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Preface > Preface - Pg. xx

xx Preface several of those courses. The typical response is for the CSE curriculum to require either "choose three" or "take Operating Systems plus two more". The result is that most students end up with no background at all in the remaining topics. In addition, none of the electives can assume that any of the other electives have preceded it, so common material ends up being repeated several times. Finally, students who are not planning to specialize in systems but want to have some background have little choice but to go into depth in one or two specialized areas. This book cuts across all of these courses, identifying common mechanisms and design principles, and explaining in depth a carefully chosen set of cross-cutting ideas. This approach provides an opportunity to teach a core undergraduate course that is accessible to all Computer Science and Engineering students, whether or not they intend to specialize in systems. On the one hand, students who will just be users of systems will take away a solid grounding, while on the other hand those who plan to plan to make a career out of designing systems can learn more advanced material more effectively through electives that have the same names as in the list above but with more depth and less duplication. Both groups will acquire a broad base of what the authors hope are timeless concepts rather than current and possibly short-lived techniques. We have found this course structure to be effec- tive at M.I.T. The book achieves its extensive range of coverage without sacrificing intellectual depth by focusing on underlying and timeless concepts that will serve the student over an entire professional career, rather than providing detailed expositions of the mechanics of operation of current systems that will soon become obsolete. A per- vading philosophy of the book is that pedagogy takes precedence over job train- ing. For example, the text does not teach a particular operating system or rely on a single computer architecture. Instead it introduces models that exhibit the main ideas found in contemporary systems, but in forms less cluttered with evolutionary vestiges. The pedagogical model is that for someone who understands the concepts, the detailed mechanics of operation of any particular system can easily and quickly be acquired from other books or from the documentation of the system itself. At the same time, the text makes concepts concrete using pseudocode fragments, so that students have something specific to examine and to test their understanding of the concepts. FOr WHOM IS tHIS BOOK INteNDeD? The authors intend the book for students and professionals who will Design computer systems. Supervise the design of computer systems. Engineer applications of computer systems to information management. Direct the integration of computer systems within an organization. Evaluate performance of computer systems.