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Welcome to CS 130: Computer Organization and Assembly Language Programming! This course explores how computer software interacts with the physical hardware of computing devices. You will learn:

  1. Digital Logic: The basic logic and hardware gates that carry out the CPU instructions at the nanoscale
  2. Computer Organization: Design and tradeoffs of CPU architecture, with special emphasis on MIPS.
  3. Assembly Language Programming: Writing and interpreting the low-level CPU assembly language of MIPS processors.

At the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Translate programs written in a high-level language such as Java or C to an assembly language,
  • Write simple computer programs directly in an assembly language,
  • Explain how assembly instructions are encoded in binary,
  • Explain how assembly instructions are executed by CPUs,
  • Construct sequential logic circuits using digital logic gates and explain the basic components and design principles of modern computer architecture.

Check out the Schedule page for a detailed survey of the topics covered in the course.


The textbook for the course is provided for free by Cowles Library in an electronic format. The text we will be using is:

This textbook is FANTASTIC, has won awards, and we will be frequently referring to it throughout the course.

Readings are linked directly to the corresponding chapter of the text on the Schedule page. If you have trouble accessing the textbook, please reach out to your instructor as soon as possible.

Activities / Grading

Your grade in this course is determined by:

Quizzes 20% Midterm Exams 10% (each)
Assignments 30% Final Exam 20%
Participation ±5%    

The grading scale for the course is as follows.

A 93–100% C+ 77–80%
A- 90–93% C 73–77%
B+ 87–90% C- 70–73%
B 83–87% D 60–70%
B- 80–83% F 0–60%

NOTE: Grades will not be curved in this course; however, I reserve the right to change the above scale in your favor. This is to avoid punishing students for making an exam too long, etc.

Grades for quizzes, exams, and assingments will be posted on Gradescope rather than Blackboard. You will set up your Gradescope account while working on Assignment 1.


There will be seven short quizzes covering the key ideas from recent material covered in the course. These quizzes are designed to give you prompt feedback on your understanding of the material. If you (or the class as a whole) are missing a key concept, I want to revisit that concept as soon as possible. Studies also show that quizzes are an extremely effective learning device!

Check the Schedule page to see when the quizzes are scheduled.


There are three 75-minute midterm exams scheduled on the following dates. These can also be found on the Schedule page.

  • Midterm Exam 1: Monday, September 27, 2021
  • Midterm Exam 2: Wednesday, October 27, 2021
  • Midterm Exam 3: Monday, November 22, 2021

NOTE: The dates of the exams may change if Drake University combines Fall Break and Thanksgiving Break.

There is also a cumulative 110-minute final exam during the final examinations week at the end of the term. The date and time of the exam will be announced later in the course.


Several assignments will be given during the semester. Most assignments will be individual, but some might be groups. You can find the due dates on the Assignments page and the Schedule page.


Your participation in the course is key to you fully grasping the material. Thus, your participation grade will be calculated based on the following factors:

  • coming to class on time,
  • coming to class prepared,
  • asking questions when appropriate,
  • making positive contributions to class discussion,
  • staying on task during in-class exercises, and
  • working effectively in groups.


Class attendance is extremely important for your learning. If you cannot attend class for any reason, please let me know in advance or as soon as possible.

Most class periods will be recorded and posted on Blackboard.

Course Policies


Deadlines in this course are firm, and late submissions will generally not be accepted. Please plan your week accordingly and start your assignments early!

NOTE: I do recognize that there are exceptional circumstances due to family emergencies, sickness, etc., and I am willing to work with you through these situations. Please reach out to me immediately if such a circumstance arises, and I will consider granting an extension.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Drake University is committed to providing equitable access to learning opportunities for all students. The Disability Services office (107 Old Main) collaborates with students who have disabilities to provide and/or arrange reasonable accommodations. If you have, or think you may have, a disability (e.g., mental health, attentional, learning, autism spectrum disorders, chronic health, traumatic brain injury and concussions, vision, hearing, mobility, or speech impairments), please contact

to arrange a confidential discussion regarding equitable access and reasonable accommodations.

Academic Integrity

Drake University has high standards for academic integrity, and you are expected to read the Academic Dishonesty Policy from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Below is a particularly relevant excerpt from the statement:

Academic dishonesty is an all encompassing term involving any activity that seeks to gain credit for work one has not done or to deliberately damage or destroy the work of others. Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, plagiarism, cheating, fabrication, and knowingly helping another to commit an act of academic dishonesty.

Below are some examples of how Drake’s policy applies to this course:

  • You may discuss concepts described in the readings or during class with anyone.
  • All the work you submit must be your own or that of your group. If your work is part of a group, you need not identify the work of each individual in the group.
  • You must acknowledge and attribute any conceptual contributions by individuals not in your group or from online sources. That is, you must give specific attribution for any assistance you receive. (This includes the instructor.) The suggested acknowledgment format is: “[Source X] helped me to do [thing Y] by [explaining Z].”
  • You are responsible for safeguarding your work from being copied by others.

Getting Help


Feel free to reach out to me at any time. The quickest way to get a hold of me is to message me on Microsoft Teams. You may also schedule an appointment with me on Calendly.

To handle individual appointments safely, my office hours will be held virtually on Zoom. They will also be generally held 2:30–4:30 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Use the Calendly link to schedule an appointment.

NOTE: If you cannot make any of the times listed, feel free to message me on Microsoft Teams or send me an email.

Academic Success Resources

Check out the Academic Success website. It includes a page for Skills for Success with excellent tips for management classwork. You may also find the following resources useful:

COVID-19 Policies

Wearing Masks

In class, we will all wear masks to minimize the likelihood of the spread of COVID. Doing so is not only a requirement in my class, but is also a campus-wide policy. I will ask those who choose not to wear a mask to leave the classroom and, following guidance from the Provost’s office, I will alert the dean of students’ office. As a last resort, if a student without a mask refuses to leave class, I will contact Drake Public Safety.


Students should email Contact Tracing at regarding the following:

  1. Any symptoms currently considered to be associated with COVID-19 as indicated by the CDC including a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher,
  2. A personal diagnosis of COVID-19, or
  3. Close personal contact (defined as being within 6 feet for 15 minutes or longer) with anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Any student who experiences COVID-19 symptoms should contact the Drake Student Health Center to be seen during clinic hours. To schedule an appointment, please call 515-271-3731. If you seek testing off campus and receive a positive test result, immediately share that information with

Additional Information

Please visit, which houses a repository of campus updates and messages pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic and provides answers to many frequently asked questions.

The Quarantine and Isolation FAQ may also be useful.