1. On-line information and handouts

Information about 6.033 is available online on the Web at the URL

6.033 will attempt to avoid paper and publish all handouts electronically. Handouts will be available on the Web, as well as in the 6.033 locker on Athena. On the Web, each handout will be provided in a form that can be read by any browser, as well as in PostScript. On Athena, type "add 6.033; cd /mit/6.033/handouts".

We expect you to check the 6.033 home page regularly, since all assignments and late-breaking 6.033 news will be disseminated through it.

2. Staff


Frans Kaashoek NE43-522 3-7149


Dawson Engler NE43-520 3-7436 Nancy Lynch NE43-365 3-7225 Jerry Saltzer NE43-513 3-6016 Liuba Shrira NE43-532 3-6101 Gerald Sussman NE43-428 3-5874 Steve Ward NE43-624 3-6036 Teaching assistants Pratip Banerji N/A N/A Matthew Lau N/A N/A Scott MacGregor N/A N/A Costa Sapuntzakis NE43-521c 3-5983 Jiri Schindler NE43-414 3-3510 Dan Winship E40-342 3-4261 Course secretary Neena Lyall NE43-523 3-6019

3. Lectures

Lectures will be held on Monday and Wednesday from 2 to 3pm in 34-101.

The registrar's schedule shows additional lectures on Friday from 2 to 3 pm. That isn't exactly what we have planned; we reserved the Friday hours for special events. The most notable special events are three one-hour QUIZZES, scheduled for March 7, April 18, and May 14. Other special events are lectures by staff of the M.I.T. Writing Program, on February 7 and March 14. Sometimes we discover that an interesting visitor can be cajoled into giving us a guest lecture, in which case we will schedule it on Friday. And, finally, if winter gets any worse and we encounter a week of snowed-out lectures, we may try to get back on schedule by using the Friday lecture hour. The message here is: reserve that block in your calendar, even though it isn't going to be used every week; make sure the reservation is clearly marked for the three quiz dates.

The handout "6.033 At a Glance, Spring Term, 1997" summarizes all these events and more.

4. Recitation sections

The recitation sections are currently scheduled as follows, but don't be surprised if some last-minute changes are needed. Section numbers are in parentheses.

	(#1)	TR10	34-303	Lynch/Banerji	(#9)	TR1	34-302	Ward/MacGregor
	(#7)	TR11	34-302	Engler/Winship	(#8)	TR1	34-303	Saltzer/Schindler
	(#2)	TR11	34-303	Lynch/Lau	(#11)	TR1	36-153	Shrira/Winship
	(#12)	TR11	13-1143	Shrira/Banerji	(#5)	TR2	36-156	Ward/Schindler
	(#6)	TR12	34-303	Engler/Lau	(#4)	TR2	26-302	Sussman/MacGregor
	(#3)	TR1	26-302	Sussman/Sapuntzakis
	(#10)	TR2	34-303	Saltzer/Sapuntzakis

Go to the section you were assigned by the registrar, or the one that fits with the rest of your schedule. We will figure out where you are, and also whether or not we need to ask you to attend a different section to get things balanced better. However, try and pick a section with an instructor you have not had before. Note that recitations in 6.033 are deliberately smaller than average, because they consist of free-form discussion.

5. Textbooks and readings

There are four things you need to have in order to accomplish the reading assignments in 6.033.

  1. Tanenbaum, Andrew S. Modern Operating Systems, Prentice-Hall, 1992. (ISBN 0-13-588187-0)

  2. Brooks, Frederick P. The Mythical Man-Month, Addison-Wesley, 1975. (ISBN 0-201-00650-2, paperback)
    These are available at the Coop and at Quantum Books. Last year, Quantum was cheaper.

  3. Ward, Stephen, and Halstead, Robert. Computation Structures, McGraw-Hill, 1989.
    This is the text you used in 6.004. If you have already sold your copy to someone else, don't panic. We will be assigning just one chapter from it, and if necessary you should be able to borrow one from a friend or find it in a library to get through that assignment.

  4. Readings for 6.033, a packet of stuff available from the EECS instrument room.
    Follow this procedure to get the packet: Pick up a coupon sheet (copies handed out at the first recitation and available from the course secretary), fill it in, and take it together with cash or check to the cashier's office, 10-180. They will give you a receipt, which you can exchange for the reading packet in room 38-501 between 10 AM and 8 PM. We may make a second packet later in the term, so keep track of the coupon you find on the first one. It entitles you to an update packet if we issue one.

6. Assignments and Grades

Grades in 6.033 will be based on the results of three quizzes, about a dozen weekly one-page written reports, at least two written case studies, and your participation in recitation. There will not be a final examination.

Each week, you will be asked to address a question pertaining to one of the reading assignments. Your response should be a one-page written essay. Our emphasis in evaluating these essays is on essential issues, not technical details. Your ability to explain clearly the significance of the paper (in the context of the question) is what matters.

The case studies are longer, 8-10 page papers in which you engage in a design exercise or consider a question in more depth than the weekly reading reports allow. Case studies will be handed out about two weeks before they are due. The first case study will be done individually; the second case study may be done in teams.

Since an important part of 6.033 is discussion of current literature, your recitation participation will influence your grade significantly -- so significantly that we hesitate to try to assign weights to the individual components such as quizzes and case studies. Everything is important; your recitation instructor will assign your final grade based on her personal assessment of what you got out of the course, integrating all the methods of evaluation he can think of.

7. The 6.033 Lab: Hacking Real Systems

This term, 6.033 is offering a 6-unit elective lab (6.906) designed to provide students with hands-on experience with the concepts taught in 6.033. The lab consists of three projects: a web server, a reliable network protocol, and a file system. All the programming will be done in C so fluency in C (or C++) is a must. The lab will be run on Athena in the UNIX environment.

If you would like to understand computer systems in detail and acquire practical knowledge in building computer systems, know C, and have time to earn another 6 credits, you should consider enrolling in the lab. If you are taking 6.033 only because of its reading and writing components, you should not enroll. You do not need to take the lab to do well in 6.033.

To sign up for the lab, just mark yourself as interested on the recitation preferences handout. We may have to limit enrollment in the lab due to limited teaching resources, so please wait before registering for 6.906. For more information check out the "6.033 Lab Overview" handout. Note that the lab will not satisfy the Institute or department lab requirements.

Any questions regarding the lab should be sent to the lab TA, Costa Sapuntzakis (

8. Collaboration

Our policy is simple, based on professional standards: On quizzes you should not collaborate. On all other assignments you are welcome to work with anyone else on ideas and understanding, but your writing should be your own and you should carefully acknowledge all contributions of ideas by others, whether from classmates or from papers you have read.

9. The Writing Requirement, Phase II

Since 6.033 is one of the few Course VI subjects that asks students to hand in assignments containing complete sentences in the English language, the M.I.T. Writing Program takes a special interest. This interest will take two forms this term:

  1. We will forward a copy of your first weekly writing assignment to the Writing Program for evaluation and comment. (These comments usually come back about three weeks later.) In addition, if you ask us to, we will forward to the Writing Program any case study on which your 6.033 grade is a B or better and which contains at least ten pages clearly identified as having been written by you. (The second case study may be a team effort, in which case you may have to volunteer to be the team scribe if you want to take advantage of this option.) Assuming the evaluator in the Writing Program likes your stuff, you will receive credit for Phase II of the M.I.T. writing requirement.

  2. The staff of the Writing Program will offer up to five sections of a 6.033 writing practicum. If you are a student in course 6 and receive a B- or higher in the practicum, you will receive credit for Phase II. Check out for more info.


6.033 Handout 1, issued 2/2/97