CSE 20289 is a core Computer Science and Engineering course at the University of Notre Dame that explores the fundamentals of computing systems. This course introduces students to the Unix programming environment where they will explore various command line utilities, files, processes, memory management, system calls, data structures, networking, and concurrency. Examining these topics will enable students to become familiar and comfortable with the lower level aspects of computing, while providing the foundation for further study in subsequent systems courses such as computer architecture and operating systems.

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Utilize unix commands to navigate filesystems, edit files, manage processes, explore system and network properties, produce documents and plots, and manipulate multimedia files.

  2. Employ Unix development tools to compile, link, build, debug, trace, profile, and test software applications.

  3. Compose shell scripts to automate tasks.

  4. Construct regular expressions and small programs to filter and process a variety of datasets.

  5. Develop basic Python scripts that process data and orchestrate processes.

  6. Manage memory and other system resources manually and utilize tools to help debug and profile applications.

  7. Utilize basic system calls to create processes that interact with each other via various forms of inter-process communication such as files, pipes, and sockets.

  8. Discuss the core tenets of the "Unix Philosophy" and how it is applied to modern software development.

Class Information

M/W/F 12:50 PM - 1:40 PM
102 DeBartolo Hall
Mailing List (Class)
Mailing List (Staff)


Peter Bui (pbui@nd.edu)
Office Hours
M/W/F 2:00 PM - 4:30 PM, and by appointment
Office Location
350 Fitzpatrick Hall

Help Protocol

  1. Think
  2. Slack
  3. Think
  4. Email
  5. Think
  6. Office

Teaching Assistants

Teaching Assistant
Royce Branning (rbrannin@nd.edu)
Office Hours
W 8:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Office Location
Innovation Lab (LaFortune Basement)
Teaching Assistant
Mimi Chen (mchen6@nd.edu)
Office Hours
SU 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Office Location
Engineering Library
Teaching Assistant
Pierce Cunneen (pcunneen@nd.edu)
Office Hours
TH 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Office Location
Innovation Lab (LaFortune Basement)
Teaching Assistant
Courtney Kelly (ckelly19@nd.edu)
Office Hours
SU 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM
Office Location
Innovation Lab (LaFortune Basement)
Teaching Assistant
Dan Kerrigan (dkerriga@nd.edu)
Office Hours
TH 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Office Location
Innovation Lab (LaFortune Basement)
Teaching Assistant
Ryan Michalec (rmichale@nd.edu)
Office Hours
TH 7:30 PM - 10:30 PM
Office Location
Engineering Library
Teaching Assistant
Brad Sherman (bsherma1@nd.edu)
Office Hours
T 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Office Location
Innovation Lab (LaFortune Basement)
Teaching Assistant
Charles Shinaver (cshinave@nd.edu)
Office Hours
T 4:30 PM - 6:30 PM
Office Location
Engineering Library
Teaching Assistant
Ryan Smick (rsmick@nd.edu)
Office Hours
W 7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Office Location
Innovation Lab (LaFortune Basement)
Teaching Assistant
Bill Theisen (wtheisen@nd.edu)
Office Hours
W 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM, F 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
Office Location
Innovation Lab (LaFortune Basement)
Teaching Assistant
Maggie Thomann (mthomann@nd.edu)
Office Hours
SU 8:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Office Location
Teaching Assistant
Nick Ward (nward3@nd.edu)
Office Hours
T, TH 3:30 PM - 4:30 PM
Office Location
Engineering Library

