University of Malta

Study-Unit Description
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TITLE Operating Systems

LEVEL 01 - Year 1 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT Computer Science

DESCRIPTION Operating Systems exert a major influence on the overall function of the entire computer. Their performance sets the stage for the performance of all software on a computer. As a computer scientist, one needs to understand how to use the system functionality most effectively; specifically the design of an OS must be understood such that one would be able to exploit that design during program execution.

Study-unit Aims

The aim of this study-unit is to discuss the issues involved in designing a general purpose multi-programmed operating system, and to enable students to understand and interact with the internals of an operating system. The unit covers topics such as the role of an operating system in providing a process abstraction, CPU scheduling, inter-process communication and synchronisation, memory management, virtual memory, file system facilities, I/O device handling, as well as adequate security and protection.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- Define the necessary components and functions of an OS.
- Describe how OS have evolved over time from primitive batch systems to sophisticated multiuser time-shared systems.
- Compare and contrast the various ways of structuring an OS.
- Differentiate between processes and threads.
- Describe reasons for using interrupts, dispatching and context switching to support concurrency in an OS.
- Discuss the types of scheduling (short-term, medium-term and long-term).
- List the range of mechanisms that can be employed at OS level to realise concurrent systems and describe the benefits and potential problems of each.
- Demonstrate understanding of classic concurrent programming problems.
- Describe the different ways of allocating memory to tasks.
- Explain the concept of virtual memory (paging and segmentation).
- Discuss the concepts of trashing both in terms of its occurrence and the techniques used to mitigate the problem.
- Discuss the principles of I/O.
- Describe local file systems and directory structures.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings

- Operating System Concepts. A. Silberschatz, P. Galvin and G. Gagne. Addison Wesley. ISBN 0470233990.



Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Examination (3 Hours) Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Joshua Ellul

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2017/8, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.
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