Official Academic Guide course description.

The subjects covered in this course include: C and assembly language programming, translation of high-level programs into machine language, computer organization, caches, performance measurement, parallelism, CPU design, warehouse-scale computing, and related topics.


CS61A and CS61B (or equivalents). CS61B requirement can be bypassed if you have solid experience with a C-based programming language.


We will be using the first edition of Patterson and Hennessy’s Computer Organization and Design RISC-V Edition book (“P&H”), ISBN 0128122757. We are also requiring The C Programming Language, Second Edition by Kernighan and Ritchie (“K&R”), and will reference its sections in the reading assignments. Other books are also suitable if you are already comfortable with them, but our lectures will be based on K&R. Finally, we will be using The Datacenter as a Computer: An Introduction to the Design of Warehouse-Scale Machines (“WSC”), which is freely available online here.


There will be one quest, one midterm and one final exam.

  • Quest: 9/16 9-10PM. Covers up to and including the 9/13 lecture on basic RISC-V.
  • Midterm: 10/28 8-10PM. Covers up to and including the 10/14 lecture on Control.
  • Final: 12/20 11:30AM-2:30PM. All topics are in scope and equally emphasised.

On each exam, you will be given a RISC-V Green Sheet. Additionally, you will be allowed to bring handwritten cheat sheets as indicated below:

  • Quest: One 8.5”x11”, double-sided cheat sheet.
  • Midterm: Two 8.5”x11”, double-sided cheat sheets.
  • Final: Three 8.5”x11”, double-sided cheat sheets (it is recommended that you re-use your cheat sheets from the two midterms).

The “Clobber” Policy

The clobber policy allows you to override your Quest score with the score of the corresponding section on the Midterm and your Quest and Midterm scores with the score of the corresponding section on the final exam if you perform better on the respective sections of the final. Note that the reverse is not true - you must take the entire final exam, regardless of your Quest and Midterm scores.

Here is an example of the process:

Suppose we are interested in computing your clobbered midterm score:

Potential replacement score = (Final-mt-subscore - Final-mt-mean)/Final-mt-stddev * Mt-stddev + Mt-mean

Clobbered mt score = MAX(Original mt score, Potential replacement score)

Final-mt-subscore is your score on the midterm section of the final, Final-mt-mean and Final-mt-stddev are the mean and standard deviation of the midterm section of the final, and Mt-stddev and Mt-mean are the standard deviation and mean of the actual midterm.

“Clobbered mt score” is then filled in as your midterm score for the final grade calculation. For the Quest we will take the MAX(Original Quest score, mt replacement score, final replacement score).

Note that clobber will NOT give you more points than the exam is worth (meaning that it is really min(score, max score))

Office Hours

We hope you take advantage of the ample office hours we have scheduled this term. When coming to office hours for lab or project help, there are some policies you’ll need to abide by. First, TA’s shouldn’t be debugging code endlessly without reason. This is not a good use of their time, and part of the goal of this course is to turn you into a great tester and debugger.

Therefore, before coming to office hours, students should have done the following on the hive machines:

  • Run valgrind and fixed all memory leaks/warnings
  • Written a test that isolates/demonstrates their issue (NOT a staff provided test)
  • Stepped through the test with (c)gdb and can tell you the line number the issue occurs on

If you have not completed all items above, a TA has the right to refuse you assistance. There are instructions for testing on all project specs, and you can review how to run valgrind and (c)gdb in lab.

Computer Resources

Discussion Forum

All important course announcements will be made on Piazza. Be sure to join here: https://piazza.com/berkeley/fall2019/cs61c.

Computer Accounts

You will need a CS61C class account for use in the computer labs, submitting assignments, and tracking your grades. You must request a class login via https://inst.eecs.berkeley.edu/webacct. Make sure you remember your log-in information once you change it! We cannot recover your account information for you. If you are unable to request an account due to concurrent enrollment status, please follow the instructions in lab 0. If you are a late add, you may use any other class account, or your CS199 account until the option to create an inst account for CS61C is available to you. Note: The CS61C staff does not have any control over how quickly concurrent enrollment/late add accounts are processed.

Computer Labs

We will be using a combination of 271 Soda, 273 Soda, 275 Soda, and 330 Soda this semester. You will be receiving 24/7 key card access to these labs, but please be mindful of the fact that we share these lab spaces with other CS classes. In addition, please respect the labs by keeping things neat and avoid eating/drinking near the computers.