Unit Date Topics Assignment
Introduction 01/17 Introduction, Syllabus, Shell Slides Slides
01/19 Git, Markdown Slides Reading 00
Bourne Shell
Using The Shell 01/23 MLK Celebration Luncheon Slides Reading 01
01/25 Files Slides
01/27 Processes, I/O Redirection Slides Slides Homework 01
Scripting The Shell 01/30 Networking Slides Reading 02
02/01 Bourne Shell Language Slides
02/03 Bourne Shell Language Homework 02
Filtering Text 02/06 Regular Expressions Slides Reading 03
02/08 Filters
02/10 Filters Homework 03
Generating Documents 02/13 LaTeX / GNU Plot Slides
02/15 Review Reading 04
02/17 Checklist 01 Exam 01
Scraping The Web 02/20 Python Language Slides Reading 05
02/22 Regular Expressions, Filesystem, Processes
02/24 Requests, JSON Homework 04
Processing Data 02/27 Functional Programming Slides (Charles) Slides
03/01 Generators, Multiprocessing Slides Reading 06
03/03 MapReduce Slides
03/06 HTCondor, Work Queue Slides
03/08 Review Homework 05
03/10 Checklist 02 Exam 02
Spring Break
Arrays, Pointers, Strings 03/20 Compiler, Building, I/O Slides Reading 07
03/22 Pointers, Arrays, Strings
03/24 Debugging, Tricks Homework 06
Dynamic Memory 03/27 Memory Allocation Slides Reading 08
03/29 Structs, Linked Lists
03/31 Sorting Homework 07
Data Representation 04/03 Data Representation, Unions Slides Reading 09
04/05 Hashing, Hash Tables
04/07 Profiling Homework 08
System Calls
Files 04/10 I/O, Files Slides Reading 10
04/12 Directories
04/14 Easter
Processes 04/17 Easter
04/19 Fork / Exec Slides
04/21 Signals Project 01
Sockets 04/24 TCP Slides Reading 11
04/26 HTTP
04/28 Thor, Spidey
05/01 VPS Slides
Final 05/03 Closing Time Slides
05/05 Reading day Project 02
05/12 Checklist 03 Exam 03


Component Points
Readings Weekly reading assignments and corresponding writing prompts. 10 × 4
Homeworks Weekly programming homework assignments. 8 × 15
Projects Group programming projects. 2 × 20
Exams Periodic examinations, covering material discussed in class. 2 × 25 + 50
Total 300


Grade Points Grade Points Grade Points
A 280-300 A- 270-279
B+ 260-269 B 250-259 B- 240-249
C+ 230-239 C 220-229 C- 210-219
D 180-209 F 0-179

Due Dates

All your Readings, Challenges, and Projects are to be submitted to your own private GitLab repository. Unless otherwise specified:

  • Readings are due at midnight on the night before the day assigned in the schedule above (ie. Sunday → Monday).
  • Homeworks are due at midnight on the night the day assigned in the schedule above (ie. Friday→ Saturday).
  • Projects are due at midnight on the night the day assigned in the schedule above (ie. Friday→ Saturday).



Students are expected to attend and contribute regularly in class. This means answering questions in class, participating in discussions, and helping other students.

Foreseeable absences should be discussed with the instructor ahead of time.

Classroom Recording

Notre Dame has implemented an Echo360 classroom recording system. This system allows us to record and distribute lectures to you in a secure environment. You can watch these recordings on your computer, tablet, or smartphone. The recordings can be accessed within Sakai. Look for the tool labeled "Echo360 ALP" on the left hand side of the course.

Because we will be recording in the classroom and/or using an active learning environment, your questions and comments may be recorded. (Video recordings typically only capture the front of the classroom.) If you have any concerns about your voice or image being recorded, please speak to me to determine an alternative means of participating. No content will be shared with individuals outside of your course without your permission except for faculty and staff that need access for support or specific academic purposes.

These recordings are jointly copyrighted by the University of Notre Dame and your instructor. Posting them to other websites, including YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, or elsewhere without express, written permission may result in disciplinary action and possible civil prosecution.

Late Work

In the case of a serious illness or other excused absence, as defined by university policies, coursework submissions will be accepted late by the same number of days as the excused absence.

Otherwise, there is a penalty of 25% per day late (except where noted). You may submit some parts of an assignment on time and some parts late. Each submission must clearly state which parts it contains; no part can be submitted more than once.

Honor Code

All work that you submit must be your own. Collaboration is encouraged but must be disclosed by all parties. Print or online resources are allowed, but must be disclosed. However, you may not look at solutions from other current or past students, or any other source.

Students with Disabilities

Any student who has a documented disability and is registered with Disability Services should speak with the professor as soon as possible regarding accommodations. Students who are not registered should contact the Office of Disabilities.


The Linux Command Line

William Shotts Online Version