INF422 — Components of a Computing System
Introduction to Computer Architecture and Operating Systems
École Polytechnique — Licence 3


A rich yet accessible and synthetic introduction to the design of computers, with a double hardware-software perspective. These concepts are important to understand and to harness modern computing systems, from embedded and consumer electronics to the largest networks. This course takes a top-down approach, from the general goals and principles of an operating system down to the hardware and software layers implementing it. It brings a technological perspective essential to thorough understanding of the INF431 course and of the motivations and technical challenges behind. The course also brushes an overview of concepts covered in the Master courses of computer architecture, operating system, parallel programming, networking and databases.
Lectures: Albert Cohen (INRIA Paris-Rocquencourt and École Polytechnique).
Labs: Albert Cohen, Vincent Pilaud (École Polytechnique), Nhat Minh Lê (École Normale Supérieure).
Entry in the course directory.

Online Course Material


The labs are in French for now. Based on student feedback, we will consider translating them to English.

The labs take the form of design and implementation projects covering the main aspects of a computing system. Some exercices have to be completed before the next course, uploading the answers on the web page These exercises will be graded, contributing a [-1, ..., +2] bonus/malus added to the grade of the final exam.

A project page has been opened. Please refer to it for further notification about the timeline and intermediate deliveries of the project..

Direct links to the labs:      Introduction      FAQ   Glossary   Project  

Suggested Readings

The following books are not required for the course but can provide interesting complements to the printed handouts.

Final Exam

If requested, the final exam will be bilingual.

All documents are authorized for reference (notes, slides, books, etc.), but not communication-capable computers..

Archives of past exams: