System Programming Lab, Spring 2008-2009

BGU Computer Science Department

Syllabus and Requirements

The Lab will be based on a LINUX platform, and use the C programming language. The emphasis is on low-level programming. Goals of this lab are to introduce issues in low level programming, as well as techniques on how to learn needed information on demand. The following topics will be covered via hands-on experience during this course:

  1. Low level programming in C. This includes all sorts of "tricks" that emphasise the power of low-level computing, as an aid to understanding computing systems in depth:
    1. Pointers to functions and their applications.
    2. Self modifying code and applications.
  2. Binary files of various types: structure and processing.
    1. Maintaining data structures in files (e.g. b-tree, Linux directories).
    2. Object and executable files (demonstrated through ELF files).
    3. Linking and Loading, Dynamic Loading.
  3. Using operating systems services (system calls):
    1. Process control: creating and terminating processes, process control, signals. Will be introduced by programming a simple shell.
    2. System-level Input/Output: read, write files, file metadata, sharing files.
  4. Issues in program developement:
    1. Debugging programs, and the effect of compound bugs (e.g. various types of memory leaks, compiler bugs).
    2. Patching and hacking.
    3. Performance analysis, profiling.


Course requirements

Attendance of all lecture and lab sessions, and performance of all lab tasks (including prerequisite reading). Reports as required at every lab session. Grading: 2 mid-term exams, each 15% of final grade. The rest (70%) roughly equal between lab sessions.


A course in systems programming. Basic knowledge of the C programming language, plus experience in using a similar programming language (C++, Java), or significant experience of programming in C.

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