6.033: Computer System Engineering

6.033: Computer System Engineering - Spring 2003


General Information

Catalog description // Communication // Grading // Collaboration // Class meetings // Reading materials // Staff // TA office hours // Writing practicum


MIT catalog description

Prereq.: 6.004 Prereq: (and, by implication, 6.001 and 6.002)
U (2)

Topics on the engineering of computer software and hardware systems: techniques for controlling complexity; hard modularity; networks and distributed systems; atomicity and coordination of parallel activities; recovery and reliability; privacy of information; impact of computer systems on society. Case studies of working systems and outside reading in the current literature provide comparisons and contrasts. Two design projects. Enrollment may be limited. 4 Engineering Design Points.

Underground Reviews (require an MIT personal certificate): 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002



For announcements and assignments, the Web is our authoritative form of communication. We expect students to check the 6.033 home page for both news and assignments at least once a week. If you hear a rumor, check it there. If you miss an announcement, it should be in the News Archive.


Grading Policy

Grades in 6.033 are based on three components: recitation evaluation, design projects, and quizzes. They are weighted as follows:

Final grade = 1/3 Recitation Evaluation + 1/3 Design Projects + 1/3 Quizzes

Recitation Evaluation. The recitation part of your grade reflects your overall level of participation in recitation as well as a series of weekly one-page written reports and hands-on projects that support recitation. Section instructors will base at least half of the evaluation on your communication skills: oral communication skills as observed in recitation paper discussions in class and written communication skills as evaluated by your instructor and your teaching assistant. (As the new Communication Requirement phases in over the next three years, the writing evaluation staff will begin reporting writing grades back to the 6.033 staff, and those grades will also be taken into account.) The remainder of your recitation grade is based on the quality and enthusiasm of your participation, your understanding of the papers, and on whether you handed in the one-page reports and hands-on assignments, since those exercises aid your ability to discuss the papers.

In most weeks you are expected to complete two assignments. The first is a short reading report, called a "one-pager." A one-pager is a (one page) written report due at the beginning of every Tuesday recitation. The specific topic to be addressed in the report is given on the previous week's assignment page. In recitation you should be prepared to talk about the whole paper, not just the particular point addressed in the one-pager. Note that we strictly adhere to the single-side, one-page limit. This limit forces you to prioritize your ideas and write concisely.

The second weekly assignment is a hands-on experiment that requires a computer, usually an Athena workstation, and sometimes using the Web. The idea is to reinforce some of the abstract concepts from the lectures or papers that week and find out how things really work. These assignments generally do not require programming.

Design Projects. These are two 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. Design projects are handed out about two weeks before they are due. The first design project is done individually; the second design project is done in teams (the members of a team must have the same recitation instructor).

Quizzes. Two quizzes are held during the term, a third quiz is scheduled during finals week.

Non-linearities. Note well: Although the Final Grade formula appears to be linear, there are two important non-linearities in the 6.033 grade calculation. (1) You must hand in both design projects to pass 6.033. If you don't hand in both of them, you will receive an F for the subject as a whole. (2) If you don't regularly attend recitation, you will receive an F for the recitation evaluation, even if you have faithfully handed in the one-pagers and hands-on projects.



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.


Class meetings

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

The registrar's schedule reserves Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 2 p.m. for 6.033. We use some, but not all, of the Friday hours for special events. The most notable special events are two one-hour quizzes, scheduled for Friday March 8 and Friday April 19. Other special events are lectures by staff of the M.I.T. Writing Program, on February 8 and March 15. 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. Reserve the Friday hour in your calendar, even though it isn't going to be used every week; make sure the reservation is clearly marked for the two quiz dates.

