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Computer Science 61 and E61
Systems Programming and Machine Organization
Fall 2018

Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Eddie Kohler

Lectures: Tuesday/Thursday, 1:30-2:45
Location: Northwest B103


Course Description  |  Schedule  |  Course staff, sections, and office hours
Infrastructure  |  Git  |  Resources  |  Coding style  |  C and C++ patterns
Piazza  |  Grading server  |  Live lectures (DCE)  |  Lecture videos  |  Lecture feedback


  • Lecture notes: Data representation 2, 3, 4
  • 9/23/2018 Problem set 2 published. Due Friday 10/5 (+1 day for extension).
  • 9/9/2018 Problem set 1 published. Due Sunday 9/23 (+1 day for extension).
  • 9/7/2018 Sign up for Piazza here. The Piazza link above leads to a course summary page. You will need a Harvard email to sign up; if you lack one, email us.


CS 61 is an introduction to the fundamentals of computer systems programming. Topics include C, 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. We want it to be fun and challenging.


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 or C++. If you have not previously programmed in C or 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