6.004
Computation Structures

Prereq: Physics II (GIR)
U (Fall, Spring)
4-3-8
Introduces architecture of digital systems, emphasizing structural principles common to a wide range of technologies. Multilevel implementation strategies; definition of new primitives (e.g., gates, instructions, procedures, processes) and their mechanization using lower-level elements. Analysis of potential concurrency; precedence constraints and performance measures; pipelined and multidimensional systems. Instruction set design issues; architectural support for contemporary software structures. 4 Engineering Design Points.

6.004 offers an introduction to the engineering of digital systems. Starting with MOS transistors, the course develops of series of building blocks -- logic gates, combinational and sequential circuits, finite-state machines, computers and finally complete systems. Both hardware and software mechanisms are explored through a series of design examples.

6.004 is required material for any EECS undergraduate who wants to understand (and ultimately design) digital systems. A good grasp of the material is essential for later courses in digital design, computer architecture and systems. Before taking 6.004, students should feel comfortable using computers; a rudimentary knowledge of programming language concepts and electrical fundamentals is assumed.

The problem sets and lab exercises are intended to give students "hands-on" experience in designing digital systems; each student completes a gate-level design for a RISC processor during the semester. Access to workstations as well as help from the course staff is provided in the lab but it is possible to complete the assignments using Athena machines or one's home computer. Students are encouraged to get help from others in understanding the material, but the designs and measurements they hand in must be their own work.