You can connect remotely to the lab computers using the following addresses:


In order to foster a collaborative environment, CS61C is graded on a fixed scale. The course is graded out of 300 points, with the following mappings from points to letter grades:

Raw Score Grade
290+ A+
[270,290) A
[260,270) A-
[250,260) B+
[230,250) B
[220,230) B-
[210,220) C+
[190,210) C
[180,190) C-
[140,180) D
[0,140) F

In the event that our distribution does not align with the EECS departmental guidelines, we may decrease the raw score boundaries, but they will not increase (i.e. it is possible to receive a higher grade than the mapping suggests, but not a lower one).

We will compute grades from a weighted average, as follows:

Assignment Percentage of Grade
Labs 5% (15 points)
Homework 15% (45 points)
Projects (3 total) 30% (90 points)
Quest 5% (15 points)
Midterm 15% (45 points)
Final exam 30% (90 points)

Below, you will find sections describing some of these assignment types. Projects are evenly weighted unless otherwise mentioned.


EPA was created to encourage people to be good academic citizens, in a way that traditional grades could not capture. This can help boost you over a grade boundary if you’re close to one. Scoring is confidential (we’ll never tell you your EPA score and you shouldn’t ask), and is decided by the teaching staff, so make sure they know your name.

Here are the categories:

  • Effort = {Office hours, doing every single lab, hw, reading Piazza pages, etc.}
  • Participation = {Raising hand in discussion, asking Piazza questions, etc.}
  • Altruism = {Helping other students in lab, answering Piazza or Office Hrs questions}


Labs are designed to give you introductory experience with the course material. After completing each lab, you will need to complete an in-person checkoff. Remote checkoffs, or checkoffs in office hours/discussion are not allowed. This process should be very quick and involves showing a TA or Academic Intern that you have completed the assignment. This staff member will then provide you with a one-time unique code used as a verification that we have seen that you completed the lab. When you have this code you will need to make a file called tokens.txt, add the code they are given, and upload it to Gradescope. Codes cannot be shared between students and you will have a limited number of submissions to prevent attempts to “guess” a valid code. The staff is not liable for missing checkoff points and any attempts to receive credit after the deadline will not be fulfilled.

Labs are graded on correct completion. Completion of all labs is highly recommended for success in the course. Each of the labs are graded out of 2 points. Please note that these are not 2 points each from the 15 points “Labs” portion in your course grade. Each lab is simply graded out of 2 points, and we will scale the lab total to the 15 points course grade portion.

In each lab, we will maintain two queues: a checkoff queue and a help queue. The checkoff queue is strictly for students who completed the entire lab and wish to receive the checkoff code. Ideally, checkoffs should be quick and efficient. The help queue is for students who need help completing the lab. Please do not use the checkoff queue to request help, even if it is shorter. You will only have one official checkoff attempt.

You are required to work in partners for labs. For full credit, labs must be checked off by the next lab section after they were assigned. You can turn in late labs for half credit if you get them checked off the lab section after they were due. This means that a lab assigned in week 1 would be due on the friday at 11:59pm on week 2 to still get full credit, and would get half credit in week 3.

The staff recommends always asking for help on labs when you need it, and to only request a check off when you have thought about the lab sufficiently and can have an informed conversation with your TA. Each lab will contain questions you should be able to answer, even though we will not explicit ask them to give you points. If you are unsure of the answer to any of these questions you should ask for help.


Homework is designed to give you more problem practice on the week’s material. We encourage you to work on the homework problems in small groups, but each student is required to turn in a solution that they have written themselves.

Homework is done online via gradescope and is graded on correct completion. Once again, completion of all HW is highly recommended. We will release homework solutions shortly after the due date, so late homework is not accepted.

Homeworks will give you unlimited attempts.


Projects are designed to give you heavy-duty experience with the application of course content. Projects are graded on correctness.

Project 1 will be individual. Projects 2,3 may be done by a group of up to 2 people (we strongly encourage you to find a partner for these projects, you can learn a lot from your partner!).

For each day that a project is late, 1/3 of your earned points on the project are deducted, until the project is worth nothing. Lateness rounds up to the nearest day - that is, an assignment that is 2 hours late is one day late.

Slip Days

To help you handle any issues that arise, we give you three slip-day tokens, which allow you to reduce your late penalties on late project submissions.

