CSE 444: Introduction to Database Systems


Martin Dickey, Spring 1999

University of Washington
Web site: http://www.cs.washington.edu/education/courses/444/99sp/

last updated: 3/27/99
Course Goals
Databases are at the heart of modern commercial application development. Their use extends beyond this to many 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 and use, as well as the background needed to appreciate current developments in the field. To further the latter goal, students go beyond the covers of the textbook in the projects they develop as part of the course
We will focus on the relational model of data, with SQL as the language. We will use Microsoft SQL Server (and to a lesser extent 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, SQL Server, 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 23 chapters. There will be tests and quizzes, written and computer-based homework, and a group design and implementation project. A week-by-week lecture schedule may be found on the Web.
MWF 11:30-12:20, Thomson 135
Staff Information & Office Hours (subject to change -- check Web site)
Office hours
Martin Dickey, Instructor Sieg 417 616-4368 dickey@cs.washington.edu See my full schedule for other possibilities
Jake Cockrell, TA        
Ryan Saratoga, TA        
Text (required)
Database Management Systems by Raghu Ramakrishnan (WCB/McGraw-Hill, 1998).
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 and a final exam.
The final exam will begin at 2:30 on Wednesday, June 9. 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.
Service Project
Every student will join one of several "service projects". These group projects will include the design and implementation of a database application.  The project should be one that will be permanently useful for some non-commercial use after the course ends. Students will have defined roles within the project. Grading will be based upon their own, their peers', the client's, 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. The service projects may require a hands-on demo with all project members participating.   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
Homework:             25%
In-class activities and quizzes: 10%
Service project:         30%
Midterm:                  15%
Final:                          20%
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. All students are required to subscribe to the class mailing list.
Computer Systems
 For the required hands-on homework, students need access to SQL Server (a Microsoft product that is part of the Backoffice Suite) and Access, the Microsoft PC 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 444 will be vigorous in enforcing them. (For the group project, we will have other standards of authorship and participation.)