Operating Systems

If you want to travel around the world and be invited to speak at a lot of different places, just write a Unix operating system.

Linus Torvalds

Operating systems—along with database management systems and compilers—are some of the most sophisticated programs that software engineers utilize.

Understanding the operation of operating systems is one of the most reliable ways to increase the effectiveness, performance and security of one’s programs. Yet many engineers expect to learn about their operating systems by osmosis, not taking the time to understand this important piece of software in its own right. We feel that this is an unfortunate oversight.

Our course focuses on the four topics that we feel are most empowering for practicing software engineers: CPU virtualization, virtual memory, coordination and persistence. The scope of the course is to provide students with a strong mental model of these concepts to take back to their userland programs.


  1. Introduction to Operating Systems
  2. Programs and Processes
  3. Process Execution and Scheduling
  4. File Systems
  5. Virtual Memory
  6. Inter-process Communication
  7. Concurrency
  8. Virtual Machines and Containers

Projects and exercises

The practical component of this course consists of small tracing exercises to explore the design decisions of some modern operating systems.

Assumed knowledge

This course assumes strong programming abilities, and some familiarity with C. Students are advised to be familiar enough with C to say solve an exercise in K&R C without much outside assistance. We suggest that students without an undergraduate computer science background take our Computer Architecture course before undertaking Operating Systems.

Schedule and price

Operating Systems will next run 7:00pm-8:30pm Mondays and Thursdays, 17 Jun - 25 Jul 2019. The total price is $1800.

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Taking Bradfield’s Operating Systems course gave me a much deeper understanding of the underlying concepts and principles at work in modern computers. Understanding these abstractions helps me digest new technical information and ultimately make more informed decisions. If you’re looking for a way to level up your technical skills, I would highly recommend taking this course.

James Vanneman, Software Engineer at Microsoft James Vanneman, Software Engineer at Microsoft