Official Academic Guide course description

The subjects covered in this course include C and assembly language programming, translation of high-level programs into machine language, computer organization, caches, performance measurement, parallelism, CPU design, warehouse-scale computing, and related topics.


CS61A and CS61B (or equivalents). The CS61B requirement can be bypassed if you have solid experience with a C-based programming language.

Optional Reading

There is no official textbook for this class. However, there are three optional textbooks as additional references:

  • P&H: The first edition of Patterson and Hennessy's Computer Organization and Design RISC-V Edition book ("P&H"), ISBN 0128122757.
  • K&R: The C Programming Language, Second Edition by Kernighan and Ritchie. Other C programming books are also suitable if you are already comfortable with them, but our lectures will be based on K&R.
  • WSC: The Datacenter as a Computer: An Introduction to the Design of Warehouse-Scale Machines, which is freely available on our website.

Please contact staff on Piazza if you have trouble finding or paying for these textbooks.

Teaching Plan

Here's the overall summary of all the elements of the course:

LectureWe will have a 90-minute live lecture on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11:00 AM–12:30 PM. For the first two weeks, we will only have online lectures. Afterwards, lectures may take place in Wheeler 150. Recordings will be made available after the lecture. We may also have an option to live-stream lectures over Zoom but this is not yet confirmed.
LabLabs will be autograded on Gradescope. You can attend any lab section you want. You may optionally work on labs with one partner.
DiscussionBoth in person and remote 1-hour discussions will be held once per week at different times. A pre-recorded "archival-quality" discussion of TAs going over the worksheet is also available. Attendance is not taken, and you can attend any discussion section you want.
Office HoursTAs and instructors will hold office hours both on Zoom and in person.
ExamsMidterm: 2 hours, Thursday, March 3, 2022 7:00-9:00 PM PT
Final: Thursday, May 12, 2022 8:00-11:00 AM PT
Logistics will be announced in the weeks leading to the exam.

Office Hours

We hope you take advantage of the office hours we have scheduled this term, and we will support both in-person and remote office hours. When coming to office hours for lab or project help, there are some policies you'll need to abide by.

Please do not expect TAs to debug your code. This is not a good use of their time, and part of the goal of this course is to turn you into a great tester and debugger. However, the TAs can help you find and fix your bugs.

Therefore, before coming to office hours, you should have:

  • Run valgrind and fixed all memory leaks/ & compiler warnings
  • Written a test that isolates/demonstrates the issue (NOT a staff-provided test)
  • Stepped through the test with a debugger to find the area of code with the issue
  • Checked that the problem still occurs on the hive machines, unless the assignment supports local machines

If you have not completed all of the items above, a TA will request that you complete them before they can help you. There are instructions for testing as part of all project specifications, and the first few labs cover Valgrind, (C)GDB, and debugging.

Please mark your tickets as conceptual or debugging. For conceptual tickets, TAs will help groups of students at a time (shorter wait time) but cannot look at code. For debugging tickets, TAs will look at you or your group's code, but time per ticket may be limited if the queue is long.


All important course announcements will be made on Piazza (the course discussion forum). We will be automatically enrolling everyone.

Piazza Etiquette

  • Search before posting. Your question may have already been answered by us or other students in the past. Reading other students' posts will let you refine your question, and gives us more time to answer new questions.
  • Link and screenshot any external resources you are referring to (exams, discussion, StackOverflow, lecture slides + webcast time/video). It is more convenient for us and other students to look at the screenshot and follow the link if we need more context on the question. It will also substantially decrease the time it takes for us to answer your question.
  • Try to avoid open-ended or vague questions such as: "How does C work?" or "How come the solution to a discussion problem is this?". If you walk us through your thoughts and reference specific lines that you find confusing, we can better address the problem you are facing. Being specific helps us uncover any misunderstandings that you may have.
  • Post questions about assignments as public follow-ups on the corresponding assignment post. For example, post your questions about Homework 1 on the Homework 1 post. If your question is too detailed or revealing to fit as a follow-up, your question would be better answered during office hours.
  • Only post in the "Student Answer" box if you are fairly certain about your answer. Do not post follow-up questions or +1 in the student answer. Posting in the "Student Answer" section marks a post as resolved and will likely be missed. Use follow-ups to follow-up while leaving the overall post unresolved.
  • No follow-up +1's. Instead, you should use the Helpful! button on a question/follow-up. Excessive +1 follow-ups clutter the post and make it more difficult to get to the unresolved follow-ups. If you’d like to get updates on a post, use the Follow option.
  • If you want a reply on a follow-up, mark it as unresolved, or we may not see it.
  • If you reply to a follow-up answering the question at hand, mark the follow-up as resolved, since it no longer requires attention.

