CS561 - Advanced Database Systems

Course Syllabus - Spring 2007

Professor: Elke A. Rundensteiner
Office: WPI, Fuller Labs #238 (the office at the end of the hall).
Homepage: http://davis.wpi.edu/~dsrg/MEMBERS/rundenst
Email: rundenst at-the-typical-wpi address

Course homepage: http://www.cs.wpi.edu/~cs561/s07
Class meetings: Thursdays, 6:00pm - 8:50pm, WPI, SL 105
Office hours: Mo, 12:00-1:00 noon, and Th, after class 9pm until 10pm.

How To Contact Me :

Mailing List for Course

Note that an email mailing list for this course will be set up. You need to subscribe yourself to this list asap in order to receive messages related to this course. In fact, you are encouraged to send questions to the entire class via our mailing list for items of general interest. Since if you are having a problem, it is likely that others have or will encounter the same problem. Who knows, someone may have already found a solution to your problem and will be willing to share it.

Goals and Intended Audience

This course will provide you with an overview of a selected set of the advanced topics in database systems. The goal is to expose you to the current active areas in databases of interest to both academia and industry by reading book chapters as well as papers from the recent literature and discussing them in class. You will also get an in-depth look into some set of technologies by conducting a course project in an area of your choosing (as long as related to databases in some form and agreed to by the instructor), and by preparing tutorials on several database topics and then presenting them to the students in the course (again selection of topics with guidance and approval by the instructor).

This course is for you if you are interested in learning about the state-of-the-art in database systems; as basically it serves as sequel to our beginning CS542 course (which focusses exclusively on relational database technologies). This CS561 course could also in some cases serve as a starting point for you to begin to conduct research in the field of databases. Your course project, if selected carefully, could in some cases be extended to lead to a publication, though typically after further effort beyond the 14 week time period of the class.

Recommended Background

You should have a basic familiarity with relational databases, the equivalent of a beginning course in databases. Instead if you have used a database system before in practice, you may also have sufficient basic understanding required for the course. If you are in doubt, you get permission from the instructor. Some programming experience in a high-level programming language (such as JAVA or C++ or C) will be necessary for the course in order to pursue a course project.

Text Book

There will not be an assigned textbook in the course, since there is no good book available covering this diversity of current DBMS topics. Instead, we will be reading selected chapters from several different books and papers from the literature. I will hand copies of these papers out directly in class, link them onto our course webpage, or make them available for copying in the department.

Optional Readings

If you need to brush up on your basic relational database knowledge, then below are some books (some have newer editions) you may want to look over:

Information about Database System at WPI (Oracle).

This link Getting-started-with-Oracle contains information to get you started with Oracle as prepared by several folks at Stanford University, including setting up connections to oracle, Web interfaces to Oracle, Java interfacing to Oracle with JDBC, etc. This would be one potential platform to try out your course projects out.


There will be a core collection of readings in selected topics in databases around which our discussions will be centered. Final selection of topics will in part be based on the participants of the course and their particular interests, as determined during the first class session. Topics cover may include a subset of the following:

Grading Policy

Final grades are computed based on 100 points: If you are between two grades, active participation in the course discussions will be a weighed extra positively This would likely help you to reach the higher of the two grades.

Late Policy

You are strongly encouraged to turn in any assignments on-time. Unless otherwise noted for a particular assignment, the following late policy holds. Late assignments will be penalized by subtracting 25% of the total achievable points of that deliverable, if turned in within the first 24 hours after the due date. Between 24 to 48 hours late turnin will result in a reduction of 50% of the total achievable points. Certain deliverables may not have ANY LATE day, as announced. Most importantly, late point reductions cannot be made up by later improvements.

A Note on Plagerism and Cheating

Unless explicitly noted, all work is to be done on an individual basis and by yourself. You are encouraged to discuss with others about ideas and material in the course, in preparing for exams, in understanding homework problems, project statements, etc. However, all homework solutions, exams are to be written individually, and the solutions should be your own, unless otherwise specified. Projects encourage teamwork, that is, in that case you are expected to work closely with your partner/(s) to solve problems and prepare a common agreed-upon solution.

Note in particular that copying of any material, may it be a single sentence or a figure, from any location (including the internet) without proper acknowledgement of the source constitutes plagerism. If in doubt, please ask for clarification. Any violation of the WPI's guidelines for academic integrity will result in no credit for the course and referral to the Student Affairs Office for disciplinary action. More information on definitions, responsibilities and procedures regarding the WPI academic honesty policy can be found here.