Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering George Mason University Volgenau School of IT & Engineering

General Information

General overview of operating a digital computer. Topics include computer arithmetic, arithmetic unit, hardwired and microprogrammed control, memory, register-to-register, input-output operations, and behavioral modeling of computer organization using VHDL.

Lectures Monday, Wednesday 3:00 pm -4:15 pm in East Building 201
Project Introduction Friday Jan 28th 3:30 pm -4:45 pm in ENGR 3208
Friday Jan 28th 5:00 pm -6:15 pm in ENGR 3208


  • Class Calendar: (pdf)
  • Syllabus: (pdf)


Dr. Jens-Peter Kaps
Office: Engineering Building, Room 3222
Email: jkaps'at'

Office Hours

  • Tuesday 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm
  • Thursday 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm

Additional office hours are by appointment only (see the Contact page for how to setup an appointment).

Teaching Assistant

NameE-Mail Phone Office Office Hours
Panasayya Yallapyalla'at'gmu.edu3-1561ENGR-3204Tr 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
ENGR-3208Fr  4:00 pm - 6:00 pm


  • ECE 331 Digital System Design (grade C or better)
  • ECE 332 Digital Electronics and Logic Design Lab
  • and one of
    • CS 262 Introduction to Low-Level Programming
    • CS 222 Computer Programming for Engineers

As the CS prerequisite is new and some students did not keep themselves up-to-date with the prerequisites I received many requests about waivers for it. I will therefore offer a short exam on Friday January 28th at 2pm in ENGR 4801 in which you have a chance to demonstrate your proficiency in the C language and in programing concepts. The exam will be closed notes and closed books. If you pass that exam I will waive this prerequisite for you for this semester. From next semester (Summer) on all prerequisites have to be fulfilled. I.e. if you fail ECE 445 this semester you have to fulfill the prerequisite when you want to re-take the course.


Computer Organization and Design, The Hardware / Software Interface by David A. Patterson and John L. Hennessy, Morgan Kaufmann; 4th edition, 2008, ISBN: 978-0-12-374493-7.

The old revised 3rd edition, 2007, ISBN: 978-0-12-370606-5, is the better book, however, as it is not easily available we switched to the new 4th edition. If you buy this book, it is your responsibility to match the reading assignments to the chapters of the 4th edition.

The even older 3rd edition from 2005, ISBN: 978-1-55860-604-3, contains many errors. If you buy this one it is your responsibility to make sure that the errors do not create wrong results in assignments and to match the reading assignments to the chapters of the 4th edition.

Recommended Books

Fundamentals of Digital Logic with VHDL Design with CD-ROM by Stephen Brown, Zvonko Vranesic, McGraw-Hill Science/Engineering/Math; 3rd edition (April, 2009), ISBN: 978-0-07-722143-0. This is the old textbook for ECE 331.

The C Programming Language by Kernighan and Ritchie, 2nd edition, Prentice Hall, 1988, ISBN: 978-0-13-110362-7