Foundations in Computer Systems

The written qualifier examination aims at testing the basic understanding of students on undergraduate foundational knowledge in the discipline of computer science. The examination aims to achieve objective evaluation, since all the students answer questions which are set and graded by the same examiners. The examination will focus on concepts pertaining to basic understanding on the discipline and the students' ability to apply that knowledge to problems. In the CS department, the written qualifier consists of two papers (CS5201 Foundations of Theoretical Computer Science and CS5202 Foundations of Computer Systems), both of which are compulsory. This page elaborates CS5202.

CS5202 examination is a 3-hour, open book, written exam. The exam paper consists of four questions, from which students are required to answer three out of the four questions to the satisfaction of the examiners. CS5202 covers the basic areas in computer systems: operating systems, computer networks, database systems, and computer organization/architecture.

Operating Systems

·         Textbook: Modern Operating Systems (3rd Edition), A. S. Tanenbaum

·         Detailed Syllabus from textbook

Computer Networks

·         Textbook: Computer Networking: A Top-Down Approach (5th Edition), J. F. Kurose and K. W. Ross

·         Detailed Syllabus from textbook

Database Systems

·         Textbook: Database Management System, R. Ramakrishnan and J. Gehrke

·         Detailed Syllabus from textbook

Computer Organization

·     Textbook:Computer Organization and Design (4th Edition): The Hardware/Software Interface, D. A. Patterson and J. A. Hennessy. ISBN 9789814396004 .

·         Important notice on textbook: This textbook has multiple different versions, with all the versions having the same title, authors, and edition number. Please pay close attention to the ISBN number of the textbook to ensure that you get the correct version for the QE. It seems that NUS co-op sometimes offer the right version and sometimes offer the wrong version, please be careful when you purchase.

·         Detailed Syllabus from Textbook

CS5202 is a self-study module. Students who lack background in certain topics may find auditing related undergraduate modules helpful.

  • Database Systems: CS2102 Database Systems & CS3223 Database Systems Implementation
  • Computer Networks: CS2105 Introduction to Computer Networks & CS3103 Computer Networks and Protocols
  • Operating Systems: CS2106 Introduction to Operating Systems
  • Computer Organization: CS2100 Computer Organization

Note that the syllabus of these modules tend to be a superset of CS5202's syllabus and may cover the concepts listed above in more depth than is required by CS5202.

Per request from the Graduate Office, this public web page no longer contains past year CS5202 questions. NUS staff and students may click archived exam papers in NUS library to retrieve past year questions.

The current coordinator for CS5202 is Haifeng YU. Questions regarding format and scope of CS5202 may be forwarded the coordinator.