CSE 561M: Computer Systems Architecture II

Fall 2014

Instructor Patrick Crowley, Bryan Hall 522-C, pcrowley AT wustl.edu
Course web site http://www.arl.wustl.edu/~pcrowley/cse/561/
Course discussion site
Course Meeting Times Monday & Wednesday 4:00PM-5:30PM in Cupples II Hall, Room L011
Office Hours By appointment
Prerequisites CSE 560M (or permission of instructor)
Teaching Assistant
Jason Barnes, jason.barnes AT wustl.edu
Office Hours: TBD 

Caveat: This syllabus is tentative, and subject to adjustments and changes throughout the semester.

See the course calendar for lecture notes, handout materials, and schedule of classes.

Computer & Network Systems Security

The Fall 2014 offering of CSE 561M will focus on the intersection between computer design and cyber security. Decades of improvement in the price/performance and efficiency of computer systems have ushered in an era of pervasive computing, in which nearly all aspects of modern life are enabled by and dependent upon computer-mediated infrastructure. While performance and efficiency have improved markedly, most measures indicate that computer security has worsened overall in this time frame.

To understand why, we will explore the nature of cyber security, and the role that design choices play in the overall security characteristics of modern computer and network systems. This course will be a blend of study and practice. To motivate our study of concepts, and to make the subject concrete, students will use and write software to illustrate mastery of the material. Projects will include identifying security vulnerabilities, exploiting vulnerabilities, and detecting and defending against exploits. Students will be encouraged to define projects that align well with their research interests and activities.

Course Catalog Description

Advanced techniques in computer system design.  Selected topics from: processor and SoC design (multi-core organization, system-level integration), run-time systems, memory systems (topics in locality and special-purpose memories), I/O subsystems and devices, systems security, and power considerations.  Prereqs: CSE 560M or permission of instructor.  3 units.  Same as E71 CS 561M.

Course Topics & Organization

Computer design choices dictate security. The goal of the course is to establish:
Course topics are organized into three consecutive modules, as follows.

Module 1: Principles & Literacy
Week  Topics 
1 Security implications of computer design 
2 System security fundamentals 
3 Vulnerabilities & exploits 
4 Popular tools 

Module 2: Vulnerabilities & Exploits
Week  Topics 
1 Applications & services 
2 Networks & the Internet 
3 Web servers & browsers 
4 The market for exploits 

Module 3: Exploit Detection & Defense
Week  Topics 
1 Signed software & sandboxes 
2 Host and net AV 
3 Design for failure 
4 Malware analysis 

Texts & Reading Material

Texts, videos and software will be primarily drawn from web sources. 


There will be 3 types of assignments:

  1. Readings. We will read excerpts from textbooks along with research papers. The course newsgroup will be used to discuss the material. 
  2. Problem sets and projects.
  3. Presentations. Students will organize and lead one 30-minute presentation.


There will be no exams.


Participation 10%
Assignments 90%

Disability Resources

Students with disabilities or suspected disabilities are strongly encouraged to both bring any additional considerations to the attention of the instructor and make full use of the University's Disability Resource Center (http://disability.wustl.edu).

Academic Integrity

(From Undergraduate Programs catalog, p. 16) You are expected to maintain the highest standards of academic integrity and refrain from the forms of misconduct spelled out in the University Academic Integrity Policy, which is published in full in Bearings and elsewhere. Violations will lead to disciplinary action and may result in suspension or expulsion from the University.
Students and faculty have an obligation to uphold the highest standards of scholarship. Plagiarism or other forms of cheating are not tolerated. When a student has violated the standards of the academic community, an instructor may recommend that the student be brought before a disciplinary committee. These are the most frequent areas of violation:
Findings of academic misconduct may result in a written reprimand, failure of an assignment or course, disciplinary probation, withdrawal of merit-based scholarship support, or other sanctions. Severe or repeat offenses may be referred to the University Judicial Board for consideration of suspension or expulsion.