Category Archives: Coding

Computer Architecture – Nand2Tetris (Week 5)

  1. Von Neumann Architecture
    • Computer can run any kind of software
    • Memory stores data and programs
    • CPU carries out instructions
    • CPU has two main parts: ALU and registers
    • 3 Types of info: 1) data, 2) address (what instruction or piece of data), 3) control (what system should do)
    • Wires implemented with buses
    • ALU takes numbers, does stuff, and feeds output back to data bus
    • Registers store intermediate results. Info moves from data bus to registers and vice versa
    • Memory: data memory and program memory
  2. Fetch-Execute Cycle
    • Instructions need to be fetched and then executed
    • Fetch
      • put location of next instruction into the address of program memory
      • get instruction code by reading memory contents of location
      • next instruction usually +1, but can jump / output this to program counter
    • Execute
      • different subsets of bits control different aspects
      • feeds into control bus and tells ALU what to do
    • there is clash between fetch and execute cycle (data when executing and instruction when fetching)
    • This will be simplified in hack computer by having different memory modules (harvard architecture)
  3. Central Processing Unit
    • determines which instruction runs next
    • executes the current instruction, figure out what to execute next
    • Input
      • inM from Data Memory 16-bit
      • instruction from instruction memory 16-bit
      • reset from user 1-bit
    • Output
      • outM 16-bit (what to write)
      • writeM 1-bit (enables write)
      • addressM 15-bit (where)
      • PC 15-bit (next instruction)
    • CPU architecture is outlined in the lecture based on chips from previous project.
    • CPU needs to decode Op code and handle A-instructions and C-instructions
    • Reset bit makes PC start from beginning
  4. The Hack Computer
    • if right hand side has M, value is read from inM
    • if on left, the ALU output is stored in main memory
    • Data Memory has 3 chips: RAM, screen, keyboard
    • ROM32K will have instruction memory (read-only and contains a sequence of Hack instructions)

Machine Language – Nand2Tetris (Week 4)

  1. Machine Language Overview
    • Before implementing language want to get some familiarity using it
    • goal is universality, meaning same hardware can run many different software programs
    • universal turing machine (theory) and von Neumann architecture (practice)
    • Machine Language has 1) Operations 2) Program Counter and 3) Address
    • machine language are in bits (0/1)
    • Machine Language is not convenient to program in which is why we have compilers for translating higher level languages
    • If we want to be this low level , use assembly, which is a symbolic version of machine language
    • an assembler can convert assembly to machine language
  2. Machine Language Elements
    • should support operations and how program is controlled
    • usually machine language has close correspondence with the hardware architecture
    • some simple operations (add, sub, and, or, goto, etc)
    • others have other operations e.g. division and data types (e.g floating point)
    • There is usually a memory hierarchy: registers -> cache -> main -> disk
    • speed/cost trade off
    • all CPUs have some registers so no delay in accessing those values
      • Data Registers
      • Address Registers
      • Direct           // Add R1, M[200]
      • Indirect        //  Add R1, @A
      • Immediate  // Add 73, R1
    • There are also many I/O devices (keyboard, mouse, camera, etc) and we connect them as memory
  3. Hack Machine Language
    • [instruction memory] –instructions–> [CPU] . <–data in/data out–> [data memory]
    • Data Memory (RAM): sequence of 16-bit registers e.g. RAM[0], RAM[1]
    • Instruction memory: Seq of 16-bit registers
    • CPU performs 16-bit instructions
    • There are instruction, data, and address bus
    • A-instructions set the A (address) register and have syntax like “@21” which selects RAM[21]. Before acting on memory you need to select the register
    • C-instructions are computations i.e. 0, 1, -1, D, A, !D, !A, -A, D+1, A+1, D-1, A-1, D+A, D-A, A-D, D&A, D|A     // . (A can be replaced with M)
    • dest can be null, M, D, MD, A, AM, AD, AMD  // can output to multiple containers
    • Jump instructions null, JGT (>0), JEQ (==0), JGE (>=0), JLT ( <0), JLE (<=0), JNE (!=0), JMP (jump)
    • D=-1     // set D register to -1 
      @300     // set A (Address Register) to 300
      M=D-1    // set RAM[300] to value of D-register minus 1
      @56      // set A register to 56
      D-1; JEQ // if D-1 is equal to 0, jump to 56
  4. Hack Language Specification
    • symbolic syntax has associated binary
    • A register value is based on addresss space
    • binary is split up: 1-bit op code, 2-bits not used, 7-bit computation, 3-bits for destination, 3 bits for jump (total of 16 bits)
  5. Input/Output
    • Screen
      • For a screen need to translate a screen memory map (256 rows & 512 columns) to corresponding registers
      • will require 8k 16-bit words
      • 32 chunks correspond to a row
      • i = 32*row + col/16
      • we will assume we have a 8k chip called screen
    • Keyboard
      • only need 16-bits to represent
      • memory map will be 0 if nothing is pressed
  6. Hack Programming
    • Use CPU emulator to translate and load assembly language
    • use jumps to implement branching (e.g. if else while)
    • make readable by setting symbolic references
    • (END)
        0; JMP // this will jump back to line 1
    • use variables e.g. @name. will find some available memory
    • helps to start with pseudo-code and/or use a trace-table
    • variables that store memory addresses are called pointers

