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Computer Science 61 and E61
Systems Programming and Machine Organization
Fall 2016

Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Eddie KohlerMargo Seltzer

Lectures: Tuesday/Thursday, 2:30-4:00
Location: Northwest B100

Course Description  |  Schedule  |  Course staff, sections, office hours  |  Section notes
Infrastructure  |  Git  |  Resources  |  Coding style  |  C patterns
Extension school  |  Lecture videos
Piazza  |  Grading server  |  Lecture feedback



CS 61 is an introduction to the fundamentals of computer systems programming. Topics include C and assembly language programming, performance analysis and improvement strategies, memory management, caching, concurrency, threads, and synchronization.

CS 61 will help you develop the skills to write programs for the real world, where performance and robustness really matter. It will also prepare you for more advanced CS courses, including operating systems, compilers and programming languages, architecture, and graphics. CS 61 is suitable for both computer science concentrators and non-concentrators.

We want CS 61 to be fun and challenging, but not necessarily to require tons of work. Computer systems rock!

New in 2016! We will be teaching CS61 in a hybrid style. Each class meeting will be split into two approximately equal parts. The first will be an interactive, lecture format; the second part will be small group problem solving. The in-class problems provide practice on material covered in the lecture and prepare you for tackling the assignments. Attendance is mandatory. If you have a laptop, please bring it to class charged. If you do not have a laptop, please see either Professor Kohler or Seltzer (while not every student will require a laptop for every class, we will probably ask that you complete exams on a computer, so if you don't have one you can bring to class, we'll supply one for you).


CS 50, CS 51, or the instructor's permission.

Note: This course requires programming in C. Ideally you should already have experience programming in C. If you have not previously programmed in C but know another procedural language, such as Java, you will likely be able to quickly learn what you need. Talk to one of the instructors if you are unsure whether you are sufficiently prepared for CS 61. More Information


Computer Systems: A Programmer's Perspective, Third Edition by Randal E. Bryant and David R. O'Hallaron. More information.

College concentration requirements

CS concentrators must take two of CS 50, CS 51, and CS 61. CS 61 may be used as one of the four half-courses in CS to satisfy the requirements for the secondary concentration in computer science. CS 61 may also be used as a technical elective for the primary concentration (if you don’t use it to fulfill other requirements).

Extension school

CS 61 is offered through the Extension School as CSCI E-61. See information for Extension students.

Additional information

Prior offerings