The Elements of Computing Systems: Building a Modern Computer from First Principles

The Elements of Computing Systems: Building a Modern Computer from First Principles

Noam Nisan, Shimon Schocken

Language: English

Pages: 344

ISBN: 0262640686

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

In the early days of computer science, the interactions of hardware, software, compilers, and operating system were simple enough to allow students to see an overall picture of how computers worked. With the increasing complexity of computer technology and the resulting specialization of knowledge, such clarity is often lost. Unlike other texts that cover only one aspect of the field, The Elements of Computing Systems gives students an integrated and rigorous picture of applied computer science, as its comes to play in the construction of a simple yet powerful computer system.

Indeed, the best way to understand how computers work is to build one from scratch, and this textbook leads students through twelve chapters and projects that gradually build a basic hardware platform and a modern software hierarchy from the ground up. In the process, the students gain hands-on knowledge of hardware architecture, operating systems, programming languages, compilers, data structures, algorithms, and software engineering. Using this constructive approach, the book exposes a significant body of computer science knowledge and demonstrates how theoretical and applied techniques taught in other courses fit into the overall picture.

Designed to support one- or two-semester courses, the book is based on an abstraction-implementation paradigm; each chapter presents a key hardware or software abstraction, a proposed implementation that makes it concrete, and an actual project. The emerging computer system can be built by following the chapters, although this is only one option, since the projects are self-contained and can be done or skipped in any order. All the computer science knowledge necessary for completing the projects is embedded in the book, the only pre-requisite being a programming experience.The book's web site provides all tools and materials necessary to build all the hardware and software systems described in the text, including two hundred test programs for the twelve projects. The projects and systems can be modified to meet various teaching needs, and all the supplied software is open-source.

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screen shot) or in binary code. The screen and the keyboard are not used by this particular program. The Supplied CPU Emulator This program simulates the Hack computer platform. It allows loading a Hack program into the simulated ROM and visually observing its execution on the simulated hardware, as shown in figure 4.8. For ease of use, the CPU emulator enables loading binary .hack files as well as symbolic .asm files. In the latter case, the emulator translates the assembly program into

the bottom of figure 7.9. We see that when a VM function starts running, it assumes that (i) the stack is empty, (ii) the argument values on which it is supposed to operate are located in the argument segment, and (iii) the local variables that it is supposed to use are initialized to 0 and located in the local segment. Let us now focus on the VM representation of the algorithm. Recall that VM commands cannot use symbolic argument and variable names—they are limited to making 〈segment index〉

to return a value which becomes the topmost stack element. The uniformity of this protocol has a subtle elegance that, we hope, is not lost on the reader. Figure 8.2 Subroutine calling. Elementary commands (like add) and high-level operations (like power) have the same look and feel in terms of argument handling and return values. Subroutines like power usually use local variables for temporary storage. These local variables must be represented in memory during the subroutine’s

array of the given size; • method void dispose(): disposes this array. 12.2.4 Output This class allows writing text on the screen. ■ function void init(): for internal use only; ■ function void moveCursor(int i, int j): moves the cursor to the j-th column of the i-th row, and erases the character displayed there; ■ function void printChar(char c): prints c at the cursor location and advances the cursor one column forward; ■ function void printString(String s): prints s starting

overflow, the result may be an abnormally negative number. This problem can be addressed by (efficiently) changing the algorithm’s if logic to if ((y + 2j) 2 ≤ x) and ((y + 2j)2 > 0) then y = y + 2j 12.3.2 String As explained in section 12.1.4, string objects can be implemented as arrays. In a similar vein, all the string related services can be implemented as operations on arrays. An important implementation detail is that the actual length of the string must be maintained throughout

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