Qualifying Exam Syllabus for COMPSCI 510: Operating Systems

Exam is Closed Book.


  • Primitives — atomic instructions, locks, condition variables, semaphores.
  • Threads and Processes — state, context switching, interaction with synchronization primitives, user- and kernel-level threads.
  • Concepts — deadlock, starvation, races, logical clocks, causal ordering.

Scheduling and Performance:

  • Policies — FIFO, round-robin, MLFQ.
  • Concepts — priority inversion, preemption.
  • Metrics — throughput, response time, utilization.

Protection and Isolation:

  • Processor Modes — kernel (supervisor), user.
  • Virtual Memory — address spaces, address translation, page tables, TLBs. Processes. System Calls.
  • Exceptions — traps, faults, interrupts.
  • Mechanisms — Access control lists (ACLs), capabilities.


  • I/O Devices — drivers, block I/O, POSIX interface.
  • File Systems — files, directories, inodes.
  • Concepts — access patterns, caching, recovery, prefetching, logging, journaling.
  • Memory — memory-mapped files, swap files, page replacement policies.


  • Stack — IP, TCP/UDP (streams/datagrams), socket interface.
  • Addressing — DNS, addresses, ports.
  • Security — authentication, certificates, transport-level security (TLS).


Sample Exams:

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