Memory – Nand2Tetris (Week 3)

  1. Sequential Logic
    • need a notion of things happening after another
    • must be able to reuse hardware to compute multiple things and remember state
    • we break up time into discrete units which helps us think about things in cycles / units
    • combinatorial: input and output happens at same time unit out[t] = function(in[t])
    • sequential: out[t] = function(in[t-1])
  2. Flip Flips
    • Need something to remember bits of information
    • flip flop (DFF) goes to 0 and back to 1
    • we will treat this as a primitive operation
    • First chip we will design will remember its information forever unless we set the load
  3. Memory Units
    • main memory: RAM
    • secondary memory: disks, memory chips
    • volatile/non-volatile
    • We will tend to focus on logical perspectives vs physical
    • we can combine single bit chips to make registers
    • registers will store some value “register state”
    • we can read a register by probing the output
    • registers are the building blocks of memory
    • RAM Abstraction: sequence of n addressable registers 0 to n-1
    • only one register in RAM is selected at a time
    • width of address input can be represented by k = log 2 n
    • to read from ram set address = i and out emits the state of register i
    • to write, set address = i, in = v, and load = 1 and out will emit v
    • Random Access Memory: any address access is basically instantaneous
  4. Counters
    • counter tells what instruction to do next
    • must be able to reset (set to 0), next (inc 1), and goto (set n)
  5. Project 3
    • Will start with chips from project 1, project 2, and DFF gate
    • Will build Bit, Register, RAM8, RAM64, RAM512, RAM4K, RAM16K, PC (Program Counter)
    • 1 Bit – can be built from DFF and multiplexor
    • 16-Bit – multiple 1-Bit registers
    • 8-Register RAM – feed the in value to all registers at same time. use mux/demux to select exact registers
    • stack in recursively ascending manner to build bigger ones
    • think of address input as having two fields: 1) select RAM part 2) select register w/in the RAM part
    • use mux/demux to effect this addressing scheme
    • PC – can be built from register, an incrementer, and some logic gates
  6. Perspectives
    • Flip flop gates can be implemented with NAND gates that loop output to each other which allows storing of state
    • RAM is most important and volatile
    • ROM (Read only memory) is non-volatile and has code for booting process
    • flash memory: combines good from both RAM and ROM. Is read/write and non-volatile
    • cache memory: there is cost trade-off between faster memory. can use hierarchy of smaller more expensive/faster memory. this lets you have small fast/expensive memory and large/cheap memory and still have good performance
    • all memory is based on registers though

Boolean Arithmetic and the ALU – Nand2Tetris (Week 2)

