[Note: this webpage last modified Wednesday, 15-Aug-2012 14:32:24 EDT]

Table of Contents

General Information
Purpose and Focus of Course
Grading, Assignments, and Expectations
Blackboard and Tegrity
Academic Integrity
Special Needs

General Information

Lecture: 3:30am-4:45pm Tuesdays and Thursdays in A005 Root Hall. course.
Final exam: Tuesday, December 11 at 3-5pm.
Office hours: I am generally in my office and available most MWF's from about 8:30am-4pm. My official office hours are Wednesdays 9:30-11:30am. My office is A-156 Root Hall.
Instructor: Jeff Kinne
Website: (or browse for Jeff Kinne on, or search for Jeff Kinne on google, bing, yahoo, etc. and find a link to the course website from my personal webpage)

Prerequisite: CS 202. If you do not meet the prereq but think/hope you'll be ready to take the course, come and talk to me.

Required text: Database System Concepts, any edition, by Silbersschatz, Korth, and Sudarshan. The latest edition is the 6th, but feel free to get whichever you find cheapest. I'll be going off of the 6th edition, but there should only be minor differences between different editions.

Supplemental MySQL reference: There are various MySQL programming guides. The one I usually use to look information up is at Feel free to search online, or use other references on MySQL programming.

Course Announcements

Announcements regarding the course will be made both during class and via email to your email address. You should regularly check this email account or have it forwarded to an account that you check regularly. You can set the account to forward by logging into your email from Internet Explorer (the "light" version of the webmail client that opens up from Firefox or Chrome does not give the option to forward email).

Purpose and Focus of Course

This course is your databases course. As a CS course, we are not just interested in how to build and use databases, but also how databases work under the hood - and most importantly, how to make them fast.

The plan right now is to break the course into roughly three parts: basic database design and theory, managing databases with MySQL (including constructing efficient queries, and the underlying data structures and algorithms that are used to make databases. These three parts cannot really be separated from each other, and they will be interleaved throughout the course.

For more details on what topics we may cover, see the table of contents for the textbook. If you have some favorite topics you hope we cover, let me know. We will not cover all topics in the book. We will cover the fundamental topics, and there may be some wiggle room to focus more on those topics that interest us most.

Grading, Assignments, and Expectations

The students of this course have the following responsibilities: read assigned readings, attend lecture, complete homework assignments, take exams, and complete a project. The final grade consists of:

The class attendance grade serves the purpose of giving you credit for coming to class. You benefit from coming to class by seeing me present the new material, getting to ask questions, interacting with your classmates, keeping up on what is going on in the course, etc.

The exams serve as benchmarks of your ability to relatively quickly solve problems related to the material. This helps me assign a grade, and also gives you motivation to pay attention and keep up with the assignments.

The homework assignments are designed to solidify your knowledge by having you write programs and solve problems.

The final project will be discussed further after the first few weeks of the semester. Students will choose a larger programming project that will be completed by the end of the semester and presented to the class.

Expectations. My expectation is that an average student will spend about 5 hours OUTSIDE of class each week (that is in addition to class time) WORKING PRODUCTIVELY/EFFICIENTLY (not just starring at the computer) to complete their coursework for this class. Some students may spend less time than this, and some students will spend more.

Classroom conduct. You may not use cell phones, iPods/music players, etc. during class. You should be civil and respectful to both the instructor and your classmates, and you should arrive to class a few minutes before the scheduled lecture so you are ready for lecture to begin on time. You may use your laptop during class if you are using it to follow along with the programming examples that are being discussed. You may not check email, facebook, work on other courses, etc. during class.

Important Note. If you wait until the last minute to begin your homework assignments, I will not be available to answer questions if you have problems. Programming assignments are notorious in the sense that oftentimes most of the time completing the assignment occurs after you thought you had the problem solved. So you MUST start your homework early. I suggest attempting the assignment the day it is given, or the day after, so that if you have a problem you can ask early. If you continue to have problems in trying to complete the assignment, you will have time to ask again. Working on programming assignments is much less stressful if you start early!

Grade cutoffs

I make no promise ahead of time what the exact cutoff will be in terms of the number of points to achieve an A+, A, A-, etc. These will depend on how the course goes. I will use the guidelines below in assigning letter grades. After the first few weeks, I will include a "letter grade if the semester ended today" in your grades. You can keep track of how you are doing in the course with the grades on the blackboard site for this course.

The following is roughly what I would expect by the end of the semester to earn a particular grade.

Grading Programs

For some programming assignments, I will assign a grade based on correctness and style. The exact breakdown may vary slightly from one assignment to another. In general, 60-70% of the points for an assignment will be given based on whether it is correct. The remaining 30-40% will be given based on good programming style: (i) choosing variable and function names that are descriptive/appropriate, (ii) writing code that is easy to understand and efficient, (iii) including documentation at the top of each file about what is in that file and how to use it, (iv) including documentation with each function describing what the function does (including what should be input to the function and what the function outputs), (v) documentation throughout each function describing the flow of the program. For portions of the code that are given to you, you do not need to add documentation to those parts of the code; if I give you partially completed code, you are responsible only for documenting the code that you add.

Blackboard and Tegrity

The course has a blackboard site. Click here to go to blackboard. You should see CS 457 or CS 557 listed under your courses for the current term. The blackboard site is used for giving you your grades. The blackboard site can also be used to post questions/comments about the class. You have the option of posting your questions in blackboard or just sending email. If you do not want your question visible to the rest of the class, then send email. It could be good to post the question on blackboard because (1) other students may be having the same problem and could benefit from seeing the answer to your question, (2) other students can respond to your question/comment - and may do so sooner than I do.

During the first week of classes, I will be out of town. I will record the lectures so you can view them in Blackboard. The program/plugin that allows you to view the lectures is called Tegrity. You can view these lectures by going to blackboard for this course and clicking on "Tegrity Classes" on the left hand side. You will be asked to install a browser plugin to allow you to view the lectures.

Other than the course grades, discussion board, and initial week of lectures on blackboard, all course content, schedule, etc. is kept on the instructor's webpage (which you are currently viewing).

Academic Integrity

Please follow these guidelines to avoid problems with academic misconduct in this course:

If cheating is observed, you will at the least receive a 0 for the assignment (and may receive an F for the course), and I will file a Notification of Academic Integrity Violation Report with Student Judicial Programs, as required by the university's policy on Academic Integrity. A student who is caught cheating twice (whether in a single course or different courses) is likely to be brought before the All-University Court hearing panel, which can impose sanctions up to and including suspension/expulsion. See the Student Code of Conduct and Academic Integrity Resources for more information.

Please ask the instructor if you have doubts about what is considered cheating in this course.

Special Needs

If you have special needs for the classroom environment, homeworks, or quizzes, please inform the instructor during the first week of classes. If you have any such needs, you should go to the Student Academic Services Center to coordinate this. See Student Academic Services Center - Disabled Student Services for more information.