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School of Computer Science & Engineering
University of New South Wales

 Advanced Operating Systems 
 COMP9242 2016/S2 

Final Exam

Text in blue colour was added/modified between the end of the teaching period and the start of the exam.

Text in red colour was added/modified after the start of the exam.

General Rules

Notes on electronic submissions

  1. In the cases where a paper submission is also required (cases 1 and 2 above), the electronic submission, when printed on a CSE printer, must appear exactly as the submitted hardcopy.
  2. The submission must be in PDF format (and use the extension .pdf).
  3. The submission must be made via the give system, mark name "exam".
  4. If using give, check you can submit your exam (or any exam report) well before the deadline. We will have little sympathy for submission issues if you raise them five minutes before the deadline.
  5. Make sure that you only use Type-1 fonts, as others are unprintable on some printers. LaTeX users can ensure the use of Type-1 fonts by producing a PostScript file with the command
    dvips -Pwww -o file
    and then converting this to PDF.

Notes on digitally signed submissions

Digitally signing your submission only makes sense if we can verify your signature. I therefore require you to have your signature signed by Gernot or Kevin beforehand, or within three days of the end of the exam. Therefore, if you want to use the digital signature option, do the following:
  1. Familiarise yourself with PGP (or GPG). We will not provide tutorials on this, it's up to you. Get yourself a public key if you don't have one. Follow the recommended safeguards to keep it secure. It will be like your normal signature!
  2. See Gernot or Kevin with your key and proof of identity. He will then sign your key.
  3. This signed key can then be used to sign your exam. (Feel free to get others to sign your key as well.) If you get your key signed after the exam, make sure that it is the same key as used for signing the exam.
  4. Make sure that PGP or GPG is installed on the system you are going to use to write your exam, and that you can use it reliably. If you stuff up, it's your own problem.


You are given two research papers (the links will be active from 10:00, Nov 8th):

You are to read, understand, and critically assess the papers. Questions you may want to ask yourself for each of the papers:

These are only hints, I am not asking you to explicitly answer all these for each paper. However, you may find those questions helpful in critically analysing the papers. Imagine you are a reviewer for a conference to which the papers have been submitted, and you are to judge their contribution to the field. In order to get an idea of what program committees at top systems conferences are looking for, have a look at this classic!

You can expect to get a bare pass if you demonstrate that you have understood what the authors are doing. Beyond that, I want to see a critical assessment, given the knowledge you gained in this course. Note that all papers are in fact published (and should therefore meet certain quality standards one hopes :-). Nevertheless, they may have flaws. If they do, then I'd like you to find them. Beyond that, you should critically assess the work against your understanding of OS issues. The more depth of analysis you demonstrate, the higher your mark will be.

What to submit

You are to submit a report which summarises for each paper the basic ideas behind their work. You are to give a critique of the technical merits, achievements and shortcomings (if any). The papers are not directly related, so you don't have to compare them.

I am intentionally not specifying a length limit. However, I strongly encourage you to be concise. Lengthy submissions will almost certainly be unfocussed and waffly. I cannot imagine a decent job in excess of 3000 words, and a very good submission should be possible to be written up in 2–3 pages. If your report gets longer than this you should step back and try to focus.

A good way to structure your review is the standard approach taken by conference program committees, which tend to use some variant of a basic structure which has the following sections:

Note: In order to help us to perform an unbiased assessment of your report, we would appreciate if you do not put your name on the report itself, only your student ID. Of course, your name must appear on the certificate that is attached to the report. However, as long as this certificate is on a separate page, we can assess the reports without looking at names.

What I will be looking for

You will be marked on the level of understanding and critical analysis portrayed in you submission. All relative to what can be reasonably expected from you (I know that none of you have a PhD in OS yet :-)

Note: this is an exam, not betting on horses. It is dangerous to guess what I might think of the paper, or to guess that there'll be a good and a bad one. Papers are selected on other criteria.

Previous exams

You may find it useful to look at the 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, or 1999 exams, and the sample reports provided there.
Last modified: 08 Nov 2016.