Example usages:

  • Use two slip-days to receive no penalty on a project submitted two days late
  • Use two slip-days to receive no penalty for two separate projects each submitted one day late
  • Use three slip-days to receive just a 1/3 penalty on a project submitted 4 days late
  • We will track the total number of late days for your submissions and automatically apply them in the order in which they are used.
  • Slip-days may only be applied towards projects, and not any other assignments. Slip-days will not be assessed against projects you did not submit. No extra credit is awarded for avoiding the use of slip-days, however it is in your best interest to avoid turning projects in late. Usually, a new project will be released very shortly after the current project is due.
  • Slip days are in terms of “days” meaning a project submitted one minute after the deadline consumes one entire token. Please plan accordingly as there is no grace period.

Academic Dishonesty and Cheating

Please carefully read the policies below and ask a member of the course staff if you have any questions or if something is unclear.

  • All work that is to be done INDIVIDUALLY should be YOUR work and your work ALONE.
  • All partner work should be done by your project team ALONE (no discussing or sharing solutions or algorithmic approaches with other partners)
  • You are encouraged to help each other debug without viewing each other’s code or talking specifically about algorithms. Beyond that, we don’t want you sharing approaches, ideas, code or whiteboarding with other students.
  • It is NOT acceptable to copy solutions from other students.
  • It is NOT acceptable to copy (or start your) solutions from the Web.
  • It is NOT acceptable to leave your code anywhere where an unscrupulous student could find and steal it (e.g., public GITHUBs, walking away while leaving yourself logged on, leaving printouts lying around, etc.
  • We have tools and methods, developed over many years, for detecting this. You WILL be caught, and the penalties WILL be severe. This software can even detect attempts to purposefully obfuscate copying. If you have questions whether a behavior is crossing the line, ask!
  • At the minimum negative points will be given for the assignment (meaning you’re better off NOT submitting anything than cheating), and a letter in your Cal record documenting the cheating.
  • Both the giver and the receiver of code are equally culpable and suffer equal penalties.

Disabled Students’ Program

The Disabled Students’ Program (DSP) is committed to ensuring that all students with disabilities have equal access to educational opportunities at UC Berkeley. They offer a wide range of services for students with disabilities that are individually designed and remove the need to reveal sensitive medical information to the course staff. If you have a medical need for extensions of exam times or assignment deadlines, these will be granted through official documentation from DSP. Please start the process at https://dsp.berkeley.edu as soon as possible to avoid delays.

If you already have documentation from DSP, please ensure its been submitted on the SCARAB portal so that instructors have access to your accommodations.

If you’d like to request an extension in line with your DSP status, please use the form linked here. If your request falls under the accommodations stated in your letter it will be automatically granted, otherwise it will be submitted to the instructors for additional review.

Accomodations and Extensions

If you are a non-DSP student interested in requesting an extension or accommodation for an assignment, you can do so by filling out the form linked here. Note that this form will not automatically grant any extensions; they will be logged and submitted to the instructors for additional review.

For students who do not have DSP accommodations for extensions, if your partner is DSP and receives an extension, your will receive an extension too. To receive this extension, you must fill out the non-dsp request saying your partner was given a dsp extension and the name of the partner.

Extenuating Circumstances and Inclusiveness

We recognize that our students come from varied backgrounds and can have widely-varying circumstances affect them during their time in the course. If you have any unforeseen circumstances that arise during the course, please do not hesitate to contact the instructors in office hours or via e-mail or private Piazza post to discuss your situation. The sooner we are made aware, the more easily these situations can be resolved. Extenuating circumstances include work-school balance, familial responsibilities, religious observations, military duties, unexpected travel, or anything else beyond your control that may negatively impact your performance in the class.

If at any point you are made to feel uncomfortable, disrespected, or excluded by a staff member or fellow student, please report the incident to our instructors, head TA, or another member of staff you’re comfortable with so that we may address the issue and maintain a supportive and inclusive learning environment. Should you feel uncomfortable bringing up an issue with a staff member directly, you may consider contacting the Campus Ombuds Office or the ASUC Student Advocate’s Office (SAO).

If you’d like to report an incident, but feel uncomfortable doing so in person, you’re also welcome to use your TA’s EPA form.

Campus Student Services

Your mental health is more important than this course. Seriously. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or not in control, talk to us and we’ll try to help. UC Berkeley also offers services to students which you can take advantage of.

Campus resources are also available for survivors of sexual violence or harassment. Be aware that all course staff are mandatory reporters for such incidents. Confidential services are also available on campus: https://survivorsupport.berkeley.edu/Confidential-Resources-Anonymous-Reporting-and-Privacy.