CSEP 545 Transaction Processing for E-Commerce

Course Information ¾ Spring (April – June) 2003


Instructor:                 Philip A. Bernstein, philbe@microsoft.com, (425)706-2838



Meeting Time:                Thursday 6:30 – 9:20 PM, April 3 – June 5.

Final exam during the week of June 9


Locations:                (live) Microsoft Building 113 room 1159, phone (425)707-3090

                                (video) Sieg Hall 322


If you’re attending at Microsoft building 113: The building will be locked. If you’re not a Microsoft employee, please wait for a student who is a Microsoft employee to let you in. If you arrive late, call the classroom ((425)707-3090) - from the wall phone outside the main door of building 113, just dial 73090.


Textbook:              “Principles of Transaction Processing for the System Professional,”
by Philip A. Bernstein and Eric Newcomer, Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, 1997


Teaching Assistant: Yana Kadiyska (ykadysk@cs.washington.edu)     


Web Site:                http://www.cs.washington.edu/education/courses/csep545/03sp


Mailing Lists:                http://mailman.cs.washington.edu/mailman/listinfo/csep545 

Please subscribe immediately to this mailing list.  


There are also two mailing lists to support the class project:



If you pick one of these projects, you should subscribe to the appropriate mailing list.

Lecture Outline

Below is the list of course topics. The exact order of topics may vary slightly from this sequence. Also, the mapping of topics to course meetings is hard to predict, since topics are of different lengths and some class time will be consumed by discussions of assignments and projects.


1.        Introduction (textbook, Chapter 1)

2.        Database Concurrency Control, Part 1 (textbook,  revised Chapter 6 (handout) Sections 1-3)

3.        Database Recovery  (textbook, Chapter 8)

4.        Transaction Processing Monitors (textbook, Chapter 2)

5.        Transaction Processing Communications (textbook, Chapter 3 Sections 3.1 – 3.3)

6.        Two-Phase Commit (textbook, Chapter 9)

7.        TP System Recovery (textbook, Chapter 7)

8.        Replication (textbook, Chapter 10)

9.        Database Concurrency Control, Part 2 (textbook,  revised Chapter 6 Sections 4 - 11)

10.     Queuing (textbook, Chapter 4)

11.     Advanced Transaction Models and Workflow


There are no specific prerequisites for the course, besides having a good general understanding of software systems. It’s also helpful to have some knowledge of SQL (to be able to write simple selection and join queries).

Assignments and Grading

There are three components to your grade:

  1. There will be a mid-term exam in class, probably on April 8.
  2. There will be a final exam during the week of June 9.
  3. You will do a substantial two-person project.

Your grade will be a weighted sum of the mid-term (15%), project (40%), and final exam (35%), plus an extra 10% weight added to your best grade of the three.


There will be weekly assignments for much of the course, covering material that’s easiest to learn by solving structured problems. The solution to each assignment will be discussed in lecture one week after the assignment is handed out. The assignments will not be graded. However, we recommend that you make a serious attempt at solving them, since it’s an effective way to learn the material. Some of the exam questions will be minor variations of some of the assignment questions.


Transaction processing is a systems engineering problem, with lots of interacting parts. The goal of the project is to deepen your understanding of how the parts fit together. There are two projects to choose from:


1.        Implement a distributed transaction system in Java or C#.   The server will allow customers to make/cancel/query travel reservations, will allow airlines to add/cancel/modify flight information, and will allow hotels and car rental agencies to post room and car availability.  We will provide clients, the interface the clients expect, a lock manager, the basic application, and a general design framework for the (ultimately distributed) server.  Students will build mechanisms for persistence, recovery, and two-phase commit.  The transaction system will concurrently support multiple clients and multiple servers.


2.        Design and implement a travel reservation TP application using the Microsoft product set: SQL Server and .NET.  Keep it simple enough to get an end-to-end system working well enough to run a demo. In particular, keep the user interface very simple.  The main goal is the intelligent use of as many TP system features as possible.


For both projects, make sure you have a solid working solution of basic features, and save a snapshot of that code, before adding more advanced features. Only a short write-up is required to summarize what you have done and to provide a blueprint of the code, as long as the code is readable. A final demonstration is required.


Due dates:

·         April 10 – Email message telling which project you selected and who you will be working with.

·         April 24 – Milestone One. You should have at least a trivial skeleton running. Hand that in, plus a one or two page summary of your design.

·         May 15 – Milestone Two. You should have at least half of the final project features running. Hand that in, with enough of a write-up that we can understand what’s in your code and what you have accomplished.

·         June 5 – Final Project is due. We would like to view as many of the demos as possible this week.


Milestone reports are largely for your benefit, to ensure you’re pacing the work and to check that you’re on the right track. Milestones will be reviewed but not graded.  If you do not hand in a milestone, and we later find that you’re making some serious design errors, it will be your problem for not having given us the chance the flag the error early enough for you to fix it.