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 - the teaching assistants are Ahmed Imam Shah, Farzin Negahbani , and Samet Demir.


Time and Location

Lectures: Monday, Wednesday at 10:00-11:15 online via Zoom)
Labs: Friday at 08:00-9:50 (Lab A), 12:00-13:50 (Lab B, Lab C) (online via Zoom)
Office Hours Thursday 19:00-20:00 (Aykut), Wed 16:00-17:00 (Ahmed), Friday 11:00-12:00 (Farzin), Friday 18:00-19:00 (Samet)

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
Feb 15 Introduction. Course logistics, A tour of C programs (slides) (video) (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
Feb 17 Bits and Bytes, Representing and Operating on Integers (slides) (video) (video) (code)
Assg0 out: Getting Started with Unix and C
B&O 2.2-2.3

Additional Readings:
Feb 19 Bootcamp: Programming with C and Git (slides) (video)
Feb 22 Bits and Bitwise Operators (slides) (code) B&O 2.1
Feb 24 Floating point (slides) (video) (code)
Assg0 in, Assg1 out: Manipulating Bits
B&O 2.4
Additional Reading: What Every Computer Scientist Should Know About Floating-Point Arithmetic, David Goldberg, ACM Computing Surveys, 23(1), 1991

Feb 26 Lab 1: The Linux Shell (slides) MIT MS The Shell
Stanford CS107 Unix videos 1-15, 24, 25
Mar 1 Chars and Strings in C (slides) (video) (code) K&R 1.9, 5.5, Appx B3
Mar 3 More Strings, Pointers (slides) (video) (code) K&R 1.6, 5.5, Essential C 3 (strings and string.h library functions, The mechanics of pointers and arrays)
Mar 5 Lab 2: Bits, Ints and Floats, Vim (slides) MIT MS Editors (Vim)
Stanford CS107 Unix videos 28
Mar 8 Arrays and Pointers (slides) (video) (code) K&R 5.2-5.5, Essential C 6 (Advanced pointers)
Mar 10 The Stack and The Heap (slides) (video) (code)
Assg1 in, Assg2 out: Strings in C
Mar 12 Lab 3: C-Strings and Valgrind (slides)/td> Stanford CS107 Unix videos 26
Mar 15 void *, Generics (slides) (video) (code) K&R 5.6-5.9, Essential C 6 (The Heap)
Mar 17 Function Pointers (slides) (video) (code) K&R 5.11
Mar 19 Lab 4: Arrays/Pointers and GDB (slides) Stanford CS107 Unix videos 27
Harvard CS50 short on GDB
Mar 22 const, Structures (slides) (video) (code) K&R 6.1-6.7
Mar 24 Compiling C programs (slides) (video) (code)
Assg2 in, Assg3 out: Heap Management
Stanford Unix Programming Tools 1
Mar 26 Lab 5: Structs, Working with multiple files, writing your own Makefiles (slides)
Mar 29 Introduction to x86-64, Data Movement (slides) (video) (code) B&O 3.1-3.4

Additional reading:
Mar 31 Arithmetic and Logic Operations (slides) (video) B&O 3.5-3.6
Apr 2 No labs this week
Apr 5 No class - Spring break
Apr 7 No class - Spring break
Apr 9 No lab this week - Spring break
Apr 12 x86-64 Control Flow (slides) (video) B&O 3.6.1-3.6.2
Apr 14 More Control Flow (slides) (video)
Assg3 in, Assg4 out: Defusing a Binary Bomb
B&O 3.6.3-3.6.8
Apr 16 Lab 6: Machine Programming with Assembly (slides)
Apr 19 x86-64 Procedures (slides) (video) (code) B&O 3.7
Apr 21 Data and Stack Frames (slides) (video) B&O 3.8-3.9
Apr 23 No labs this week (National Sovereignty and Children's Day)
Apr 25 Midterm Exam (Midterm Exam Guide)
Apr 26 Security Vulnerabilities (slides) (video) (code) B&O 3.10
Additional Reading: Smashing the Stack for Fun and Profit, Aleph One
Apr 28 The Memory Hierarchy (slides) (video)
Assg4 in, Assg5 out: Buffer Overflow Attacks
B&O 6.1-6.3
Apr 30 Lab 7: Runtime Stack (slides)
May 3 Cache Memories (slides) (video) (code) B&O 6.4-6.7
Cache Simulator
May 5 Debugging, Design, and Optimization (slides) (video) (code) B&O 5
May 7 Lab 8: Memory organization (slides)
May 10 No class - Ramadan Holiday
May 12 No class - Ramadan Holiday
Assg5 in, Assg6 out: Cache Memories
May 14 No labs this week
May 17 Linking (slides) (video) B&O 7
May 19 No Class (Comm. of Ataturk, Youth and Sports Day)
May 21 Lab 9: Code Optimization
May 24 Managing The Heap (slides) (video) B&O 9.9
May 26 Wrap-up, What's next (slides)
Assg6 in
May 28 No labs this week
June 6, 08:30am Final Exam