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). The 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.
(thanks to John DeNero and the CS61A team, as well as Kara Nelson of the College of Engineering for their version that this document was based on)
In Spring 2021, CS61C is planning to try a new teaching plan to better support students and encourage participation during this unusual online offering of the course.
Collaboration, not competition: You are encouraged to form study groups and work together to understand course material, but (unless specified otherwise) all your graded work should be completed on your own. For example, in discussing how to solve a project you are encouraged to discuss high level strategies but you should not share code. Academic integrity and ethical conduct are of utmost importance in the College of Engineering and at UC Berkeley, especially with online offerings. We want to remind you that this course is absolute graded – that means that there will be no curve at the end of the course, so you don’t have to feel the pressure of having to cheat to get your A. You’re competing against an absolute scale, and you can all (in theory) receive A+ grades! (Though, we might need to make small bin adjustments if the GPA of the class is below the department suggested range, so we might adjust your score up, but it’ll never be adjusted down)
In particular we are going to start by creating study groups of 4 using Prof. Ranade’s study group creating tool. This tool is designed to create effective groups of students and was used successfully in 16A last semester. Although participation in the group creation is optional, you are strongly encouraged to participate as this has proven to be a highly effective tool in creating durable study groups even in the remote context.
Flexibility, Community: Online classes taught during a time of wildfires, power outages, and a worldwide pandemic need to have policies that support students in different living situations, and in different time zones. They need to have a way that the students can get to know each other, learn from each other, and study with each other. They need to have a way the course staff can get to know their students, and (most importantly) check in with them to make sure their health and learning is going ok. The deadlines need to have flexibility in case a student or team needs some more time to finish a project or homework. We believe we have built all of that into our class this semester.
Here’s the overall summary of all the elements of the course:
|Spring 2021 Online|
|Lecture||TuTh lecture for an hour and a half. Clicker questions after every lecture, which earn credit. These are due 48 hours after the lecture is given. If you choose to watch lectures asynchronously, we strongly recommend scheduling a time in your calendar every week for watching the lecture to help you stay on track.|
|Lab||You and your partner do them together (in your own zoom rooms) or in Lab OH. You will EACH then submit the completed lab to the autograder to get full credit. We are not having checkoffs. Instead, we will be having checkin’s about once a month. More will be explained below.|
|Checkin’s||This semester, we will have two check-ins. These will be 8 minute sections where you will meet with a TA to discuss anything you want. You can even use it as office hours. You must attend it as it is worth separate course credit. More will be explained below.|
|Discussion||Four live 1-hour discussions spread out through Thursday, Friday, and Monday. These videos are saved and shared. A pre-recorded “archival-quality” discussion of TAs going over the worksheet is also available. All four will cover the same material and the same worksheets. Attendance is not taken.|
|Office Hours||TAs and faculty will hold office hours on Zoom. We will have 3 types of office hours: Lab OH for lab questions, Project OH for project questions, and Regular OH for anything else. Please note that a TA can help you at anything at any of the office hours though unrelated questions will not have priority. Faculty add 1-on-1 appointment slots.|
|Project Office Hours||We will have additional office hours spread out closer to the due dates of the projects. They will be held via Zoom.|
|Exams||Midterm: 2 hours
Final: 3 hours
All exams occur over a set period of time. Open book, open note, closed internet. We will be proctoring based on this.
There will be one midterm, and one final exam, delivered through the Examtool system.
Exams are open book, open note, closed internet, no collaboration of any kind. Note that you may not use Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google slides or similar platforms. You may download them instead. We will be proctoring based on this. (We will update this link once we have finalized our exam policies). Collaboration on exams will result in an immediate F in the course!
We will offer a full (z-score) clobber to the midterm from the final. This means that your midterm score will be the max of what your current score and the z-score of the final mapped to the midterm.
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.
In order to reduce queue wait times, help will be limited to 10 minutes. If this is not sufficient, please rejoin the queue. This is designed to make the queuing time both significantly shorter and more predictable.
TAs will not be debugging code endlessly without reason. This is not a good learning practice, they have limited 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:
There are instructions for testing on all project specs, and you can review how to run valgrind and (c)gdb in lab.
When a TA takes your ticket, they will ask you to show that you do not have any compiler warnings or memory leaks. Please ensure that you have this pulled up so that you can show the TA quickly. If you have compiler warnings or memory leaks, the TA will not be able to assist you until this is fixed (unless your question is about how to fix the compiler warnings or memory leaks).
Before joining the queue, you must add the following to your problem description in order to help the TA better understand what you need help with and to ensure that you have attempted to debug your code before coming to office hours.
