Course Information


This course gives a solid understanding of the principles and abstractions used in computer systems and machine programs using C. Towards this aim, it covers a broad range of topics, providing students with an in-depth perspective and programming experience regarding the basic topics of C language and how programs are formed and executed at the microprocessor-level.

Upon the completion of COMP201, student will be able to (1) demonstrate proficiency in writing C programs that require effective memory management, (2) gain a deep knowledge of the compilation flow and runtime behavior of C programs, (3) have a clear understanding of computer arithmetic in a modern computing system, (4) recognize the relationship between a C program and its assembly translation, and (5) gain a general sense of working in a Unix environment as a power user, getting familiar with shell tools, version control systems, compilers, debuggers, profilers.

The course is taught by Aykut Erdem, Nafiseh Jabbari Tofighi, Osman Batur Ince, Doga Kukul, Yusuf Bayindir, Muhammed Burak Kizil, Ahmet Mert Yazici, Yamac Omur, Omer Burak Duran, Tufan Kivanc Kurt, Mustafa Meric Kasap, Eda Guven.


Time and Location

Lectures: Monday, Wednesday at 10:00-11:10 (Sevgi Gönül Auditorium)
Labs: Friday at 12:00-13:40 (Lab A) (SNA B242), 08:00-09:40 (Lab B) (SNA B242), 16:00-17:40 (Lab C) (ENG128)

Reference Books

Policies: All work on assignments must be done individually unless stated otherwise. You are encouraged to discuss with your classmates about the given assignments, but these discussions should be carried out in an abstract way. That is, discussions related to a particular solution to a specific problem (either in actual code or in the pseudocode) will not be tolerated.

In short, turning in someone else’s work, in whole or in part, as your own will be considered as a violation of academic integrity. Please note that the former condition also holds for the material found on the web as everything on the web has been written by someone else.


The course webpage will be updated regularly throughout the semester with lecture notes, presentations, assignments and important deadlines. All other course related communications will be carried out through Blackboard.


COMP201 is open to second-year undergraduate students. Non-COMP students should ask the course instructor for approval before the add/drop period. The prerequisites for this course is COMP 132 - Advanced Programming.

Course Requirements and Grading

Grading will be based on


Date Topic Notes
Oct 2 Introduction. Course logistics, A tour of C programs (slides) (code) B&O 1

Additional Reading:
The Strange Birth and Long Life of Unix, Warren Toomey, IEEE Spectrum, 28 Nov 2011
“A damn stupid thing to do”—the origins of C, Arstechnica
Oct 4 Bits and Bytes, Representing and Operating on Integers (slides) (code) B&O 2.2-2.3

Additional Readings:
Oct 6 Bootcamp: Programming with C and Git basics (slides)
Oct 9 Bits and Bitwise Operators (slides) (code) B&O 2.1
Oct 11 Floating point (slides) (code)
Assg0 out: Getting Started with Unix and C
B&O 2.4
Additional Reading: What Every Computer Scientist Should Know About Floating-Point Arithmetic, David Goldberg, ACM Computing Surveys, 23(1), 1991

Oct 13 Lab 1: The Linux Shell (slides) MIT MS The Shell
Stanford CS107 Unix videos 1-15, 24, 25
Oct 16 Chars and Strings in C (slides) (code) K&R 1.9, 5.5, Appx B3
Oct 18 More Strings, Pointers (slides) (code)
Assg0 in, Assg1 out: Strings in C
K&R 1.6, 5.5, Essential C 3 (strings and string.h library functions, The mechanics of pointers and arrays)
Oct 20 Lab 2: Bits, Ints and Floats, Vim (slides) MIT MS Editors (Vim)
Stanford CS107 Unix videos 28
Oct 23 Arrays and Pointers (slides) (code) K&R 5.2-5.5, Essential C 6 (Advanced pointers)
Oct 25 The Stack and The Heap (slides) K&R 5.6-5.9, Essential C 6 (The heap)
Oct 27 Lab 3: C-Strings and Valgrind (slides) Stanford CS107 Unix videos 26
Oct 30 Realloc, Memory Bugs (slides) (code) K&R 5.6-5.9, Essential C 6 (The Heap)
Nov 1 void *, Generics (slides) (code)
Assg1 in, Assg2 out: Heap Management
K&R 5.6-5.9, Essential C 6 (The Heap)
Nov 3 Lab 4: Arrays/Pointers and GDB (slides) Stanford CS107 Unix videos 27
Harvard CS50 short on GDB
Nov 6 Function Pointers (slides) (code) K&R 5.11
Nov 8 const, Structures (slides) (code) K&R 6.1-6.7
Nov 10 No labs this week
Nov 13 No class - Winter break
Nov 15 No class - Winter break
Nov 17 No lab this week - Winter break
Nov 20 Compiling C programs (slides) (code) Stanford Unix Programming Tools 1
Nov 22 Introduction to x86-64, Data Movement (slides) (code)
Assg2 in
B&O 3.1-3.4

Additional reading:
Nov 24 Lab 5: Structs, Working with multiple files, writing your own Makefiles (slides)
Nov 27 Arithmetic and Logic Operations (slides) B&O 3.5-3.6
Nov 29 x86-64 Control Flow (slides) B&O 3.6.1-3.6.2
Dec 1 No lab this week
Dec 2 Midterm Exam (Midterm Exam Guide)
Dec 4 More Control Flow (slides) B&O 3.6.3-3.6.8
Dec 6 x86-64 Procedures (slides) (code)
Assg3 out: Defusing a Binary Bomb
B&O 3.7
Dec 8 Lab 6: Machine Programming with Assembly
Dec 11 Data and Stack Frames (slides) B&O 3.8-3.9
Dec 13 Security Vulnerabilities (slides) (code) B&O 3.10
Additional Reading: Smashing the Stack for Fun and Profit, Aleph One
Dec 15 Lab 7: Runtime Stack
Dec 18 The Memory Hierarchy B&O 6.1-6.3
Dec 20 Cache Memories
Assg3 in, Assg4 out: Buffer Overflow Attacks
B&O 6.4-6.7
Cache Simulator
Dec 22 No labs this week
Dec 25 More Cache Memories B&O 6.4-6.7
Dec 27 Optimization (code) B&O 5
Dec 290 Lab 8: Memory organization
Jan 1 No class - New Year's Day
Jan 3 Linking
Assg4 in
B&O 7
Jan 5 Lab 9: Code Optimization
Jan 8 Managing The Heap B&O 9.9
Jan 10 More Heap Allocators, Wrapping Up B&O 9.10
Jan 12 No labs this week
TBA Final Exam