Computer Resources

Note: If you are blocked from accessing our resources, you can use the campus VPN: https://www.lib.berkeley.edu/using-the-libraries/vpn.

Computer Accounts

You will need a CS 61C class account to access computer labs and instructional servers for assignments. Accounts are available starting with the first day of instruction, and will be covered in Lab 0.

Computer Labs

Registered students get 24/7 cardkey access to the computer labs in Soda Hall (Soda 271, 273, 275, 277, and 330). Please be mindful of the fact that we share these lab spaces with other CS classes, and please follow the Rules of Conduct on EECS Instructional Computers.

You can also remotely connect to instructional computers for class work. This will be covered in Lab 0.


In order to foster a collaborative environment, CS61C is graded on a fixed scale. The course is graded out of 300 points, with the following mappings from points to letter grades:

Raw ScoreGrade

In the event that our distribution does not align with the EECS departmental guidelines, we may decrease the raw score boundaries, but they will not increase (i.e. it is possible to receive a higher grade than the mapping suggests, but not a lower one). Please note that we will not include PNP students or Incompletes in any adjustments we do.

We will compute grades from a weighted average, as follows:

AssignmentPercentage of Grade
Labs10% (30 points)
Homework10% (30 points)
Project 110% (30 points)
Project 210% (30 points)
Project 310% (30 points)
Project 410% (30 points)
Midterm15% (45 points)
Final25% (75 points)

Below, you will find sections describing some of these assignment types.

Exam Clobbering

If you take the midterm and score better on the final, we will use the z-score of your final exam score to replace your midterm score.


Any assignment which is due by the end of the day is due by 11:59:59PM Pacific Time.


We will offer both in-person and remote labs. Labs are designed to give you some hands-on experience with the course material. Labs will be autograded on Gradescope.

This semester, there will be no mandatory attendance or checkoffs involved in lab assignments. Your grade will be entirely based on your lab autograder score. We are attempting a new lab format this semester, where lab sections will be guided by the TA, and you can expect to complete the assignments within two hours if you attend a lab section. You may attend any lab section. You may also choose to complete the lab assignment outside of lab sections either alone or with a partner. If you complete a lab with a partner, make sure to add your partner on your final Gradescope submission.

For full credit, labs must be finished in the week they are assigned. You can get up to half credit for submitting in the week after. We will automatically drop your lowest lab score.


Homework is designed to let you practice the week's material. We encourage you to work on the homework problems in small groups, but each student is required to turn in a solution that they have written themselves. Homework is submitted online through PrairieLearn and graded on correctness.

For each day that a homework submission is late, 1/3 of your points will be deducted. The lateness penalty rounds up to the nearest day - that is, an assignment that is 1 day and 5 seconds late will receive a 2/3 late penalty. We will automatically drop your lowest homework score.


Projects are designed to give you heavy-duty experience with the application of course content. Projects are graded on correctness. You may optionally work with one partner for each project. If you want to change your partner mid assignment, contact the course staff directly. If you complete a project with a partner, make sure to add your partner on your final Gradescope submission.

For each day that a project submission is late, 1/3 of your points will be deducted. The lateness penalty rounds up to the nearest hour - that is, an assignment that is 1 day and 5 seconds late will receive a 2/3 late penalty.

You have 10 project slip days, which can reduce your late penalty for a project by 1 day each. Assignments are capped individually at 4 slip days each, with parts A and B of each project counting separately. We will automatically apply slip days to your active project submissions to maximize your total score. Slip days are consumed independently for each partner, but extensions will apply to both.

Projects are difficult, so don't worry if you don't get 100% on projects! You should ensure you have "activated" the submission you want to use as your final grade. You may change your "active" submission up until the late due date. We will not change your project submission after the late due date passes. We do not want you to use the autograder as an oracle, since much of programming is actually testing your code.

