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
Alex Ayala (aayala4@nd.edu)
Office Hours
TH 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Office Location
Engineering Library
Teaching Assistant
Jacob Beiter (jbeiter@nd.edu)
Office Hours
W 8:15 - 9:45 PM
Office Location
Innovation Lounge (1st Floor Duncan)
Teaching Assistant
Patricia "Happy" Hale (phale1@nd.edu)
Office Hours
TH 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Office Location
Innovation Lounge (1st Floor Duncan)
Teaching Assistant
John Johnson (jjohns48@nd.edu)
Office Hours
TH 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM, SU 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Office Location
Innovation Lounge (1st Floor Duncan)
Teaching Assistant
Alison Lui (alui@nd.edu)
Office Hours
M, W 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Office Location
Innovation Lounge (1st Floor Duncan)
Teaching Assistant
Kyle Miller (kmille42@nd.edu)
Office Hours
M 9:00 PM - 11:00 PM
Office Location
Innovation Lounge (1st Floor Duncan)
Teaching Assistant
Grace Milton (gmilton@nd.edu)
Office Hours
TH 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Office Location
Innovation Lounge (1st Floor Duncan)
Teaching Assistant
Aman "Register" Mital (amital@nd.edu)
Office Hours
T 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM, W 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Office Location
Engineering Library
Teaching Assistant
Conor Nailos (cnailos@nd.edu)
Office Hours
F 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
Office Location
Innovation Lounge (1st Floor Duncan)
Teaching Assistant
Madalyn Schulte (mschult4@nd.edu)
Office Hours
TH 7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Office Location
Innovation Lounge (1st Floor Duncan)
Teaching Assistant
Bill Theisen (wtheisen@nd.edu)
Office Hours
W, F 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Office Location
350 Fitzpatrick Hall
Teaching Assistant
Ethan Williams (ewilli23@nd.edu)
Office Hours
M 9:30 PM - 11:00 PM
Office Location
Innovation Lounge (1st Floor Duncan)
Unit Date Topics Assignment
Introduction 01/17 Introduction, Syllabus, Shell Slides Slides
01/19 Git, Markdown Slides Reading 00
Bourne Shell
Using The Shell 01/22 MLK Celebration Luncheon Reading 01
01/24 Files Slides
01/26 Processes, I/O Redirection Slides Slides Homework 01
Scripting The Shell 01/29 Networking Slides Reading 02
01/31 Bourne Shell Slides
02/02 Bourne Shell Homework 02
Filtering Text 02/05 Regular Expressions Slides Reading 03
02/07 Filters
02/09 Filters Homework 03
Scraping Data 02/12 Python, Variables, Control Flow Slides Reading 04
02/14 Review
02/16 Checklist 01 Exam 01
Visualizing Data 02/19 Jupyter, Data Structures, Files, Regular Expressions, Requests Reading 05
02/21 Matplotlib, CSV, JSON, HTML, Widgets
02/23 Processes, Modules, OOP Homework 04
Processing Data 02/26 Functional Programming Slides Reading 06
02/28 Iterators, Generators, Multiprocessing Slides
03/02 Map-Reduce Slides Homework 05
Fury + Hulk 03/05 Distributed Computing Slides
03/07 Review Reading 07
03/09 Checklist 02 Exam 02
Spring Break
Pointers, Arrays, Strings 03/19 Compiling, Building, I/O Slides Reading 08
03/21 Pointers, Arrays, Strings Slides
03/23 Debugging (GDB, Valgrind) Slides Homework 06
Dynamic Memory 03/26 Memory Allocation Slides Reading 09
03/28 Structs, Unions Slides
03/30 Easter
Data Representation 04/02 Easter
04/04 Data Representation Slides
04/06 Bitsets Slides Homework 07
System Calls
Files 04/09 I/O Slides Reading 10
04/11 Files
04/13 Directories Homework 08
Processes 04/16 Processes Slides Reading 11
04/18 Pipes
04/20 Signals Homework 09
Sockets 04/23 Sockets Slides Reading 12
04/25 TCP
04/27 HTTP
Thor + Spidey 04/30 VPS Slides
05/02 Divine Comedy
05/04 Reading Day Project
Final 05/07 Checklist 03 Exam 03


Component Points
Readings Weekly reading assignments. 11 × 4
Homeworks Weekly homework assignments. 5 × 10, 4 × 15
Projects Final group project. 20
Exams Midterm and Final Exams. 30 + 36 + 60
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 195-209 F 0-194

Due Dates

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

  • Readings are due by noon on the Monday of the assigned week.

  • Homeworks are due by noon on the Saturday of the assigned week.

  • Projects are due by noon on the Saturday of the assigned week.



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.

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.

Academic Honesty

Any academic misconduct in this course is considered a serious offense, and the strongest possible academic penalties will be pursued for such behavior. Students may discuss high-level ideas with other students, but at the time of implementation (i.e. programming), each person must do his/her own work. Use of the Internet as a reference is allowed but directly copying code or other information is cheating. It is cheating to copy, to allow another person to copy, all or part of an exam or a assignment, or to fake program output. It is also a violation of the Undergraduate Academic Code of Honor to observe and then fail to report academic dishonesty. You are responsible for the security and integrity of your own work.

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, a late penalty, as determined by the instructor, will be assessed to any late submission of an assignment. In general, the late penality is 25% off for less than a week and 50% off for more than a week. The instructor reserves the right to refuse any unexcused late work.

Classroom Recording

Notre Dame has implemented a 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.

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.

CSE Guide to the Honor Code

For the assignments in this class, you may discuss with other students and consult printed and online resources. You may quote from books and online sources as long as you cite them properly. However, you may not look at another student's solution, and you may not look at solutions.

For further guidance please refer to the CSE Honor Code or ask the instructor.


The Linux Command Line

William Shotts Online Version

Automate the Boring Stuff with Python

Al Sweigart Online Version

Operating Systems: Three Easy Pieces

Remzi Arpaci-Dusseau, Andrea Arpaci-Dusseau Online Version