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CSE 320: Computer Organization and Architecture
Course Syllabus

Spring Term, 2021

Course Information

Boolean algebra and digital logic. Combinational and sequential circuits. Representations of data and instructions. Architecture and major components of computer systems. Assembly language programming and interfacing to high level languages. Assembler and linker processing.

Course Objectives

This course will introduce students to the interface between the hardware and software of modern computing systems by studying the ISA (instruction set architecture) of a typical microprocessor. Students will learn about:

The primary vehicles to achieve these objectives are the study of general concepts and the study of a specific computing system which illustrates these concepts. Students will write C and assembly language programs in a UNIX environment.

InstructorQiben Yan

Online: please send email

Phone: 353-3541

Office Hours: See the course web site.


This is an online course and this is the course web site. All course information will be posted on the course web site. This course does not use desire2learn.

The contents of the course require a login using a CSE department id and password. If you are a new CSE student and are unable to access the secure site, please follow the instructions on the department facilities page for Logging in for the first time. If you continue to have difficulty accessing the site, please contact

Course StaffSee the course website for teaching assistants, learning assistants, and all course help office hours. This course is an online course. A TA or learning assistant will be available during specified lab times and/or via Zoom for student help.

Textbook Digital Design and Computer Architecture: ARM Edition 1st Edition, 2015, Sarah Harris and David Harris, ISBN-10: 0128000562, ISBN-13: 978-0128000564 Morgan Kaufmann

Prerequisites CSE 232 and CSE 260.

Important Dates See the online calendar on the class web site home page for all important dates. The course schedule is subject to change with appropriate notice.

Classes start: Tuesday, 1/19/2021

Last date to drop a class with no grade reported: 8pm, 03/10/2021

Last day of classes: 04/21/2021

Final Exam: date between Monday, 04/26/2021 – Friday, 04/30/2021

Computing This course will utilize specific software tools. Details can be found on the course web site.

Privacy Electronic conversation via email, bulletin boards, or any of the Interact! features, is different from verbal communication because it retains the identity of the participant. In this course, all participants will have access to a list of names and e-mail addresses of other course participants. Participants in the course will be able to send bulk e-mail to all other participants.


Exams Details can be found on the course web site.

System Assignments Many weeks there will be a smaller tutorial/programming assignment that must be completed during that week. All system assignments are due when indicated on the class home page.

Circuit Assignments Most weeks will include a circuit assignment that must be completed during that week.

Grading On the course web site, click the link Grades in Site Tools and Resources to see the elements of the course grade and your current grade at any time.

To be eligible to earn a non-zero grade in the course, a student must do all the following:

  • Earn at least 50% of the total points available for Circuit Assignments
  • Earn at least 50% of the total points available for System Assignments
  • Earn at least 50% of the total points available on Exams

Final grades for students who achieve the course minimum requirements are based on this scale:

  • 90%+: 4.0
  • 85%: 3.5
  • 80%: 3.0
  • 75%: 2.5
  • 70%: 2.0
  • 65%: 1.5
  • 60%: 1.0
  • <60%: 0.0

Grades are rounded to the nearest integer. Therefore, a grade of 89.5 will round to 90 and result in a grade of 4.0. A grade of 89.45 will round down to 89 and result in a grade of 3.5.

If a student wishes to question any grade, he or she must contact the TA first to discuss the issue. The grading page has a link to the appropriate contact for grading questions. If the problem cannot be resolved after consultation with the TAs, the TAs will forward a summary of the problem to the instructor (with an e-mail copy to the student).

Additional Information

Academic HonestyThe Spartan Code of Honor states, "As a Spartan, I will strive to uphold values of the highest ethical standard. I will practice honesty in my work, foster honesty in my peers, and take pride in knowing that honor is worth more than grades. I will carry these values beyond my time as a student at Michigan State University, continuing the endeavor to build personal integrity in all that I do." In addition, Article 2.III.B.2 of the Student Rights and Responsibilites (SRR) states that "The student shares with the faculty the responsibility for maintaining the integrity of scholarship, grades, and professional standards." The (insert name of unit offering course) adheres to the policies on academic honesty as specified in General Student Regulations 1.0, Protection of Scholarship and Grades; the all-University Policy on Integrity of Scholarship and Grades; and Ordinance 17.00, Examinations. (See Spartan Life: Student Handbook and Resource Guide and/or the MSU Web site:

Therefore, unless authorized by your instructor, you are expected to complete all course assignments, including homework, lab work, quizzes, tests and exams, without assistance from any source. You are expected to develop original work for this course; therefore, you may not submit course work you completed for another course to satisfy the requirements for this course. Also, you are not authorized to use the Web site to complete any course work in this course. Students who violate MSU academic integrity rules may receive a penalty grade, including a failing grade on the assignment or in the course. Contact your instructor if you are unsure about the appropriateness of your course work. (See also the Academic Integrity webpage.)

That’s the university policy.  My specific policies are as follows: You may discuss individual assignments with other students, but the assignment must be entirely your own work.  Plagiarism just makes me mad! All work turned in must be your own.  If you borrow or adapt software from a textbook or from source code that is obviously public, you must treat this as a quotation or paraphrase, acknowledging the source in the heading or the program module. All incidents of academic dishonesty will be reported to the University System.

If you cheat on an assignment, the consequences may consist of a zero on the assignment, a penalty grade of -100% on the assignment, or a zero in the course.

You may discuss assignments in general terms with your classmates, the course staff, or the instructor, but you are not permitted to receive solutions from others or to read or copy part or all of another person’s solution to a problem.

MOSSConsistent with MSU's efforts to enhance student learning, foster honesty, and maintain integrity in our academic processes, we have chosen to use a tool called MOSS (Measure of Software Similarity) to compare assignments with others submitted in the course.  The tool will compare each assignment you submit to other assignments submitted, providing links to possible matches and a 'similarity score.'  The tool does not determine whether academic dishonesty has occurred or not.  Instead, course staff will make a complete assessment and judge the originality of your work.  All submissions to this course may be checked using this tool.

DisabilitiesMichigan State University is committed to providing equal opportunity for participation in all programs, services and activities. Requests for accommodations by persons with disabilities may be made by contacting the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities at 517-884-RCPD or on the web at Once your eligibility for an accommodation has been determined, you will be issued a Verified Individual Services Accommodation ("VISA") form. Please arrange for this form to sent to the instructor at the start of the term and/or two weeks prior to the accommodation date (test, project, etc.). Requests received after this date may not be honored.

Commercialization Commercialization of lecture notes and university-provided course materials is not permitted in this course. Posting of course materials, assignments, or solutions to public or paid websites is strictly prohibited.

Religious HolidaysYou may make up course work missed to observe a major religious holiday only if you make arrangements in advance with the instructor.

Required ActivitiesTo make up course work missed to participate in a required activity for another course or a university-sanctioned event, you must provide the instructor with adequate advanced notice and a written authorization from the faculty member of the other course or from a university administrator.

Disruptive BehaviorArticle 2.3.5 of the Academic Freedom Report (AFR) for students at Michigan State University states that "The student's behavior in the classroom shall be conducive to the teaching and learning process for all concerned." Article 2.3.10 of the AFR states that "The student has a right to scholarly relationships with faculty based on mutual trust and civility." General Student Regulation 5.02 states that "no student shall . . . interfere with the functions and services of the University (for example, but not limited to, classes . . .) such that the function or service is obstructed or disrupted. Students whose conduct adversely affects the learning environment in this classroom may be subject to disciplinary action through the Student Faculty Judiciary process.