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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 commands to navigate filesystems, manipulate files, manage processes, and explore system and network resources.

  2. Compose shell scripts that combine common Unix commands with shell syntax to automate tasks.

  3. Construct regular expressions and software pipelines to filter and process a variety of datasets.

  4. Employ development tools to debug, profile, and test software applications.

  5. Build and install software from source distributions or using package managers.

  6. Compose Python scripts that employ data structures and libraries to process and manipulate data.

  7. Construct C programs that use low-level functions or system calls to allocate memory, manipulate files and directories, and communicate over sockets.

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

Class Information

M/W/F 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
Mailing List (Class)
Mailing List (Staff)


Peter Bui (
Office Hours
M/W/F 2:30 PM - 5:00 PM, and by appointment
Office Location

Help Protocol

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

Teaching Assistants

Teaching Assistant
Sam Battalio (
Teaching Assistant
Kathleen Capella (
Teaching Assistant
Joe DelleDonne (
Teaching Assistant
William Diederich (
Teaching Assistant
Michael Eisemann (
Teaching Assistant
Rosa Kim (
Teaching Assistant
Yeon Kim (
Teaching Assistant
Catherine Link (
Teaching Assistant
Ben Lyons (
Teaching Assistant
Carlos Murillo (
Teaching Assistant
Emory Smith (
Teaching Assistant
Emily Strout (
Teaching Assistant
Logan Yokum (
Teaching Assistant
Christina Youn (
Teaching Assistant
Molly Zachlin (

Office Hours

Zoom Office Hours

All teaching assistant office hours will take place in Zoom Meeting 212-189-242. Please use the main session for general questions. If you have an individual question, then request a private breakout room with a teaching assistant.

Unit Date Topics Assignments
Introduction Wed 01/15 Introduction, Syllabus, Shell Slides Slides Panopto
Fri 01/17 Git, Markdown Slides Panopto Reading 00
Bourne Shell
Using The Shell Mon 01/20 MLK Celebration Luncheon Reading 01
Wed 01/22 Files Slides Panopto
Fri 01/24 Processes, I/O Redirection Slides Slides Panopto Homework 01
Scripting The Shell Mon 01/27 Networking Slides Panopto Reading 02
Wed 01/29 Bourne Shell Slides Panopto
Fri 01/31 Bourne Shell Panopto Homework 02
Filtering Text Mon 02/03 Regular Expressions Slides Panopto Reading 03
Wed 02/05 Filters Panopto
Fri 02/07 Filters Panopto Homework 03
Exam 01 Mon 02/10 Review Panopto Reading 04
Wed 02/12 Checklist 01 Exam 01
Python Scripting Fri 02/14 Expressions, Variables, Control Flow Slides Panopto
Mon 02/17 I/O, Strings Panopto Reading 05
Wed 02/19 Lists, Dicts, Sets Panopto
Fri 02/21 Testing Panopto Homework 04
Data Processing Mon 02/24 Requests, Regular Expressions Panopto Reading 06
Wed 02/26 CSV Panopto
Fri 02/28 JSON Panopto Homework 05
Functional Programming Mon 03/02 Functional Programming Slides Panopto Reading 07
Wed 03/04 Iterators, Generators Slides Panopto
Fri 03/06 Parallel Computing Slides Panopto Homework 06
Spring Break
Processes Mon 03/23 Processes Slides Panopto Reading 08
Wed 03/25 Signals Panopto
Pointers, Arrays, Strings Fri 03/27 Compiling, Building Slides Panopto Homework 07
Mon 03/30 Pointers, Arrays, Strings Slides Panopto Reading 10
Wed 04/01 Debugging (GDB, Valgrind) Slides Panopto
Memory Management Fri 04/03 Memory Allocation Slides Panopto Homework 08
Mon 04/06 Structs, Unions Slides Panopto
Wed 04/08 Linked Data Structures Slides Panopto Reading 11
Fri 04/10 Easter
File System Mon 04/13 Easter
Wed 04/15 I/O, Files, Directories Slides Panopto
Networking Fri 04/17 HTTP Client Slides Panopto Homework 09
Mon 04/20 HTTP Server: Single, Forking Panopto Reading 12
Wed 04/22 HTTP Server: Files, Directories, CGI Panopto
Fri 04/24 VPS Slides Panopto
Mon 04/27 Something ends, Something begins Slides Panopto
Wed 04/29 Final Project Project


Component Points
Readings Weekly reading assignments. 11 × 4
Homeworks Weekly homework assignments. 3 × 10, 4 × 12, 2 × 16
Projects Collaborative group project. 26
Exams Midterm 30
Total 210


Grade Points Grade Points Grade Points
A 205-210 A- 200-204
B+ 195-199 B 190-194 B- 185-189
C+ 180-184 C 175-179 C- 170-174
D 160-169 F 0-159

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.



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, there is an automatic penalty of 25% late penalty for assignments turned in 12 hours pass the specified deadline. Note, there are opportunities for extensions as described below.

Classroom Recording

This course will be recorded using Panopto. This system allows us to automatically record and distribute lectures to you in a secure environment. You can watch these recordings on your computer, tablet, or smartphone. In the course in Sakai, look for the "Panopto" tool on the left hand side of the course.

Because we will be recording in the classroom, your questions and comments may be recorded. Recordings typically only capture the front of the classroom, but if you have any concerns about your voice or image being recorded please speak to me to discuss your concerns. Except for faculty and staff who require access, no content will be shared with individuals outside of your course without your permission.

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

Self-Service Extensions

Each Homework assignment has an associated Guru Point, which is an extra credit opportunity. To avoid a late penalty, a student may choose to forgo or give up that week's Guru Point in exchange for two more days in which the student can work on the assignment for full credit.

For instance if an assignment is due on Saturday, then the student will have until Monday to submit their work.

To take advantage of this, a student simply makes a note on the Merge Request for the assignment and refrains from getting credit for the Guru Point.

Note, there are no free extensions for Readings. Instead, students should be aware that they can drop one Reading grade.

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 copy any significant portions of other's solutions.

The following table summarizes how you may work with other students and use print/online sources:

Resources Solutions
Consulting Allowed Not Allowed
Copying Cite Not Allowed

See the CSE Guide to the Honor Code for definitions of the above terms.

If an instructor sees behavior that is, in his judgment, academically dishonest, he is required to file either an Honor Code Violation Report or a formal report to the College of Engineering Honesty Committee.


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