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Computer Systems and Programming (2020 - 2021)

Teacher: Giorgio Richelli - giorgio.richelli@uniroma1.it

Class Timetable

Monday h.12:00/13.30 - Aula G50

Tuesday h.14:00/16:30 - Aula G50

Lectures will start on Sept. 28th (monday)

Streaming will be available via Google Meet or Zoom (TBD).

The URL, and other communications related to this course, will be sent through the group CSAP 2020 (https://groups.google.com/a/uniroma1.it/d/forum/csap-2020), interested students are invited to join.

Office Hours

By previous appointment, before or after the lessons


Please contact me (email) for any question/clarification.

Code Samples & Slides


The course is mainly focused on system programming for Unix (Linux) systems.

The objective is to make students able to understand, write and modify, programs interfacing with the Linux operating system and its kernel source code.

So, it is assumed that attendees are able to write programs (using some language) and have a basic kwowledge of the main components of a modern operating system, such as Linux.

Each student should have access to a Linux system (a VM is ok), including the compiler, development tools (make, debugger, etc) and man pages.

Working on other devices, such as Mac or Windows laptop, while possible, it is not recommended due to suble differences in the compiler suite and OS interface.


The evaluation will be carried out, during the course, through tests quizzes on C and with short programs developed by the students in the classroom.

At the end of the course, the students will be able to accept the result obtained with these tests and verbalize, perhaps after an oral discussion.

As an alternative, or if the result of the tests is not considered acceptable, a complete individual project, written in C, should be developed on topics pertaining the arguments seen during the course.

Thus, there are two options:

  • Pass the midterms (plus, perhaps, an oral discussion)
  • Complete the project (as described in the dedicated section). The project (sources and documentation) must be sent by email a few days (5-7) before the date of the exam.
Write/contact me for any doubts, information, etc.


The project is an individual work item, which must include appropriate documentation (Use cases, functional and non functional requirements, etc).

Each academic year will have a different project.


During the course, there will be a number (three or perhaps four) tests, in order to check the knowledge acquired during the lessons.

The score obtained for the tests will be part of the final evaluation and could completely substitute the project (see the above section).


These are the topics that are planned to be described during the course.Of course mileage may vary, depending on time available, etc.

  • Programming environment: compiler, make & makefiles, gdb debugger
  • Recap of the C programming language: variables, costants, operators, expressions, control instructions, functions, pointers, arrays, structures & unions, preprocessor directives
  • Operating system basics (Linux): processes, filesystem, inter-process communication primitives (signals, pipes, semaphores, shared memory)
  • Thread programming: pthread management, mutual exclusion, synchronization
  • Network programming: sockets, raw sockets, sniffers
  • Software vulnerabilities: buffer overflows, heap corruption, pointer subterfuge, etc.


  • Daniel P. Bovet, Marco Cesati: Understanding the Linux Kernel
  • Brian Kernighan, Dennis Ritchie: The C Programming Language (2nd Ed.)

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Topic revision: r64 - 2020-09-18 - GiorgioRichelli

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