Academic Integrity

We believe that most students can distinguish between helping other students understand course material and cheating. Explaining a subtle point from lecture or discussing course topics is an interaction that we encourage, but you must write your solutions strictly by yourself. You must not ask for homework/project solutions on Stack Overflow or other online sites; although you may ask for help with conceptual questions. You must not receive help on assignments from students who have taken the course in previous years, and you must not review homework or project solutions from previous years.

You must ensure that your solutions will not be visible to other students. If you use GitHub or another code hosting platform to store your solutions electronically, you must ensure your account is configured so your solutions are not publicly visible. Many platforms offer free private repositories that allow you to keep your solutions private.

Warning: Please take a moment to review the Department Policy on Academic Misconduct. In particular, you should be aware that copying or sharing solutions, in whole or in part, from other students in the class or any other source without acknowledgement constitutes cheating.

As both current and former students, we understand that desperate times can lead to desperate measures. If you feel like you cannot succeed on your own in the course, let us know! We are here to support you.


For assignments that allow partners, you may collaborate however you like with your partner, as long as you follow the policies above. For example, sharing code with your partner is fine, but sharing code with other groups is not.

Cheating Detection

We will be running advanced plagiarism detection programs. The tools and methods for detecting cheating have been developed over the course of many years, and attempting to obfuscate your code to avoid detection:

  1. won't work
  2. will be penalized


Plagiarism on any assignment will be reported to the Center for Student Conduct. The CSC treats most first-time offenses as a Non-Reportable Warning. Additionally we will assign a grade penalty. The minimum penalty for cheating on an assignment is negative points, so if an assignment is worth 10 points you will receive -10 points. This means even if there is just a 50% chance that you are caught it is better to not do the work than attempt to cheat. A second instance of plagiarism on an assignment will result in an F in the course.

Disabled Students' Program

The Disabled Students' Program (DSP) supports disabled students at UC Berkeley. They offer a wide range of services and accommodations. If you are facing barriers in school due to a disability, apply to DSP!

Students registered with DSP can expect to receive an onboarding email within a week of sending us your formal letter of accommodation through the DSP portal.

As instructors, our goal is to teach you the material in our course. The more accessible we can make it, the better.

Accommodations and Extensions

Some forms:

  • Extension Requests: This is to request extensions on deadlines for any assignments.
    • Requests will be reviewed approximately every two business days.
    • Note that approved lab extensions are rounded up to a week so you can attend your desired section.
    • Extensions may not be visible on Gradescope and PrairieLearn, but they will show up on grading reports.
    • You can submit an extension request at any time, including after a deadline.
  • Extenuating Circumstances: This form is for any circumstances that can't be resolved with extensions or lab section changes. Don't be afraid to reach out! We're here to help you succeed in our course.

Extenuating Circumstances and Inclusion

We recognize that our students come from varied backgrounds and have widely-varying experiences. If you encounter extenuating circumstances, please do not hesitate to let us know. The sooner we are made aware, the more options we have available to us to help.

In addition, in scheduling exams, we have attempted to avoid conflicts with major religious holidays. If, however, we have inadvertently scheduled an exam or major deadline that creates a conflict with your religious observances, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can make other arrangements.


If something is said in class (by anyone) that makes you feel uncomfortable, disrespected, or excluded by a staff member or fellow student, please report the incident so that we can work to address the issue and create a more supportive and inclusive learning environment. Some options:

Campus Resources

Your mental health is more important than this course. Seriously. If you're feeling overwhelmed or not in control, talk to us and we'll try to help. Counselling and Psychological Services (CAPS) has multiple free, confidential services:

Also check out UHS's mental health resources

Support is also available for survivors of sexual violence or harassment. While course staff are Responsible Employees for such incidents, we do have free, confidential services available on campus:

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 24-hour number any student or faculty/staff person can call to speak with someone about suicide: (800) 273-TALK (8255).

Land Statement

We recognize that Berkeley sits on the territory of Huichin, the ancestral and unceded land of the Chochenyo Ohlone, the successors of the historic and sovereign Verona Band of Alameda County. This land was and continues to be of great importance to the Ohlone people. We recognize that every member of the Berkeley community has, and continues to benefit from the use and occupation of this land, since the institution’s founding in 1868. Consistent with our values of community and diversity, we have a responsibility to acknowledge and make visible the university’s relationship to Native peoples. By offering this Land Acknowledgment, we affirm Indigenous sovereignty and will work to hold University of California Berkeley more accountable to the needs of American Indian and Indigenous peoples.