  1. Binary Numbers
    • 0s and 1s can represent integers based on 2^n
    • computers we usually have a fixed number of bits
    • unsigned 8 bit can represent 256 different possibilities
  2. Binary Addition
    • We want to add, subtract, multiply and divide
    • we will implement multiplication and division in software
    • machine add binary with carry numbers
    • for overflows we ignore the most significant carry number
    • is not true integer addition, but module (2^wordsize)
    • half adder takes in a, b and outputs sum and carry
    • full adder takes in a, b, c and outputs sum and carry
    • add multiple bits with full adders and a half adder at last step
  3. Negative numbers
    • We give up half of our possibilities for negative values
    • Could use the most significant digit as negative signal, but have repetitive zeros and makes manipulation difficult
    • two’s complement the most significant position is negative
    • pos number range: 0.. 2^(2-1) -1
    • neg number range: -1 .. -2^(n-1)
    • This gives us addition and subtraction for free
    • If we can get number negation (pos to negative) we get subtraction
    • 2^n – x = 1 + ((2^n) -1) – x
    • e.g. (11111 – 10101) + 1
  4. ALU (Arithmetic Logic Unit)
    • computes a function on two inputs
    • we will take in x (16 bits), y (16 bit), and the following:
      • zx: if zx then x = 0
      • nx: if nx then x = !x
      • zy: if zy then y = 0
      • ny: if ny then y = !y
      • f: if f then out = x+y else x&y
      • no: if no then out = !out
    • output: out, zr, ng
  5. Project 2
    • Half-Adder: sum can be implemented with XOR and carry with AND
    • Full-Adder: can be built from two half-adders
    • 16-bit adder: n full-address chips. carry bit is piped from right to left. drop most significant carry
    • 16-bit Incrementor
    • ALU: build with 16 bit adders. can do with less than 20 lines in HDL
  6. Perspectives
    • Are these chips standard? most, but not the ALU. simplified.
    • How come ALU doesn’t have more operations? Opted for simplicity. can implement in software.
    • Are these efficient? Most are except the adder. made up of multiple full-adders and needs to iterate over them for the carry. Can use carry look ahead to optimize.
    • Why is it recommended to use built-in chips? Local failures. So we know mistakes are only from the current project. unit testing. focus on just the interface.

Boolean Functions and Gate Logic – Nand2Tetris (Week 1)

  1. Boolean Logic
    • 0/1, True/False, On/Off, Yes/No, Positive/Negative
    • AND, OR, NOT are simple operators
    • We can combine e.g. NOT(0 OR (1 AND 1))
    • They can be generalized e.g. f(x,y,z) = (x AND y) OR (NOT(x) AND z)
    • All combos can be expressed as a truth table
    • Can follow communicative, associative and distributive laws
      • communicative: (x AND y) = (y AND x)
      • associative: (x AND (y AND z)) = ((x AND y) AND z)
      • distributive: (x AND (y OR z)) = (x AND y) OR (x AND z)
      • De Morgan’s Law: NOT(x AND y) = NOT(x) OR NOT(y)
  2. Boolean Functions Synthesis
    • Can compose from truth tables
    • Construct functions by going line by line of a truth table and tacking on an OR
    • NAND function can represent AND, NOT, and OR
    • NAND is negation of x and y. outputs 0 if x and y = 1 else 1.
    • NOT(x) = (x NAND x) // 0 input will always be 1 and 1 input will always be 0
    • (x AND y) = NOT(x NAND y) // 1 only if x and y are 1
  3. Logic Gates
    • chips can be thought of as simple logic gates
    • can combine to build other logic gates
    • interface is abstraction that describes what it’s doing
    • there should only be 1 abstraction/interface, but can be multiple implementations
  4. Hardware Description Language (HDL)
    • language for specifying these logic gates
    • Interface will be something like “IN a, b” and “OUT out”
    • Implementation will be statements such as “Not(in=a, out=nota)” (describe intermediary connections with names)
    • Some common HDLs in industry: VHDL and Verilog
  5. Hardware Simulation
    • included with class
    • can run interactive or systematic tests
    • compare files can be used to compare output and test for accuracy
    • compare files can be created with high level language
    • Typically designer (teacher) decides what sub-chips required and API and the developers (students in this course) will implement
  6. Multi-Bit Buses
    • A bunch of bits can be described as a bus
    • described with e.g. A[16], a[0..7] = lsb
    • buses are indexed right to left
    • In a 16 bit bus, A[0] is right most bit and a[15] is left-most or most-significant bit
  7. Project 1 Overview
    • Start with NAND which will be given and will build a computer
    • Will start with 15 gates
    • Multiplexor: takes in 3 inputs a,b,sel and 1 output (out). out is a if sel == 0 else b
    • Demultiplexor: takes in a input, sel and outputs to a or b based on sel
    • practical application of multiplexor and demultiplexor is sending 2 groups of data in one stream over a network and splitting out at the end
    • Try to build chips in order
    • You can design helper chips like methods, but shouldn’t need to and is discouraged
    • Use as few parts as possible
  8. Perspective (FAQs)
    • Can you start with something other than NAND? You can use NOR or AND, NOT, OR, but NAND is popular bc cheap to build and used a lot already
    • How are NAND gates implemented? We try to stay away bc more physics and electrical engineering than CS. One example is a positive and negative charge between an output and two transistors. If the input a and b are active, the negative charge becomes output. A bit outdated, many implementations. (+) (output) (a) (b) (-)
    • How does the HDL we use compare to ones used in industry? Simpler, but is all we need to build our computers or any computer. Others are more advanced, but more complex.
    • How do you design complex chips? Some optimizers, but not perfect algorithm. NP complete problem. Like any software. modularity and abstraction. easier to optimize simpler components.

Introduction – Nand2Tetris (Week 1)

  • Intro
    • In part 1, we will build a simple general purpose computer focusing on hardware
    • In part2, we will build the software hierarchy to write and run programs
    • how things are done is the implementation and what we are doing is abstraction
    • one we’ve implemented, we can just worry about the interface and build on top of it
    • each week we will implement something and build on top of it
  • Part 1
    • This is EE / physics
    • will start with NAND gate and use to build logic gates, chip set and a computer architecure
    • Use hardware simulator
  • Projects
    • week 1: build 15 logic gates
    • week 2: arithmetic logic unit
    • week 3: memory systems
    • week 4: low-level programs
    • week 5: computer architecture
    • week 6: assembler
    • Result will be the HACK computer which is general purpose
  • Part 2
    • will build higher level language, compiler, std library and an operating system

Two’s Complement

Two’s complement is a way to represent positive and negative integers in binary format. In order to convert a positive binary number to the two’s complement negative number, you invert the bits and add 1.

Let’s say we have an 8-bit integer ‘00001000’ representing 8. We would get ‘11110111’ and then ‘11111000’ when we add the 1. The advantage of using two’s complement is that we can use regular math with the two’s complement version of the negative number. If we were to add 8, to ‘11111000’, the most significant number would overflow and we would go back to ‘00000000’. The two’s complement has a 1 at the most significant bit and accounts for half of the range.

1.8 Zero Matrix – CCI

  • find cols and rows that have a zero
  • set value of coords with those cols or rows to zero
# [1.8] Zero Matrix: Write an algorithm such that if an element
# in an MxN matrix is 0, its entire row and columns are set to 0.

#Time Complexity: O(MN)
#Space Complexity: O(M+N)

import unittest

def set_zeros(matrix):
    # don't do in place, because entire matrix
    # can end up with zeros
    cols = set()
    rows = set()

    for row_index, row in enumerate(matrix):
        for col_index, val in enumerate(row):
            #keep track of rows and columns with 0
            if val == 0:

    # traverse matrix and set coord to zero
    # if row or col is in set
    for row_index, row in enumerate(matrix):
        for col_index, val in enumerate(row):
            if row_index in rows or col_index in cols:
                matrix[row_index][col_index] = 0

    return matrix

class Test(unittest.TestCase):
    m1 = [
    m1_after = [

    m2 = [
    m2_after = [

    m3 = [
    m3_after = [

    def test_set_zeros(self):

if __name__ == '__main__':
  • We can improve the space complexity to O(1)
  • Use the first row and the first col as flags
  • these flags indicate whether that row or col should be zero
  • Need to separately check if first row or col is zero
import unittest

def set_zeros2(matrix):
    #Time Complexity: O(MN)
    #Space Complexity: O(1)
    if not matrix:
        raise Exception("Matrix is empty")

    rows = len(matrix)
    cols = len(matrix[0])

    first_row_zero = False
    first_col_zero = False

    # check if zero is in first row
    if 0 in matrix[0]:
        first_row_zero = True

    # check if zero is in first column
    for row in matrix:
        if row[0] == 0:
            first_col_zero = True

    for row_index in xrange(1,rows):
        for col_index in xrange(1, cols):
            # use the first row and the first col
            # to tell us if that row or column should
            # be set to zero
            if matrix[row_index][col_index] == 0:
                matrix[0][col_index] = 0
                matrix[row_index][0] = 0

    # go through each row
    for row_index in xrange(1, rows):
        #check if the first item of each row is zero
        if matrix[row_index][0] == 0:
            #if it is, set each item in that row to 0
            for col_index in xrange(1, cols):
                matrix[row_index][col_index] = 0

    # go through each column
    for col_index in xrange(1, cols):
        # check if first item in col is zero
        if matrix[0][col_index] == 0:
            # if it is, set each item in col to 0
            for row_index in xrange(1, rows):
                matrix[row_index][col_index] = 0

    # if first row was flagged to be zero set
    # all items in it to 0
    if first_row_zero:
        for col_index in xrange(0,cols):
            matrix[0][col_index] = 0

    # if first col was flagged to be zero set
    # all items in it to 0
    if first_col_zero:
        for row_index in xrange(0,rows):
            matrix[row_index][0] = 0

    return matrix

class Test(unittest.TestCase):
    m1 = [
    m1_after = [

    m2 = [
    m2_after = [

    m3 = [
    m3_after = [

    def test_set_zeros2(self):

if __name__ == '__main__':

1.7 Rotate Matrix – CCI

  • rotate the matrix by layers
  • rotate one item at a time for each row/col
  • store top value
  • move left value to top, bottom value to left, right value to bottom and top value to right
  • go through each item in row/col
  • after layer is done do the layer underneath
# [1.7]. Given an image represented by an NxN matrix,
# where each pixel in the image is 4 bytes, write a method to 
# rotate the image by 90 degrees. Can you do this in place?

# Time complexity: O(N^2)
# Space complexity: O(1)

import unittest

def rotate_matrix(matrix):
    N = len(matrix)
    layers = N/2

    for layer in xrange(layers):
        for pos in xrange(layer, N - layer - 1):
            top = matrix[layer][pos]
            matrix[layer][pos] = matrix[N-pos-1][layer]
            matrix[N-pos-1][layer] = matrix[N-layer-1][N-pos-1]
            matrix[import unittest

def rotate_matrix(matrix):
    #input is in list of lists 

    N = len(matrix)
    layers = N/2
    # rotate by layers
    # if number of layers is odd, don't need to rotate last one
    for layer in xrange(layers):

        # don't do the last pos because the first move
        # puts the initial first value of the row in the last place
        # pos traverses between rows for top and bottom 
        # and cols for left and right
        for pos in xrange(layer, N - layer - 1):
            #store the top value
            top = matrix[layer][pos]
            #override top value with left
            matrix[layer][pos] = matrix[N-pos-1][layer]
            #override left with bottom
            matrix[N-pos-1][layer] = matrix[N-layer-1][N-pos-1]
            #override bottom with right
            matrix[N-layer-1][N-pos-1] = matrix[pos][N-layer-1]
            #override right with stored top
            matrix[pos][N-layer-1] = top

    return matrix

class Test(unittest.TestCase):
    m1 = [[1,2],[3,4]]
    m1_rotated = [[3,1],[4,2]]

    m2 = [[1,2,3],[4,5,6],[7,8,9]]
    m2_rotated = [[7,4,1],[8,5,2],[9,6,3]]

    m3 = [[1,2,3,4],[5,6,7,8],[9,10,11,12],[13,14,15,16]]
    m3_rotated = [[13,9,5,1],[14,10,6,2],[15,11,7,3],[16,12,8,4]]

    def test_rotate_matrix(self):
        self.assertEqual(rotate_matrix(Test.m1), Test.m1_rotated)
        self.assertEqual(rotate_matrix(Test.m2), Test.m2_rotated)
        self.assertEqual(rotate_matrix(Test.m3), Test.m3_rotated)

if __name__ == '__main__':


REST or Representational State Transfer refers to the architectural design style of the world wide web.

The name “representational state transfer” is intended to evoke an image of how a well-designed Web application behaves: a network of web pages (a virtual state-machine), where the user progresses through the application by selecting links (state transitions), resulting in the next page (representing the next state of the application) being transferred to the user and rendered for their use. -Representational state transfer (Wikipedia)

In order to be considered REST, it must follow some constraints.

Client Server – The network must be made up of clients that interact with servers which have resources. This involves one-to-one communication.

Stateless – The client and server do not need to keep track of the other’s state. Requests are not tracked.

Uniform Interface – There must be a common language between the client and server. Servers can change the underlying implementation without breaking clients. This encourages independent evolution. Resources are identified by URI and HTTP. Resources are manipulated through representation. Clients sends representations of what it wants changed, but ultimately the server makes the decision. Messages are self-descriptive e.g. a response can specify content-type as text/html. The server sends data to the client and lets it know what it can do next.

Others – Clients can cache responses and save trips. There can be multiple layers. Clients can receive executable code i.e. JavaScript.

Benefits of a RESTful architecture include flexibility and scalability.