Syllabus and general information for MCS-243: Relational Databases
Essentially all contemporary information systems used in commerce use
relational database technology. This course provides an introduction
to this technology, both as a collection of hands-on skills and as a
conceptual subject with mathematical foundations.
I do not plan to have scheduled office hours this January. Instead, I
will be in my office most of the day (outside our class times) most
days. You can make an appointment if you want to be sure I'll be
there, or you are welcome to just drop by.
World Wide Web
All course materials will be available through my World Wide Web page.
The URL for this course is http://www.gustavus.edu/~max/courses/J2000/MCS-243/.
After this syllabus I will give hardcopy handouts only to those
students who want them.
Our text will be the first edition of
Principles, Programming, Performance by Patrick O'Neil, published
by Morgan Kaufmann.
Class and lab times
Other than the first and last days of the term, I intend to allocate a
portion of our class time each day to lab sessions. On Thursday the
13th and Thursday and Friday the 20th and 21st the lab session will be
in the 9:00-10:00 time block, so as to leave the 10:30-12:00 block
free for the midterm (on the 13th) and the guests from industry (on
the 20th and 21st). The remaining 15 days I expect we will normally
have class 9:00-10:00 and lab from 10:30-12:00. However, if at some
point it seems we need more class time (and less lab time), I may
reverse the two blocks.
Attendance is mandatory for all lab sessions and presentations by
guests from industry. However, if you have already turned in all lab
assignments which have been handed out, you are exempted from the lab
attendance requirement. Other than this, I am willing to excuse up to
two absences per student. Use yours wisely. You are responsible for
all course material, whether or not you are present when it was
covered or distributed.
Expectations for out-of-class work
Because we are covering a whole course worth of material in one month,
it is essential that you work on the course during the afternoon. You
need not only to keep up with the reading and assignments, but also to
come talk with me about the course whenever the class time doesn't
suffice to clear up all your questions. Given the fast pace, you
shouldn't be surprised if that happens. If so, it is your
responsibility to come see me.
There will be an approximately midterm exam and a final exam, as shown
on the syllabus below.
Students are encouraged to discuss the course, including issues raised
by the assignments. However, the solutions to assignments
should be individual original work unless otherwise specified. If an
assignment makes you realize you don't understand the material, ask a
fellow student a question designed to improve your understanding,
not one designed to get the assignment done. To do otherwise is to
cheat yourself out of understanding, as well as to be intolerably
Any substantive contribution to your solution by another person or
taken from a publication should be properly acknowledged in writing.
Failure to do so is plagiarism and will necessitate disciplinary
The same standards regarding plagiarism apply to team projects as to
the work of individuals, except that the author is now the entire team
rather than an individual. Anything taken from a source outside the
team should be be properly cited.
One additional issue that arises from the team authorship of
project reports is that all team members must stand behind all reports
bearing their names. All team members have quality assurance
responsibility for the entire project. If there is irreconcilable
disagreement within the team it is necessary to indicate as much in
the reports; this can be in the form of a ``minority opinion'' or
``dissenting opinion'' section where appropriate.
All assignments are due at the beginning of class on
the day indicated. Late assignments will be penalized by one ``grade
notch'' (such as A to A- or A- to B+) for each weekday late or
fraction thereof. However, no late assignments will be accepted after
graded assignments are handed back.
If you are too sick to complete an assignment on time, you
will not be penalized. Simply write ``late due to illness'' at the
top of the assignment, sign your name and hand it in. Other circumstances
will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Please point out any arithmetic or clerical error I make in grading,
and I will gladly fix it. You may also request reconsideration if I
have been especially unjust.
I will provide you with a letter grade on each assignment and on each
test, so that you may keep track of your performance. As a guideline,
the components will contribute in the following proportion to the
However, I reserve the right to subjectively adjust your final grade.
Please see me if you have any question how you stand. Class
participation is not graded; however, it allows you to find and repair
the gaps in your understanding before doing the assignment or exam, and
thus can dramatically improve your grade.
- Midterm exam: 25%
- Final exam: 25%
- Project: 15%
- Homework: 21% (3 @ 7% each)
- Labs: 14% (2 @ 7% each)
All assignments should be readily readable, and should
not presuppose that I already know what you are trying to say. Use
full English sentences where appropriate (namely almost everywhere)
and clear diagrams, programs, etc. Remember that your goal is to
communicate clearly, and that the appearance of these technical items
plays a role in this communication process. Be sure your assignments
are always stapled together and that your name is always on them.
Please contact me immediately if you have a learning or physical
disability requiring accommodation.
A single number in the reading column means to read that entire
chapter. This is my best guess as to the rate at which we will cover
material. However, don't be shocked if I have to pass out one or more
|1/6||2.8-2.10||More relational algebra
|1/17||5.3-5.5||More on design
|1/18||5.6-5.7||Dependency and decomposition
|1/20||Patsy Rossow of CSFA (industrial guest)
|1/21||Ross Nornes and Sam Glackler of James Tower (industrial guests)
|1/25||6.2-6.4||Views, security, and metadata
|1/27||9.4-9.6||Locking and recovery
Course web site: http://www.gustavus.edu/~max/courses/J2000/MCS-243/
Instructor: Max Hailperin <email@example.com>