FAQ // Section
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Catalog description //
MIT Web Certificates // Grading // Collaboration // Class meetings // Staff
and Office Hours // Writing
program // Spring 2008 Class Materials (opens in new window)
MIT catalog description
Prereq.: 6.004 (and, by implication, 6.001 and 6.002)
Topics on the engineering of computer software and hardware
systems: techniques for controlling complexity; strong modularity
using client-server design, virtual memory, and threads; networks;
atomicity and coordination of parallel activities; recovery and
reliability; privacy, security, and encryption; and impact of
computer systems on society. Case studies of working systems and
readings from the current literature provide comparisons and
contrasts. Two design projects. Students engage in extensive
written communication exercises. Enrollment may be limited. 4
Engineering Design Points.
Underground Reviews (require an MIT personal certificate):
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 regularly, every couple of
days. If you hear a rumor, check it there. If you miss an
announcement, it should be in the News
MIT Web Certificates
Access to a number of documents on the course web site is
restricted to its students, using MIT Web
Certificates. Protected documents include some of the reading
materials with copyright restrictions, and the recitation/tutorial
You will receive two grades: one from the writing program (your
writing grade) and one from the 6.033 staff (your 6.033 grade),
which are combined in a final grade as
Your final grade is your 6.033 grade
unless you received lower than a B for your writing grade. If you receive
lower than a B, your final grade will be your 6.033 grade but
dropped by one letter grade.
Your 6.033 grade is based on three components: section evaluation,
design projects, and quizzes. They are weighted as follows:
6.033 grade = 25% Section Evaluation + 35% Design
Projects + 40% Quizzes
The section part of your grade reflects your overall level of
participation in recitation and tutorial as well as a series of
weekly 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. The remainder of your section grade is based
on the quality and enthusiasm of your participation, your
understanding of the papers, and on whether you handed in the
assignments, since the exercises aid your ability to discuss the
During most weeks, you will be expected to complete 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.
The final result of each of the two design projects will be an
paper in which you describe a detailed system design to solve a
real-world problem. There will be two design projects, each of
which will extend over roughly half the semester. The first will
be an individual project; the second will be done in teams of
three students from the same recitation.
The first design paper will be forwarded to the Communication
Program and graded on writing, as described in the section on writing requirements.
One of the teaching assistants' primary roles is to tie the design
projects into the topics covered in lectures and recitations. On
most Fridays, they will be teaching "tutorials" to explain the
design projects' requirements and some of the tradeoffs inherent
in the projects. Like lectures and recitations, these tutorials
are mandatory. Students are also welcome to ask questions about
the design projects during TA office hours.
A couple of weeks into each design project, you'll be asked to
hand in a short design proposal. We'll evaluate this to make sure
you're on the right track and to suggest writing improvements, but
it will only count against the project grade if you fail to hand
it in. We'll also discuss common mistakes during tutorial. Both
design project proposals will be forwarded to the writing program,
and be graded according to the description in the writing requirements section.
Two quizzes are held during the term. A third quiz (1.5 hours in
length) will be scheduled during finals week. Each quiz will focus
on a third of the class's material, but keep in mind that later
topics in 6.033 build heavily upon the earlier topics. The quizzes
count as follows: 12.5% quiz, 12.5% quiz 2, and 15% quiz 3.
Please note well: Although the formula to
calculate your final 6.033 grade appears to be linear, there are
some important non-linearities in the calculation. These
non-linearities are the three ways in which you can be sure of
getting an F in 6.033:
- Traditional method (which actually is the result of the linear
formula mentioned above): Provide convincing evidence, in the
form of exceptionally low or missing grades on quizzes and other
assignments, that you have gotten little or nothing out of the
subject. Note that if you don't regularly attend recitation and
tutorial, you will receive an F for the section
evaluation, even if you have faithfully handed in the
- Fail to turn in Design Project #1 by the last day of class.
- Fail to turn in Design Project #2 by the last day of class.
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.
Lectures will be held on Mondays and Wednesdays from 2:00pm-3:00pm
in 32-123. Recitations are on Tuesdays
and Thursdays. Friday sessions will usually be tutorials, but we use some of the Friday
hours for lectures by the staff of the M.I.T. Communication
Program, and some for quizzes. See the
schedule for the exact dates of these events.
||Morris and Madden
|Writing Program Recitations
||Caulfield, Unger, tba
||TR, section dependent
||Girod, Jackson, Newton, Zeldovich
||TR, section dependent
||Badirkhanli, Benjamin, Reid, Dowgun
These four types of sessions are all required. For the
first recitation, attend whichever one you want. After that, you
will be assigned a permanent recitation.
For details about your recitation and tutorial time and place,
consult the recitation and tutorial
Course staff mailing list:
Use this mailing list to contact
all the 6.033 staff members.
Communication Intensive Recitations
MIT faculty and department members believe
that students in any field should learn to write prose that is clear, organized, and eloquent, and to marshal facts and
ideas into convincing written and oral presentations.
MIT implemented the
Communication Requirement in 2000 in response to alumni feedback. Alumni said
that they had received an outstanding technical education at MIT but needed
more training in writing and speaking to succeed in their professional careers.
The 6.033 faculty have worked
with the MIT Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) program
for more than 10 years to design 6.033 writing and speaking assignments. We
have chosen assignments that are similar to the kinds of writing you will do in
the engineering workplace: memos, proposals, design reports, and design
To assist you in preparing for
the written assignments, several of the Friday recitations will focus on
communication instruction. At these recitations, you will receive advice on how
to write your one-page assignments, DP1 proposal, and DP1 from a Writing
Recitation instructor. Attendance to the writing recitations will be included
in your final overall recitation grade.
Your 6.033 CI Grade: Your Writing Recitation instructor will comment on and grade four of
your written assignments:
- Therac-25 written assignment (one-pager #1)
- X-windows written assignment (one-pager #2)
- Design proposal for Design Project 1 (Dp1 Proposal)
- Design Project 1 (Dp1)
The grades assigned by the writing
program will follow the descriptions given on this
The Therac-25 writing grade will
not be factored into the average for the writing component of your grade. The writing grades, Dp1 proposal, and Dp1, as well as attendance at
the writing recitation sections will constitute your 6.033 writing grade, as
(including appointments): 20%
paper: [grade noted, but not calculated in average]
If your average writing grade is
below a B, your final
grade for 6.033 will be reduced by 1 letter grade.
With permission of your Writing
Recitation instructor, you may revise your assignments to improve your grade. If you miss agreed appointments with your
instructor, your revisions may not be accepted.
According to the Communication Requirement webpage
6.033 satisfies CI-M for Course 2A, 6-1, 6-2, 6-3, 6A, 18-General, 18-Theory,
18-Applied, and 18-C. If you are not in these programs, 6.033 does not
currently satisfy the CI-M requirement for you.
If you still fall under the old
writing requirement, Phase II, you will complete the same assignments as CI-M
students. Your work will be assessed under the Phase II requirement. For further information about Phase II, please
contact Dr. Perelman at 617.253.3375.
The EECS department hands out a
few awards for excellent papers for design project 1. Outstanding Design
Projects are nominated by technical and/or writing faculty. Every submitted
design paper is eligible for an award; the final decision is made by the 6.033
and writing staff based on both technical content and writing quality.