"HW0" - End-to-end systems abstraction

This 3-page writeup is due Wednesday, January 18 by noon Central. This assignment is graded for completion only. I will not evaluate it for correctness.


In this course, we will read and discuss research papers and tools used in cybersecurity. In particular, roughly half the readings as well as the homework assignments deal with what I refer to as "systems programming" — a broad term encompassing concepts like operating systems, C/C++ programming, x86 and ARM assembly, networking protocols, bash scripting, and organizing multiple software components. However, there are no prerequisites for this course. I will happily teach you required foundational materials if you are less familiar with these concepts. To that end, the purpose of this starter assignment is to help me understand your level of preparation with respect to systems programming topics. While I ask that you do your best on this writeup, I will grade it very leniently; you will receive full credit if you turn in a complete writeup.

Scenario: Google Search

Imagine you pull up google.com and type "cybersecurity" in the search bar. You'd see something like this, right?

Now, when you hit enter, the results show up.

Sounds simple, right? In this assignment, consider all of the steps that take place between the time that you hit enter and the time that the search results are rendered in the browser.

Task: 3-page writeup

Conducting a search query is quite an involved process. You must prepare a writeup no longer than 3 pages submitted as a PDF file in which you discuss each step in the scenario described above. You can use the 3 pages however you like — it could be double-spaced paragraphs, bulleted lists, or diagrams.

This is an intentionally open-ended assignment. You must decide what topics you think are most relevant in conducting a search query, and you must decide how most effectively to communicate the steps in the search query process.

Potential discussion points

This is not an exhaustive list, but you might describe some of the following topics:

You do not have to discuss all of these things (though you are welcome to try!).

Discussion and Goals

I am trying to accomplish two things with this assignment.

Deliverable and Grading

You must turn in a PDF document that is 3 pages or fewer.

Submissions can be made via the submission system.