The class meets twice a week. Most classes will consists of lecturing, but we will also have discussions. Please attend all lectures, since the material is not based on any particular text.


There are no formal prerequisites for the course. However, we expect you to know how to program. You do not have to have already taken a database class. However, undergraduates are recommended to do so.

Optional references

Homework assignments

There are three homework assignments. These assignments are practical assignments designed to help you learn how to use database systems and how such systems are built internally.


There will be a programming project, which will be designed as a mini research project. At the end of the project, you are expected to either make a presentation in class or present a poster (depending on the total class size) and to hand-in a short, conference-style paper.


Assignments: 35%
Project: 45%
Paper commentaries and class participation: 20%
There will be no exams.

As this is a graduate class, the class will be A-centered, but students are not guaranteed a grade of A.

Paper reading and commentaries

We will discuss one paper during each lecture. To help you prepare, you will write a one-paragraph commentary on each paper, and submit it at least 24 hours before the class meets. The commentary should reflect your understanding and analysis of the issues raised by the paper, and should also help direct (both your and others') preparation for in-class discussion. We will sometimes post guiding questions on the lecture page to help you focus your writing. We will grade your response as credit / no credit.

One suggestion for the format for the commentary is to critique the paper, listing the following three points: its biggest contribution (and, briefly, why that result was not already obvious), its biggest mistake (in motivation, methodology, algorithm, data analysis, conclusions, or some other area), and the biggest question that it raises (or the most interesting and important follow-on work that it suggests). Another acceptable format is to summarize the paper, describing its thesis, approach, and conclusions, and stating why it is significant. The commentary should also list questions that you have about the paper, such as about technical points or connections to related work.

Late policy

Since this is a graduate class, we are more lenient about late days. For homework assignments, we will accept valid excuses (conferences, paper deadlines, etc.) and will work with you to figure out the earliest day that you can hand in your work. Note, however, that the schedule for the entire course is very tight. Once you fall behind, it will be very hard to catch-up. Also, we will not grade anything handed in after the deadline for the project reports and paper commentaries.

Collaboration policy

You are encouraged to discuss the content of this course with anyone you like. Assignments and paper reviews are done individually. The project is to be done in a group of up to three students. If two teams pick the same project, we expect each team to produce original work different from that of other teams. Feel free to look-up any information on the web that you may find useful in completing the assignments, projects, or paper reviews.


postgres, Amazon Web Services, Java

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

See here.