Final Exam

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

General Rules

Note: There will be no option of a hardcopy submission this year, submission is only through give. There is also no need to electronically sign submissions.


You are given two research papers (the links will be active from TBA).

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 for each paper a report which summarises 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:

Remember: In order to help us to perform an unbiased assessment of your report, please do not put your name on the report itself, only your student ID. And please submit the reports on the two papers as separate files, to make it easier for me to mark each paper in batch.

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 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2000, or 1999 exams, and the sample reports provided there.