If your question is conceptual/homework/lab (non-debugging), fill in the prompt below: Detailed question:
If your question is project/lab (debugging), fill in the prompt below: Have you fixed all compiler warnings? Have you run valgrind and fixed all memory leaks? Detailed question: Steps have you taken to solve this problem:
If you do not fill out the description properly, your ticket will be resolved. Descriptions like “please help”, “I don’t understand how to do this problem”, etc are not sufficient and will be resolved. Examples of good descriptions:
conceptual/homework/lab (non-debugging): Detailed question: I am having a hard time understanding when you should use malloc(). I understand that malloc will store data on the heap, and that this data will remain allocated until you call free(), but I don’t understand when you should allocate data using malloc() vs when you should allocate data on the stack.
Debugging: Have you fixed all compiler warnings? yes Have you run valgrind and fixed all memory leaks? yes Detailed question: I am getting a segfault in my code for Project X. I have determined that it is occuring in the function example_func(). I have also figured out that it only happens when the parameter example_param is greater than 16. Steps have you taken to solve this problem: I have run my code through gdb which helped me determine that the error is occurring in example_func() when example_param() is greater than 16. The segfault is occurring on line 57 when I try to access an element in the example_array.
Since our office hours will be in open zoom rooms, you MUST be in the Zoom room if you are on the queue. If we get to your name and you are not in the zoom call, we will skip you and you will have to sign up again.
We have 3 different types of office hours: Normal OH (includes Head TA and Instructor OH), Lab OH, and Project OH. Each of them has a priority of types of questions which they will answer. Normal OH will prioritize homework, exam, and conceptual questions. It then will take project questions, and finally take lab questions last. Lab OH will take lab questions first but also take any other type of question if there are no lab questions. Project OH will take project questions first, then homework, exam, and conceptual questions next. It will finally take Lab questions last.
NOTE: To access our resources from different places around the world, please download and use the campus VPN: https://www.lib.berkeley.edu/using-the-libraries/vpn.
All important course announcements will be made on Piazza. We will be automatically enrolling everyone and locking piazza enrollment: https://piazza.com/berkeley/spring2021/cs61c. We have decided to no longer allow for non-enrolled students to join our Piazza. We decided this because we do not have enough bandwidth to answer questions from students who are not enrolled in the course.
helpfulbutton on a question/followup. We do not allow +1’s because they clutter the post and make it more difficult to get to the unresolved follow-ups.
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.
You can connect remotely to the lab computers using the following addresses:
If the Hive machine you have chosen is running too slow, try another one. You can find a list of the available Hive machines and their current workloads here:
In order to foster a collaborative environment, CS61C is initially graded on a fixed scale. The course is graded out of 300 points, with the following mappings from points to letter grades:
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). Please note that we will not include PNP students or Incompletes in any adjustments we do.
We will compute grades from a weighted average, as follows:
|Assignment||Percentage of Grade|
|Lecture||3% (9 points)|
|Labs||10% (30 points)|
|Checkin’s (2 total)||1% (3 points)|
|Homework||11% (33 points)|
|Project 1||11% (33 points)|
|Project 2||11% (33 points)|
|Project 3||11% (33 points)|
|Project 4||11% (33 points)|
|Midterm||11% (33 points)|
|Final||20% (60 points)|
Below, you will find sections describing some of these assignment types.
Any assignment which is due by the end of the day is due by 11:00.00PM! Even if you submit a second late (aka 11:00.01PM), it will be considered one day late!
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:
The purpose of discussion is to solidify student understanding of the material through guided problem solving. With an online course, some people find it helpful to be in the room with a TA when they go over the problems, so we will have two discussion sections on Zoom spread out throughout the day (with one additional section on Friday and another on Monday), and we will record the sessions for those who normally attend but can’t make it. In addition, we’ll have a pre-recorded “archival-quality” discussion of TAs going over the worksheet available. All four will cover the same material and the same worksheets.
Labs are designed to give you introductory experience with the course material. It is strongly recommended to have a partner to complete the labs; if you don’t know anyone in class, you can use Piazza to find a partner. (If the partnership turns out not to work, you can always disband the partnership after a lab and find another partner, there will probably be a fair amount of “churn” the first few weeks.) You’d then work on the lab together with your partner (we’ve found that pair programming works great; one partner sharing their screen as “driver”, while the other partner serves as “navigator” – then you switch roles every 30m or so). You are NOT required to have a lab partner.
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 33 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 33 points course grade portion.
