EECS 3/496:

Systems Programming in Rust

Syllabus – Spring 2018

Tech M128, TuTh, 12:30–1:50 PM

Course staff & office hours

Instructor Jesse Tov jesse@eecs Ford 2-215 Tue. & Thu. by appointment
TA Eric Chang ericchang2017@u Tech C135 Wed. 2–4 PM

General information


Modern, safe programming languages such as Java and Python have become increasingly accepted for application-level programming, but for systems programming, which often requires precise, low-level control of system resources, programmers still turn to C and C++. The new programming language Rust, under development by Mozilla, promises the best of both worlds: the type safety of Java with the speed and expressiveness of C++. Through discussions, lectures, and programming exercises, students will learn how to program in Rust and to use its resource ownership model effectively. Rust is especially well suited for our particular focus, systems programming, so students will use Rust as a vehicle for exploring both classic systems programming problems and more contemporary concerns.


This course assumes proficiency in C++ and some programming maturity.


We will have one in-class examination on Thursday, May 10.

There will be no final exam.



There is no required textbook. However, you are likely to find some online references useful:

Please post your questions on our Piazza discussion board.


We will use Rust 1.25, currently in stable. On OS X or Linux, it’s recommended that you install Rust using rustup, with this single command:

    curl -sSf | sh

Rust is also available on the lab machines (tlab01.eecs, batman.eecs, etc.). Add /home/jesse/pub/rust/cargo/bin to your PATH.

We also will use C++ 2014, the current version of the C++ programming language; earlier versions of C++ may not work for all the code we write. The instructor will be using CLion, a cross-platform IDE. CLion ordinarily costs money, but student licenses are available for free. Any other conforming C++14 toolchain should work.

There is a good Rust plugin for CLion, which your instructor uses. Microsoft VS Code also allegedly has good Rust support. Vim and Emacs work as well.

Class schedule

This table specifies the course schedule; topics are tentative.

5 Introduction [UB examples; rainfall spec]
10 A first Rust program [code] 12 Rainfall [code]
17 Rust basics [code] Homework 1 19 Ownership and borrowing [slides]
24 Ownership and borrowing [code] Homework 2 26 Iterators [code]
1 Iterators, continued Homework 3 3 Concurrency in Rust [code]
8 Homework 4 Exam review 10 Exam
15 Project proposal More concurrency 17 Future-based concurrency [code]
22 Progress check 1 24
29 Progress check 2 31 Final presentations
5 Final presentations Project code 7 Final presentations

Course policies

Collaboration and academic integrity

You may not collaborate with anyone on the exam. You may not use any electronic tools, including phones, tablets, netbooks, laptops, desktop computers, etc. If in doubt, ask the instructor.

Most homework assignments will be completed with a partner or team. You should work with your official partner or team, as specified, on homework assignments. You may discuss your work with anyone, but all work you submit must yours, or when appropriate, your team’s. However, the best place to discuss anything related to the course is on our Piazza discussion board. Of course, you may always ask the instructor for help; when working with a partner, it’s best to ask for help together.

Students who cheat will be reported to the appropriate dean.

If you are unclear on any of these policies, please ask the instructor.


In general, you should submit your homework according to the instructions on the web page for the individual assignments.

Late work

Acceptance of late work is at the discretion of the instructor. Generally, I would rather have you do the work and learn something rather than skip it.


Your grade will be based on your performance on

The mapping of raw point totals to letter grades is at the discretion of the instructor.