Asee peer logo

Teaching Operating Systems Concepts with Execution Visualization

Download Paper |


2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Curricular Issues in Computing and Information Technology Programs I

Tagged Division

Computing & Information Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1168.1 - 24.1168.15



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Francis Giraldeau Polytechnique Montreal

visit author page

Francis Giraldeau is a PhD student in Computer Engineering at Polytechnique Montreal. He received a BS degree in Electrical Engineering and an MS degree in Computer Science at the University of Sherbrooke in 2005 and 2010. His current research focuses on the automatic analysis of operating system traces.

visit author page


Michel R. Dagenais Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal

visit author page

Michel Dagenais is professor at Ecole Polytechnique de Montréal and co-founder of the Linux-Québec user group. He authored or co-authored over one hundred scientific publications, as well as numerous free documents and free software packages in the fields of operating systems, distributed systems and multicore systems, in particular in the area of tracing and monitoring Linux systems for performance analysis. In 1995-1996, during a leave of absence, he was the director of software development at Positron Industries and chief architect for the Power911, object oriented, distributed, fault-tolerant, call management system with integrated telephony and databases. In 2001-2002 he spent a sabbatical leave at Ericsson Research Canada, working on the Linux Trace Toolkit, an open source tracing tool for Carrier Grade Linux. The Linux Trace Toolkit next generation is now used throughout the world and is part of several specialised and general purpose Linux distributions.

visit author page

author page

Hanifa Boucheneb École Polytechnique de Montréal

Download Paper |


Introduction to Operating System Concepts with Execution VisualizationWe present a new approach to introduce Operating Systems concepts to Computer Engineeringundergraduate students. These concepts are the basis on which students build a mental model ofthe whole computer in order to make important design decisions throughout their career. Onemajor challenge in teaching Operating Systems is the complexity, intangible andnondeterministic nature of an actual computer system containing many cores operating inparallel.We propose an holistic approach to address this challenge. Using a full open source operatingsystem, a carefully designed set of experiments and novel execution visualization tools, studentscan understand in depth the execution of their own computer and see the effect of running realprograms. A key benefit is to expose runtime delays like system calls, interrupts and scheduling,which leads to improved awareness of program performance implications. We think that using astandard workstation and making its behavior visible is a key factor to increase engagement ofstudents. We describe the five problem solving activities we developed and the purpose of eachtools used. We present outcomes following the first semester using this approach atPolytechnique Montreal.

Giraldeau, F., & Dagenais, M. R., & Boucheneb, H. (2014, June), Teaching Operating Systems Concepts with Execution Visualization Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23101

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2014 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015