For full credit, labs must submit to the lab autograder by the stated deadlines, which are Friday 11PM PT, for the lab of the week. If you submit to the lab autograder within a week after the original deadline, you will be able to receive half credit (1 point) at most (Note that Gradescope will still show this as 2 points though Total Course Points will handle the late time). Anytime after that, you will not be able to get any credit, and the lab autograder will no longer be accepting submissions. Please make sure to always activate the correct submission if you choose to resubmit otherwise you will not get credit for the lab. We will NOT change your active submission if it is wrong!
We will be giving you one lab drop which will drop your lowest lab score. If you are working with a partner, BOTH you and your partner are expected to submit your own code to the lab autograder. If one of you fails to do so, the person who did not submit will NOT get credit or the lab. The lab that you drop does not need to be the same lab that your partner drops.
The staff recommends always asking for help in lab office hours when you need it. Each lab will contain questions you should be able to answer. Some of the questions have a Gradescope autograder while other questions may not be required for points. You should still answer all of them to benefit your learning. The purpose of this is to gauge your understanding and fill in any holes/build on your knowledge of the concepts assessed by the lab questions. If you are unsure of the answer to any of these questions you should ask for help.
We will have check-ins twice during this semester. We will send out an announcement when to sign up for check-ins. You will have one week to sign up and the checkins themselves will be spread out over three weeks. If you fail to sign up for a slot, you will not have a check-in and you will not be able to receive credit for the check-in. You may sign up for a check-in with any TA you’d like. You will be required to attend to get credit. You may ask any questions you have. You can even use it as an 8 minute office hours window. If you have any personal questions, feel free to ask in your check-in!
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 correctness. Once again, completion of all HW is highly recommended.
We will release homework solutions shortly after the [late] due date, so late homework is not accepted. There are no homework drops. We will give 3 slip days just for homeworks which may be used on any homework without prior approval. Since we want to release homework solutions as soon as we can, the latest you can turn homework in up to 3 days after the due date.
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.
You will work on ALL projects individually All of these projects were designed to be completable on your own. Collaborating with other students is strictly prohibited. Please see the section on Academic Dishonesty below.
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. Please note that projects have a hard deadline of 1 week after it is due. Even if you had a 5 day extension, you would only be able to use up to two of your slip days on it even if you had three.
Projects are difficult, so don’t worry if you don’t get 100% on projects! We also have a philosophy on autograders: we only provide visible sanity tests. So there will be immediate feedback that your code compiles and runs on a simple test case but you won’t be able to see the results of the tests that are used to determine your grade. Additionally, you should ensure you have set the submission you want to use as your final grade as your ‘active’ submission. You may change your ‘active’ submission up until the late due date. We will not change your project submission after the late due date passes regardless of if you did better on another submission. We do not want you to use the autograder as an oracle since much of programming is actually testing your code.
To help you handle any issues that arise, we give you three project slip-day tokens and three homework slip-day tokens, which allow you to reduce your late penalties on late project and homework submissions respectively. There are no slip days for any other assignment. You may use all slip days on a single assignment.
Berkeley honor code: Everyone in this class is expected to adhere to this code: “As a member of the UC Berkeley community, I act with honesty, integrity, and respect for others.”
Please carefully read the policies below and ask a member of the course staff if you have any questions or if something is unclear.
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. Please do not email it or post it on Piazza!
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.
Even if your letter has the accommodations, you must still fill out this form otherwise you will not be granted the extension. We will not be granting extensions if you do NOT request them regardless of if it is in your letter!
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.
We do NOT give extensions for late adding the class. If you have any intention of taking the class but are not enrolled in the class, you must enroll the class (at least being on the waitlist) and you must keep up with the work.
Inclusion: We are committed to creating a learning environment welcoming of all students that supports a diversity of thoughts, perspectives, and experiences, and respects your identities and backgrounds (including race/ethnicity, nationality, gender identity, socioeconomic class, sexual orientation, language, religion, ability, etc.) To help accomplish this: If you have a name and/or set of pronouns that differ from those that appear in your official records, please let us know. If you feel like your performance in the class is being impacted by your experiences outside of class (e.g., family matters, current events), please don’t hesitate to come and talk with us. We want to be resources for you. As a participant in this class, recognize that you can be proactive about making other students feel included and respected. For example, this means when you encounter someone who doesn’t know something, rather than replying with shocked incredulity “What?! You don’t know that?!”, you can effuse with “Awesome, I get to teach you!”. https://xkcd.com/1053/ 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. We (like many people) are still in the process of learning about diverse perspectives and identities. If something is said in class (by anyone) that makes you 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. You may also contact the department’s Faculty Equity Advisors (CS) Prof. Josh Hug [email protected] or (EE) Prof. Robert Pilawa-Podgurski [email protected], 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.
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.