   Time   Location   Instructor   TA  
Lecture    MW2 34-101 Kaashoek and Lampson
Special lectures    F2 34-101
Recitations: (#1)   TR10   34-303   Lynch   Muthitacharoen
          (#10)   TR10   36-155   Horn   Bohdi
          (#2)   TR11   34-303   Lynch   Li
          (#6)   TR11   34-302   Nagpal   Bohdi
          (#11)   TR11   36-155   Horn   Muthitacharoen
          (#5)    TR12   34-303   Nagpal   Li
          (#3)    TR1   38-136   Jackson   Krevat
          (#7)   TR1   34-303   Saltzer   Dabek
          (#8)    TR1   34-302   Rinard   Laas
          (#4)    TR2   38-136   Jackson   Dabek
          (#9)    TR2   34-303   Saltzer   Laas
          (#12)    TR2   36-155   Rinard   Krevat


Reading materials

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

1. Brooks, Frederick P. The Mythical Man-Month, Addison-Wesley, 1995. (ISBN 0-201-83595-9, paperback)

2. Readings and class notes for 6.033: a packet of stuff available from the EECS instrument room for TBA. 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. A paper from this packet will be assigned for each recitation meeting (see schedule for details). The papers should be read prior to the section meeting. For most lectures we will assign a section of the class notes to accompany the presented material. You will also find the notes helpful in preparing for quizzes.

3. Coupon: Included in the reading list, you will find a coupon for a second installment of notes. We don't know yet if there will be a second installment, but if there is, this coupon will entitle you to pick it up at no extra charge.



Frans Kaashoek   NE43-522   x3-7149   kaashoek (at) mit (dot) edu
Butler Lampson   NE43-535   x3-xxxx   blampson@microsoft.com
Jerry Saltzer   NE43-513   x3-6016   Saltzer (at) mit (dot) edu
Berthold K. P. Horn   NE43V   x3-5863   bkph (at) ai (dot) mit (dot) edu
Nancy Lynch   NE43-365   x3-7225   lynch (at) theory (dot) lcs (dot) mit (dot) edu
Daniel Jackson   NE43-513   x8-8471   dnj (at) mit (dot) edu
Martin Rinard   NE43-620a   x8-6922   martin (at) mit (dot) edu
Radhika Nagpal   NE43-432   x3-6778   radhi (at) ai (dot) mit (dot) edu
Teaching assistants

Frank Dabek   NE43-520a   x8-6277   fdabek (at) mit (dot) edu
Elie Krevat   NE43-521b   x3-7328   krevat (at) mit (dot) edu  
Chris Lesniewski-Laas   NE43-530   x3-0004   ctl
Athicha Muthitachareon   NE43-521c   x3-6042   athicha (at) lcs (dot) mit (dot) edu
Jinyang Li   NE43-520   x3-5261   jinyang (at) mit (dot) edu
Nissanka Bodhi Priyantha (Bodhi)   NE43-503   x3-4731   bodhi@lcs.mit.edu
Course secretary
Neena Lyall   NE43-523   3-6019   lyall (at) lcs (dot) mit (dot) edu

Course TAs mailing list: 6.033-tas (at) mit (dot) edu
Use this mailing list to contact all the 6.033 TAs.

Course staff mailing list: 6.033-staff (at) mit (dot) edu
Use this mailing list to contact all the 6.033 staff members.


TA office hours

All office hours will be held in the lounge in the 5th floor of LCS unless otherwise noted.
TAs will also be available by appointment.

Monday 4:00-5:00Dabek
Wednesday 1:00-2:00Muthitacharoen
Wednesday 3:00-4:00Lesniewski-Laas
Wednesday 4:00-5:00Li
Friday 3:00-4:00Bodhi
Friday 4:00-5:00Elie


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 your paper for design project I, if your 6.033 grade is a B or better and which contains at least ten pages clearly identified as having been written by you. Assuming the evaluator in the Writing Program likes your stuff, you will receive credit for Phase II of the M.I.T. writing requirement. For more information, see the description.

2. The staff of the Writing Program will offer several 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 the practicum web site for more information.

3. Sophomores are subject to the new Communication Requirement rather than the old Writing Requirement. The details are still being worked out, but the mechanics are expected to be very similar--we will forward your first writing assignment and your first design project writeup for evaluation. The difference is that, rather than passing phase 2, the Communication Requirement writing evaluation staff will assign a grade to your writing, and your instructor will factor that grade into your recitation performance grade, as described above under "Grading policy". In addition, the writing evaluator may ask you to revise and resubmit your writeups.


Questions or comments regarding 6.033? Send e-mail to the TAs at 6.033-tas@mit.edu.
Questions or comments about this web page? Send e-mail to 6.033-webmaster@mit.edu.

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