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 (6.001) and electrical fundamentals (6.002) 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.
This semester (Spring 2000) the format of the course will change: recitations will not be held, instead each week the class will meet as a whole for 3 hours of lecture/demonstration and break into smaller groups for a one-hour "work session" with a TA.