Advanced Computer Systems (ACS)

Course content

The overall purpose of this course is to offer students an understanding of techniques in computer systems with a focus on correctness and adherence to system properties, such as modularity and atomicity, while at the same time achieving high performance. The course exposes students to various system mechanisms, especially from distributed systems, database systems, and network systems. 

The course will explore the following aspects:

  • System abstractions and design principles
  • Modularity with clients and services
  • Performance
  • Atomicity and transactions
  • Concurrency control and recovery
  • Reliability, fault-tolerance, and redundancy
  • Distributed protocols for replication
  • Large-scale data processing

MSc Programme in Computer Science

Learning outcome


  • Describe the design of transactional and distributed systems, including techniques for modularity, performance, and fault tolerance.
  • Explain how to employ strong modularity through a client-service abstraction as a paradigm to structure computer systems, while hiding complexity of implementation from clients.
  • Explain techniques for large-scale data processing.    



  • Implement systems that include mechanisms for modularity, atomicity, and fault tolerance.
  • Structure and conduct experiments to evaluate a system's performance.



  • Discuss design alternatives for a modular computer system, identifying desired system properties as well as describing mechanisms for improving performance while arguing for their correctness.
  • Analyze protocols for concurrency control and recovery, as well as for distribution and replication.
  • Apply principles of large-scale data processing to analyze concrete information-processing problems.


Lectures and exercise sessions.

See Absalon when the course is set up.

Basic principles of operating systems and/or databases.
Working knowledge of Java, including concurrency and communication mechanisms.
Notions of UNIX / shell scripting are helpful, but not required.

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.

This course was formerly known as "Principles of Computer Systems Design".

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester

Written feedback is provided as comments to assignment solutions in Absalon.
Continuous feedback is provided during exercise classes, where a time window of each class is allocated for Q&A with teaching assistants.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written examination, 4 hours under invigilation
The exam format is that of a written exam of 4 hours under invigilation evaluated on the 7-point grading scale with external examination.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

See Learning Outcome.

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Exam
  • 24
  • Lectures
  • 42
  • Project work
  • 90
  • Theory exercises
  • 50
  • English
  • 206