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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 - 1:50 PM
200 Washington Hall
Zoom Meeting
952 4843 9312
Mailing List (Class)
Mailing List (Staff)


Peter Bui (
Office Hours (In-Person)
M/W/F 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM, and by appointment
Office Hours (Online)
T/TH 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM, and by appointment
Office Location
326D Cushing Hall

Help Protocol

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

Teaching Assistants

Teaching Assistant
Sam Battalio (
Teaching Assistant
Joshua Cepeda (
Teaching Assistant
Joe Delle Donne (
Teaching Assistant
Michael Eisemann (
Teaching Assistant
Zephan Enciso (
Teaching Assistant
Paul Gierl (
Teaching Assistant
Frank Gomulka (
Teaching Assistant
Gavin Inglis (
Teaching Assistant
Michael Lee (
Teaching Assistant
Eamon Lopez Marmion (
Teaching Assistant
Nolan McShea (
Teaching Assistant
Greta Rauch (
Teaching Assistant
Emory Smith (
Teaching Assistant
Matt Tressler (
Teaching Assistant
Nora Tucker (
Teaching Assistant
Tanner Waltz (
Teaching Assistant
Christina Youn (

Office Hours

Online Office Hours

Online office hours for the teaching assistants will take place in Zoom Meeting 916 0683 5006. Please use the main session for general questions. If you have an individual question, then request a private breakout room with one of the teaching assistants.

If you need more individualized attention, please contact the instructor to schedule an appointment.

Unit Date Topics Assignments
Introduction Wed 02/03 Syllabus, Unix Shell Slides Slides Panopto
Fri 02/05 Git Slides Panopto Reading 00
Unit 01: Bourne Shell
Using the Shell Mon 02/08 Files Slides Panopto Reading 01
Wed 02/10 Processes, I/O Redirection Slides Slides Panopto
Fri 02/12 Networking Slides Panopto
Sat 02/13 Command Line Adventure Homework 01
Shell Scripting Mon 02/15 Variables, Command Substitution, Matching Slides Panopto Reading 02
Wed 02/17 Control Flow, Command Line Arguments Panopto
Fri 02/19 Pipelines Slides Panopto
Sat 02/20 Meeting the Oracle Homework 02
Text Filtering Mon 02/22 Regular Expressions Slides Panopto Reading 03
Wed 02/24 Filters Panopto
Fri 02/26 Filters Panopto
Sat 02/27 Weathering with Zipcodes Homework 03
Exam 01 Mon 03/01 Review Panopto Reading 04
Wed 03/03 Python Scripting Slides Panopto
Fri 03/05 Exam 01 Checklist 01
Unit 02: Python
Python Scripting Mon 03/08 Functions, Doctests, Lists Slides Panopto Reading 05
Wed 03/10 Strings, Dictionaries Panopto
Fri 03/12 I/O, Processes, Requests, Regular Expressions Panopto
Sat 03/13 RPN, Unique Homework 04
Data Processing Mon 03/15 CSV Slides Panopto Reading 06
Wed 03/17 JSON Panopto
Fri 03/19 Functional Programming Slides Panopto
Sat 03/20 Reddit and CSE Demographics Homework 05
Functional Programming Mon 03/22 Iterators, Generators Slides Panopto Reading 07
Wed 03/24 Parallel Computing Slides Panopto
Fri 03/26 Compiling and Building Slides Notebook Panopto
Sat 03/27 Hulk Smash Homework 06
Exam 02 Mon 03/29 Review Panopto Reading 08
Wed 03/31 Exam 02 Checklist 02
Fri 04/02 Good Friday
Unit 03: C
Pointers, Arrays, Strings Mon 04/05 Pointers, Arrays, Strings Slides Notebook Panopto Reading 09
Wed 04/07 Debugging (GDB, Valgrind) Slides Notebook Panopto
Fri 04/09 Memory Allocation Slides Notebook Panopto
Sat 04/10 C-String Library Homework 07
Memory Management Mon 04/12 Structs, Unions Slides Notebook Panopto Reading 10
Wed 04/14 Linked Data Structures Slides Notebook Panopto
Fri 04/16 I/O Slides Notebook Panopto
File System Mon 04/19 Files, Directories Slides Notebook Panopto Reading 11
Wed 04/21 Mini-Break
Fri 04/23 TCP/IP, URLs, Sockets Slides Notebook Panopto
Sat 04/24 Detecting Duplicates Homework 08
Networking Mon 04/26 HTTP Client Slides Notebook Panopto Reading 12
Wed 04/28 HTTP Server Slides Notebook Panopto
Fri 04/30 Processes Slides Notebook Panopto
Processes Mon 05/03 Signals Slides Notebook Panopto Reading 13
Wed 05/05 Concurrent HTTP Server Slides Notebook Panopto
Fri 05/07 VPS Slides Panopto
Sat 05/08 Thor's Hammer Homework 09
Exam 03 Mon 05/10 Chaos Trials
Tue 05/18 Exam 03 Checklist 03


Component Points
Readings Weekly reading assignments. 10 × 4
Homeworks Weekly homework assignments. 3 × 10, 4 × 12, 2 × 16
Exams Exams covering each unit. 45, 45, 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 GitHub 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.


Recalling one of the tenets of the Hacker Ethic:

Hackers should be judged by their hacking, not criteria such as degrees, age, race, sex, or position.

Students are expected to be respectful of their fellow classmates and the instructional staff.

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 Zoom and 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 Pull 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 two Reading grades.

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.

Health and Safety Protocols

In this class, as elsewhere on campus, students must comply with all University health and safety protocols, including:

  • Face masks that completely cover the nose and mouth will be worn by all students and instructors.
  • Physical distancing will be maintained in all instructional spaces.
  • Students will sit in assigned seats throughout the semester, which will be documented by faculty for purposes of any needed contact tracing.
  • Protocols for staged entry to and exit from classrooms and instructional spaces will be followed.

We are part of a community of learning in which compassionate care for one another is part of our spiritual and social charter. Consequently, compliance with these protocols is an expectation for everyone enrolled in this course. If a student refuses to comply with the University’s health and safety protocols, the student must leave the classroom and will earn an unexcused absence for the class period and any associated assignments/assessments for the day. Persistent deviation from expected health and safety guidelines may be considered a violation of the University’s "Standards of Conduct,” as articulated in du Lac: A Guide for Student Life, and will be referred accordingly.


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