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MSIT 421: Computer Systems: Architecture, Organization & Software



A comprehensive introduction to computer systems and information technology (IT). The primary objective of this course is to provide a detailed understanding of computer architecture, system software and important issues related to IT. The material in this course forms a technical foundation for understanding current technologies and how they work. Topics include principles of systems architecture, operating systems, application software, storage and systems management as well as current developments in cloud computing, green IT, social networking systems, and Internet search.

COURSE GOALS: To provide a detailed understanding of the fundamentals of computer hardware and software as well as recent trends in computer technology.


Week 1: Introduction/ Computer Performance Past developments and Future Directions;
Week 2: Basic Computer Function;
Week 3: Data Representation: Numbers, Text, Graphics and Video;
Week 4: Cache Memory, Internal Memory: organization, Integrity, and New Technologies;
Week 5: External Memory: Magnetic, Optical, DVD, Flash, HDD, Organization ;
Week 6: Input/Output: Data Transfer and Display Technologies;
Week 7: Operating Systems: Process Management and Internet Search;
Week 8: Parallelism, Distributed Systems and Cloud Computing;
Week 9: Future developments in IT;
Week 10: Project Presentations.

HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENTS: Homework, exams and projects


  • Homework: 15%
  • Quiz: 20%
  • Exam: 40%
  • Project: 25% 

COURSE OBJECTIVES: As a result of this course, students will be able to

1. Distinguish among various computer technologies and evaluate their respective strengths and weaknesses;
2. Understand the quantifiable and non-quantifiable aspects of computer system performance;
3. Learn basic theories and principles of computer science;
4. Develop skills to learn about new technologies and make thoughtful decisions about them;
5. Articulate clearly in writing and orally about applications of computer technology to solve real world problems.

Faculty Profile

Alan Wolff, Ph.D