CIS 5650 GPU Programming and Architecture
Fall 2023

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Click Here for CIS 5650 Fall 2024

Course Announcements

2023-08-13: Registration for CIS 5650 or if you are facing issues

Students who may not have been able to register for the class due to Path at Penn issues can attend the first day of class on Wednesday, August 30 2023 at 5:15pm in Towne 337. Please reach out to the instructors after class ends.

2023-08-01: Student Survey

All students who are interested in taking the course (registered, waitlisted, or otherwise) must complete the Student Survey as soon as possible. Failure to submit the survey before first day of class can jeopardize your registration for CIS 5650.

Course Description

A timeline section from the following topics:

  • GPU Computing: GPU architecture, massively parallel programming, parallel algorithms, performance.
  • Rendering: Graphics pipeline (rasterization), path tracing, deferred shading, forward+ rendering, VR.
  • APIs: CUDA, WebGL, RTX, Vulkan.

This is a project-intensive course with significant coding, writing, and presenting. It is more work than any other course, but it is worth it.

For a course more focused on GPU architecture without graphics, see Joe Devietti’s CIS 601 (no longer offered at Penn).


  • Passion for computer graphics.
  • At least one of:
    • CIS 4600/5600: Introduction to Computer Graphics.
    • CIS 4610/5610: Advance Rendering
    • Preferably received an A. Knowledge of rasterization and ray tracing.
  • Strong C or C++.
  • Also useful:
    • CIS 3800: Operating Systems
    • CIS 5010: Computer Architecture

Student Survey (Required)

If you have registered as a student for the course, or plan to, please complete this required survey: CIS 5650 Fall 2023 Student Survey.

Github, Schedule, Class Forum, and LinkedIn

  • Github: fork your repos from here
  • Ed Discussions: Class forum
    • Note: Ed Discussions requires being registered for the class for default access. If you need access for auditing, please reach out to the instructors.
  • LinkedIn Group: for networking with current and previous course students


Changes to office hour schedule will be made on the CIS 5650 Calendar and notified through Class Forum.

Wayne Wu

Office Hours:

  • In-Person: 30 mins after class
  • Online: Tuesday & Thursday 10 - 11AM (Google Meet Link)
  • By appointment (email me)

Wayne Wu

Shehzan Mohammed

Office Hours:

  • By appointment (email me)

Shehzan Mohammed

Teaching Assistants

Chang Liu

Office Hours:

  • In-Person: Saturday 2 - 5PM in SIG Lab

Chang Liu

Shutong Wu

Office Hours:

  • In-Person: Monday & Wednesday 1 - 3PM in SIG Lab

Shutong Wu

Shixuan Fang

Office Hours:

  • In-Person: Tuesday & Thursday 1 - 3PM in SIG Lab

Shixuan Fang

Course Advisor

Patrick Cozzi

Patrick Cozzi

No books are required, but course material comes from many sources including:

Other useful tools and material:


  • Projects: 50%
  • Final Project: 45%
  • Participation: 5%

Academic Integrity

An academic integrity violation will result in the student receiving an F in this course.

See Academic Integrity at the University of Pennsylvania: A Guide for Students.

Code submissions will be cross-checked for plaigarism against previous years’ submissions as well as submissions from your colleagues using automated software. Please do not copy code.

If you would like to use code not written by you for this class, please run it by the TAs using Class Forum for permission to use it. Examples of code you will need to ask permission to use:

  • Public Github Repositories and other open source projects.
  • Projects from other classes that will give you a non-trivial advantage for the project.

If you think you need to ask permission, you should ask. We will most likely approve all reasonable requests.

Penn Engineering COVID-19 Impact and Announcements

Please visit the COVID-19 for information on Penn Engineering’s announcements and information about COVID-19 impact and procedures.

COVID Protocols for CIS 5650

  • Classrooms will be operating under normal, pre-COVID capacity during the Fall 2023 term.
  • CIS 5650 will be in person and lecture recordings will be made available within 24 hours after the lecture.
  • We will follow University policy for mask use.
  • If a student (or staff) tests positive at any point during the semester, and there is probable risk of spread, a portion of the students, if not the entire class may be moved online-only temporarily. You will be notified through Class Forum.


Joe Kider, Gary Katz, and Suresh Venkatasubramanian taught this course before me.

All former TAs have helped shape this course:

Shubham SharmaRachel Gu 
Janine LiuLiam DuganWayne Wu
Hannah BollarYoussef VictorZiad Ben Hadj-Alouane
Ottavio HartmanYash VardhanAustin Eng
Kaixiang MiaoShuai Shao (Shrek)Gary Li
Kai NinomiyaHarmony LiLiam Boone
Karl LiVarun SampathJon McCaffrey

Previous students have provided significant course feedback including:

Many passionate folks in our field have also provided course input: