Fundamentals of computer systems

Objectives and outcomes

Students acquire a basic knowledge of computer systems and computer technology. Upon completion of the course, students have a basic knowledge of computer hardware, as well as of the organisation of hardware units and their connection. They can understand how an arithmetic logic unit functions.


Introduction to computers and computer systems. Evolution and development trends in computing. History of information technology development. Number systems. Computer data. Fixed-point number representation. Integers. Binary coded decimal numbers. Floating point numbers. Standards for floating point number representation. Floating-point arithmetic, fixed-point arithmetic. Von Neumann’s machine. Principles of functioning of digital computers. Data flow in the computer. Microprocessors. Processor instruction sets. Types of buses in computer architecture. Cache memory. Internal memory. External memory. Input / output devices. Error detection and correction. Multiprocessor systems and multi-core systems.

Practical classes

Computer arithmetic. Central processor. An instruction set. Bus types, synchronous and asynchronous bus, operations, arbitration, examples. Internal memory: types, characteristics, hierarchy, implementation, interleaving, connection. Cache: purpose, principles, types of mapping, write and replacement policies, improvements. Interfacing with input-output devices: principles, techniques, controllers, DMA, interrupt system, examples. Symbolic machine language. Compiling, loading and executing programs. Diagnostic tools and diagnostic procedures. Computer performance testing. Installation, optimisation and upgrade of operating systems.