CSE 444: Introduction to Database Systems



Martin Dickey, Autumn 1997

University of Washington
Web site: http://www.cs.washington.edu/education/courses/444/97a/

Course Goals
Databases are at the heart of modern commercial application development. Their use extends beyond this to many applications and environments where large amounts of data must be stored for efficient update and retrieval. This course is intended to give students an appreciation for the classical issues and techniques of database design, as well as the background needed to appreciate current developments in the field. To further the latter goal, students will look beyond the covers of the textbook for information on topics of current interest.
We will focus on the relational model of data, with SQL as the language. We will use Microsoft Access 97 to provide hands-on experience, and students will participate in developing a small but real database application. However, it is not a goal of the course to develop expert level knowledge of SQL, Access, or any particular applications development environment.
Course Format
The class meets three times a week for lectures. We won't meet in the computer lab except perhaps very occasionally. We will skip around somewhat in the textbook and eventually cover about 14 of the 24 chapters. There will be tests and quizzes, a short research paper to write, and a group design and implementation project. A week-by-week lecture schedule may be found on the Web.
MWF 12:30-1:20, Lowe 102
Instructor Information & Office Hours (subject to change -- check Web site)
Office hours

Martin Dickey, Lecturer

Sieg 417



M: 4:00-4:50

Tu, Th: 1:30-2:30

See my full schedule for other possibilities

Jake Cockrell, Teaching Assistant

"Chateau" 110



W 1:30 Sieg 326

F 1:30 Sieg 326

Fundamentals of Database Systems (second edition) by Elmasri and Navathe, Benjamin Cummings, 1994. [Note: be sure to specify the second edition when ordering this book. A third edition is to be published soon; no doubt a better book, but available too late to use this quarter.]
Notes, handouts, and other materials
There may from time to time be handouts or course notes required for purchase or duplication. Disks may be needed in connection with hands-on assignments or projects.
Quizzes and Exams
Quizzes will be short, and will focus on current material. They will usually be announced one class period in advance. There will be one midterm (probably the first week of November) and a final exam.
The final will begin at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 17, 1997. Please do not schedule travel or other activities which would conflict with this date and time. It will not be possible to take the final exam on any other day. The final exam will be comprehensive but will emphasize material from the latter half of the course.
Programming and Homework
This is not a programming class! Nevertheless, some programming will be necessary. There will be some mandatory SQL programming for setting up and querying a database. Such queries are usually short compared to typical programs in other languages. There will be some pencil and paper SQL practice (i.e., you don't have to run it on the machine), and some homework that doesn't involve programming at all. On the other hand, there could be programming of all sorts in your group project, depending on its design and your role in that project.
Research Paper
There will be a short research paper, due in early November. Each student will chose a different topic, collect information, write and turn in a draft, and prepare a final paper. Each stage of the writing process will contribute to the grade. There may also be an opportunity to make an in-class presentation based on the paper. Appropriate paper topics are those which have some clear relationship to databases; are not covered in the course; and which the student has some particular background or interest in already. Example might include: current database issues and trends; commercial DBMSs and development tools; related operating systems or architecture topics. Please do not choose a topic without clearing it with the instructor!
Service Project
Every student will join one of several "service projects". These group projects will include the design and implementation of a database application for some group or individual outside the course. Students will have defined roles within the project. Grading will be based upon their own, their peers', and the instructor's evaluations of the project outcome and of their contribution to that outcome.
The form of homework turn-in will vary with the assignment. It might be done with diskettes and printouts, or via e-mail, or on the Web, or by face-to-face grading. Stay tuned.
Late Policy
Assignments are due at the beginning of class on the due date, unless otherwise announced. Barring usual circumstances, late homework will not be accepted.
Tentative Grading Breakdown
Hands-on homework: 15%
Pencil & paper homework 15%
In-class activities and quizzes: 5%
Short research paper: 16% {revised 10/3/97 from 15% to 16%}
Service project: 20%
Midterm: 14% {revised 10/3/97 from 15% to 14%}
Final: 15%
I hope you will attend every lecture. If you miss a lecture, talk to a friend who was present, and be sure to check the Web site for class messages. Lecture outlines will be on the Web, and old handouts can be obtained from the TA, but otherwise, instructors and TAs will not furnish notes or make-up materials to individuals who miss class.  
The World-Wide Web and e-mail will be used extensively to provide you with course information, such as the schedule mentioned above, homework assignments and solutions, class messages and many other things.
Computer Systems
 For the required hands-on homework, students need access to Access, the Microsoft database system that is part of Office 97. This software is available in the NT lab (Sieg 232). For the group projects, the group should decide on a platform; it must be one that all the group members, the TA, and the instructor can conveniently use. 
Computer Use Policy
Some excerpts from the campus policies. Take them seriously: "You must use all UW [computing] resources in strict accordance with local, state, and federal laws. These laws cover such areas as illegal access to computer systems, networks, and files; copyright violations; and harassment issues… Software and information resources provided through the university for use by faculty, staff, and students may be used on computing equipment only as specified in the various software licenses. Unauthorized use of software, images, or files is regarded as a serious matter and any such use is without the consent of the University of Washington…If abuse of computer software, images, or files occurs, those responsible for such abuse will be held legally accountable."
Academic Misconduct
 All work turned in is expected to be your own. Although students are encouraged to study together, each student is expected to produce his or her own solution to the homework problems. Coping or using sections of someone else's program, even if it has been modified by you, is not acceptable. The University has very clear guidelines for academic misconduct and the staff of CSE 413 will be vigorous in enforcing them. (For the group project, we will have other standards of authorship and participation.)