• Class Number 5324
  • Term Code 3260
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Shoaib Akram
    • Shoaib Akram
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 25/07/2022
  • Class End Date 28/10/2022
  • Census Date 31/08/2022
  • Last Date to Enrol 01/08/2022
    • Jon Connor
    • Nicholas Miehlbradt
    • Benjamin Gray
    • Harris Loi
SELT Survey Results

This course is based on the foundations set by the previous course on computer organisation. It expands particularly into all forms of concurrent programming including aspects of massively parallel programming.

This course introduces all basic mechanisms to analyse, design, and manage concurrent, single computer-node (multicore) as well as distributed applications (e.g. as performance or dependability enhancements).

Following on from the previous course, the fields of operating systems and networking will also be expanded on. On the operating system side aspects of security, scheduling algorithms and memory management are discussed. More specific networking aspects follow on from message passing as a core concurrency construct. These include the basics of routing and dependable protocols.


Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Model, design and program concurrent systems.
  2. Select appropriate modeling techniques, tools and mechanisms to solve a range of problems in concurrent and distributed systems. This includes the appropriate programming language and runtime environment for the task at hand.
  3. Analyse and debug concurrent programs.
  4. Understand the aspects of an operating system concerning scheduling, protection and memory management.
  5. Employ message passing locally and over networks to construct distributed systems
  6. Distinguish as well as connect conceptual concurrency with physical parallelism at all levels of a distributed system.
  7. Identify core aspects of operating systems and networks irrespective of the specific system at hand.
  8. Reflect critically on current concurrent and distributed systems tools and their limitations.

Required Resources

Computer Systems: A Programmer's Perspective, 3/E (CS:APP3e), Randal E. Bryant and David R. O'Hallaron, Carnegie Mellon University

The C Programming Language by Brian Kernighan and Dennis Ritchie, Prentice Hall Professional Technical Reference, ISBN-13: 978-0-13-110370-2.

Effective C: An Introduction to Professional C Programming, Robert C. Seacord

Whether you are on campus or studying remotely, there are a variety of online platforms you will use to participate in your study program. These could include videos for lectures and other instruction, two-way video conferencing for interactive learning, email and other messaging tools for communication, interactive web apps for formative and collaborative activities, print and/or photo/scan for handwritten work and drawings, and home-based assessment.

ANU outlines recommended student system requirements to ensure you are able to participate fully in your learning. Other information is also available about the various Learning Platforms you may use.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • written comments
  • verbal comments
  • feedback to whole class, groups, individuals, focus group etc

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). Feedback can also be provided to Course Conveners and teachers via the Student Experience of Learning & Teaching (SELT) feedback program. SELT surveys are confidential and also provide the Colleges and ANU Executive with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Introduction to computer systems. Modern computing abstraction/transformation hierarchy. Anatomy of a modern computer system with support and need for concurrency, parallelism, and networking. Machine level representation of x86 programs. Control flow. Procedures. Arrays and array indexing. Structs. Alignment. C to x86 assembly. Debugging programs with GDB.
2 Compiler optimizations. Limitations of optimizing compilers. Measuring the performance of programs. Understanding modern processors. Exploiting parallelism.
3 Memory hierarchy. Storage technologies. Disk and NAND Flash organization. Locality and its exploitation. Writing programs for modern cache hierarchies. Virtual memory. Address spaces. Address translation. Memory mapping and memory mapped I/O.
4 Basics of linking. Static and dynamic linking. Object files and their formats. Shared libraries. Position-Independent code. Processes and threads. Execution environment. Using fork and execve to run programs Assignment 1 is released
5 Dynamic memory allocation. The malloc and free functions. Allocator design and implementation. Understanding and handling fragmentation. Free list design. Allocator optimizations.
6 Automatic memory management and garbage collection. Mark-sweep and mark-compact collectors. Frameworks for implementing modern garbage collectors. Read and write barrier design. Concurrent collectors.
7 System-level I/O. Unix I/O and files. Opening and closing and manipulating files. Reading file meta-data. File sharing. Standard I/O Assignment 1 is due
8 The OS buffer cache. Buffered and direct I/O. Writing programs for sequential I/O. Performance implications of random I/O.
9 Concurrent programming with processes and threads. Synchronization primitives. Hardware and software support for writing concurrent programs. Mutexes and semaphores. Assignment 2 is released
10 Introduction to networking. The client-server programming model. The Global IP internet. The Socket interface. Web servers
11 Introduction to the Rust programming language. Rust memory management. Concurrency in Rust. Assignment 2 is due
12 Advanced topics (optional)

Tutorial Registration

Tutorial registration will be via an online system (e.g., FAIS/Streams).

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Learning Outcomes
Memory Allocator Design 25 % 1, 2 , 3 ,4
HTTP server design 25 % 5, 6, 7, 8
Final Exam 40 % 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines , which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Integrity Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the Academic Skills website. In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


The assessments in this course demand hands-on training. Without attending tutorials and submitting and testing the laboratory exercises every week, the students will find it extremely hard to finish the assignments. Therefore, we expect high participation in the tutorials. Each lecture will offer an in-class quiz which will prepare students for the final exam. Therefore, attending the lectures and participating in the discussions and solving the quiz questions is extremely important.


There will be a final exam worth 40%. The exam will cover the course content covered in lectures in the first eleven weeks.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 25 %
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2 , 3 ,4

Memory Allocator Design

In this assignment, students will implement a memory allocator, which allows users to malloc() and free() memory as needed. Their allocator will request large chunks of memory from the OS, and efficiently manage all the bookkeeping and memory.


Assessment Task 2

Value: 25 %
Learning Outcomes: 5, 6, 7, 8

HTTP server design

The second assignment in this course requires students to implement a HTTP server that will allow a HTTP client (a web browser like FireFox or Google Chrome ) to connect to it and download files.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 40 %
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Final Exam

There is only one examination in this course. The final exam will be held during the exam period.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. The University’s students are an integral part of that community. The academic integrity principle commits all students to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support, academic integrity, and to uphold this commitment by behaving honestly, responsibly and ethically, and with respect and fairness, in scholarly practice.

The University expects all staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle, the Academic Integrity Rule 2021, the Policy: Student Academic Integrity and Procedure: Student Academic Integrity, and to uphold high standards of academic integrity to ensure the quality and value of our qualifications.

The Academic Integrity Rule 2021 is a legal document that the University uses to promote academic integrity, and manage breaches of the academic integrity principle. The Policy and Procedure support the Rule by outlining overarching principles, responsibilities and processes. The Academic Integrity Rule 2021 commences on 1 December 2021 and applies to courses commencing on or after that date, as well as to research conduct occurring on or after that date. Prior to this, the Academic Misconduct Rule 2015 applies.


The University commits to assisting all students to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. All coursework students must complete the online Academic Integrity Module (Epigeum), and Higher Degree Research (HDR) students are required to complete research integrity training. The Academic Integrity website provides information about services available to assist students with their assignments, examinations and other learning activities, as well as understanding and upholding academic integrity.

Online Submission

The assignment submission will be through the teaching Gitlab. You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records.

Hardcopy Submission

The two assignment submissions in this course will be soft copy submissions. We are aiming for in person (paper) exams. We will adjust the policy as per circumstances.

Late Submission

Individual assessment tasks may or may not allow for late submission. Policy regarding late submission is detailed below:

  • Late submission not permitted. If submission of assessment tasks without an extension after the due date is not permitted, a mark of 0 will be awarded.

Referencing Requirements

The Academic Skills website has information to assist you with your writing and assessments. The website includes information about Academic Integrity including referencing requirements for different disciplines. There is also information on Plagiarism and different ways to use source material.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Shoaib Akram

Research Interests

Computer Systems. Memory and storage systems.

Shoaib Akram

Shoaib Akram

Research Interests

Shoaib Akram

Jon Connor

Research Interests

Jon Connor

Nicholas Miehlbradt

Research Interests

Nicholas Miehlbradt

Benjamin Gray

Research Interests

Benjamin Gray

Harris Loi

Research Interests

Harris Loi

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions