The Cupola: Scholarship at Gettysburg College is proud to host open textbooks, lab manuals, and other learning materials created by Gettysburg College faculty and employees.
If you are the author of higher education learning materials and would like to share them broadly, please be in touch. The Cupola's platform ensures that resources are indexed and discoverable. Usage statistics and search metrics are also provided to authors.
Charles W. Kann III
Most computer users have an incorrect, but useful, cognitive metaphor for computers in which the user says (or types or clicks) something and a mystical, almost intelligent or magical, behavior happens. It is not a stretch to describe computer users as believing computers follow the laws of magic, where some magic incantation is entered, and the computer responds with an expected, but magical, behavior.
This magic computer does not actually exist. In reality computer are machines, and every action a computer performs reduces to a set of mechanical operations. In fact the first complete definition of a working computer was a mechanical machine designed by Charles Babbage in 1834, and would have run on steam power.
Probably the biggest success of Computer Science (CS) in the 20th century was the development of abstractions that hide the mechanical nature of computers. The fact that average people use computers without ever considering that they are mechanistic is a triumph of CS designers.
This purpose of this monograph is to break the abstract understanding of a computer, and to explain a computer’s behavior in completely in mechanistic terms. It will deal specifically with the Central Processing Unit (CPU) of the computer, as this is where the magic happens. All other parts of a computer can be seen as just providing information for the CPU to operate on.
This monograph will deal with a specific type of CPU, a one-address CPU, and will explain this CPU using only standard gates, specifically AND, OR, NOT, NAND and XOR gates, and 4 basic Integrated Circuits (ICs), the Decoder, Multiplexer, Adder, and Flip Flop. All of these gates and components can be described as mechanical transformations of input data to output data, and the overall CPU can then be seen as a mechanical device.
Charles W. Kann
This book was written to introduce students to assembly language programming in MIPS. As with all assembly language programming texts, it covers basic operators and instructions, subprogram calling, loading and storing memory, program control, and the conversion of the assembly language program into machine code.
However this book was not written simply as a book on assembly language programming. The larger purpose of this text is to show how concepts in Higher Level Languages (HLL), such as Java or C/C++, are represented in assembly. By showing how program constructs from these HLL map into assembly, the concepts will be easier to understand and use when the programmer implements programs in languages like Java or C/C++. Concepts such as references and variables, registers, binary and Boolean operations, subprogram execution, memory types (heap, stack, and static), and array processing are covered to clarify the decisions made when implementing HLL. Program control is presented using a mapping from structured programs in pseudo code to help students understand structured programming, and why it exists. Memory access in assembly is presented to high light the difference between references (pointers) and values, and how these impact HLL.
This book has numerous code examples, and many problems at the end of each chapter, and it is appropriate for a class in Assembly Language, or as a extra resource for a class in Computer Organization.
Digital Circuit Projects: An Overview of Digital Circuits Through Implementing Integrated Circuits - Second Edition
Charles W. Kann
Digital circuits, often called Integrated Circuits or ICs, are the central building blocks of a Central Processing Unit (CPU). To understand how a computer works, it is essential to understand the digital circuits which make up the CPU. This text introduces the most important of these digital circuits; adders, decoders, multiplexers, D flip-flops, and simple state machines.
What makes this textbook unique is that it puts the ability to understand these circuits into the hands of anyone, from hobbyists to students studying Computer Science. This text is designed to teach digital circuits using simple projects the reader can implement. But unlike most lab manuals used in classes in Digital Circuits or Computer Organization classes, this textbook is designed to remove the barrier of a laboratory infrastructure needed in a face-to-face environment at a college or university. This textbook is designed to be used by the reader to create the circuits in their own homes. The textbook is free. The cost of the kits needed to do the labs is reasonable. And the projects are well documented and can be implemented by even novices to electronic projects.
This text allows professors to add laboratory projects in digital circuits to students in online classes in Computer Organization. This enhances these classes with interesting and fun exercises that reinforce the classroom topics.
This text can also be used by a hobbyist who wants to learn more about digital circuits and how computers work. The material is presented at a level that someone with no experience in digital circuits and electronics can successfully complete the projects, and gain an understanding of the circuits which go into making up a computer.
The second edition of this includes a chapter on Boolean Algebra for professors who would like to include a more formal background into digital circuits. It also changed the chapter designed to give a context for the CPU to reference a relatively simple CPU developed by the author in Logisim.
For someone who is interested in digital circuits, this book is worth downloading.
Note: Often it is easier to use a MS Word file rather than a pdf file. If you would like the book as a Word document and not a pdf, please contact the author at ckann(at)gettysburg.edu, and he will mail it to you. The main reason for this is to get some sort of feedback on who is using the text.