluation and feedbackG0.25Evaluation FSM + Datapath
12Wednesday 10 December 16:00 - 18:00TheoryG.010Assembler: more instructions
linking and loading
12Thursday 11 December 13:45 - 15:45TheoryG.010Assembler: linking and loading
other architectures (than MIPS)
12Friday 12 December 08:30 - 12:45Lab SessionG.025 (Group A)
G.026 (Group B)
MIPS: RecursionUsing the datapath
13Wednesday 17 December 16:00 - 18:00TheoryG.010ExceptionsDatapath with pipelining
13Wednesday 17 December 23:55 Project deadlineBlackboardProject 6-7
13Thursday 18 December 13:45 - 15:45TheoryG.010
Course overview + exam questions
Datapath with pipelining
Course overview + exam questions
13Friday 19 December 08:30 - 12:45Evaluation and feedbackG0.25Evaluation final datapath

Computer Systems
Program of the lab sessions

Exercises 1: Introduction to Unix

Introduction session on Unix commands. The use of Unix Shell Commands is explained.


Exercises 2: Regular Expressions and Sed

Introduction and assignments on regular expressions and sed.


Exercises 3: UNIX Scripting

Introduction to and assignments on UNIX Scripting.


Exercises 4: Data Representation

Assignments on data representation




Exercises 6: MIPS

Assignments on MIPS


Exercises 7: MIPS: Stacks and subroutines

Assignments on MIPS Stacks and subroutines


Exercises 8: MIPS: Recursion

Assignments on MIPS Recursion


Computer Architecture
Program of the lab sessions

Project 1: Gates and Wires

Introduction to Logisim and the use of gates.


Project 2: Adders

Build an 12-bit adder (ripple carry adder and carry lookahead adder).


Project 3: ALU

Build a 12-bit ALU.


Project 4: FSM

Build a register file, counter, clock divider and finite State Machine for a traffic light.


Project 5: Datapath (1)

Build a program counter and a datapath.


Project 6: Datapath (2)

Add branch, jump and immediate instructions to the instruction set.


Project 7: Using the Datapath

Write programs to run on your datapath.


Second Session

This is a variation on the projects of the first session. Project 1 and 2 can be discarded.


Maintained by Hans Vangheluwe. Last Modified: 2015/09/20 10:45:39.