Database I:

Introduction to Database (INLS 523 )


Dr. Javed Mostafa

Tuesday & Thursday, 11:00-12:15PM

208 Manning Hall

School of Information and Library Science

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill



Course Description


Databases are the backbones of modern scholarly, scientific, and commercial information systems. For example, NASA uses databases to manage voluminous quantities of data generated by its many missions, and large pharmaceutical companies use databases for drug-discovery. Use of databases in the humanities and social sciences is also growing. For example, the Library of Congress maintains an important database called Thomas for managing U.S. congressional records, legislations, and historical documents.


Establishment of rigorous standards and design principles has helped to broaden the applications of databases. However, experience has shown that careful attention to demands of users and particular contexts of use is absolutely crucial in achieving design effectiveness.


This course will provide instruction in both fundamental principles and user-centric methodologies for effective database design. The course will be driven by design activities conducted for a semester-long project. It will begin with a description of data flow through organizations based on tasks and operations. Then, abstraction of metadata using data modeling will be covered. Subsequently, requirements-specification will be taught, and students will generate their project descriptions based on in-depth analysis of design problems. This will be followed up with discussions on the relational model and translation of data models to schemata. Next, the focus will shift to hands-on design tasks involving queries, forms, and report generation. After a prototype design is implemented, students will perform small-scale evaluation of the system. Following this, students will learn about life-cycle issues and database maintenance. The final part of the course will concentrate on advanced database systems.


Course Objectives


*  Understand DBMS system architecture and components

*  Learn database design principles

- Requirements specification

- Data modeling

- Schema transformation

- User interaction

- Evaluation

*  Gain experience in current DB design tools

*  Apply the above cumulative knowledge to create a DB prototype and evaluate it





Course Requirements


*  Assignments

- 10%        Assignment 1: Complete a basic requirements specification and data model

- 10%        Assignment 2: Convert data model to schema


*  Project (Group Effort)

- 5%           Part 1 of project: Requirements specification with data model

- 5%           Part 2 of project- Convert data model to schema

- 10%         Part 3 of project:  Prototype & White-box and black-box test suite

- 15%         Part 4 of project: Final System and evaluation report


*  Oracle assignment

- 15%       Assignment 3: SQL, table creation and report generation


*  20% Take-home final exam


*  10%  Class participation: Activities in class, regular attendance, and contributions to class list









Based on current UNC grading scales, the following grades and corresponding numeric ranges are applicable:


Graduate Students


Grad Grade









69 or below


Undergraduate Students


UG Grade












C+, C, C-





59 or below


Required Text-book


Fundamentals of Database Systems (6th Edition)

Ramez Elmasri and Shamkant B. Navathe, Addison-Wesley, 2010.


The previous edition of the book is adequate to fulfill most of the requirements of this course.


Additional Useful Books


Significant number of hands-on activities will involve the use of Microsoft Access 2010.  Below are recommended books (watch this space for additional recommendations).


Microsoft Access 2010 Bible

Michael R. Groh, Wiley, 2010.



Access 2013 Bible

Michael Alexander and Dick Kusleika, Wiley, 2013.




Course Outline & Calendar



Class 1 - August 20


Introduction to the class and distribution of the syllabus. Important dates, exam, and assignments described.

Class project requirements discussed.




Class 2 - August 22


Database systems overview.  Database system evolution: From file systems to object-oriented systems.


Readings: Chapter 1




Class 3 - August 27


Database planning and requirements specification.




Class 4 - August 29

Data flow in operations and data abstraction.


Assignment 1: Given a general scope of system requirements, students must produce a requirements specification document and a data model. 




Class 5 - September 3


Data modeling continues.


Readings: Chapters 7 and 8




Class 6 - September 5


Logical model of databases: Relational systems.


Readings: Chapter 3





Class 7 - September 10


Relational algebra and relational calculus.


Readings: Chapters 6





Class 8 - September 12


Data model to schema conversion.


Readings: Chapter 9





Class 9 - September 17


Database design refinement. Database querying introduced.


Readings: Chapter 4




Class 10 - September 19


Designing tables with appropriate constraints. Formulation and execution of structured query language (SQL) queries.


Readings: Chapters 4 and 5




Assignment 2: Convert the data model created in assignment 1 to a schema. 




Class 11 - September 24


Advanced SQL and SQL Programming.


Readings: Chapter 5





Class 12 - September 26


Usability, life-cycle, and evaluation of DB systems.


Readings: To be assigned.




Class 13 - October 1



Usability, life-cycle, and evaluation of DB systems (Contd.).



Readings: Chapter 10



Project Part1: Conduct requirements specification and data modeling. 




Class 14 - October 3


Interface design principles for DB systems.  Basic screen, form, and interaction design.


Practical database design methodology and UML diagrams.


Readings: To be assigned.






Class 15 - October 8


Physical DB system: Disks, files, and hashing I


Reading: Chapter 17




Class 16 - October 10


Physical DB systems II


Reading: Chapter 17





Fall Break Week - Hands-on Project Review and Intro to MS Access -- Oct 15


Along with the Intstructor teaching assistant will be in Room 208 Manning


Project part 1 returned and next project part distributed


Project Part2: Convert project data model to schema.





Class 17 - October 22


Indexing structure of files



Introduction to Oracle DB environment. 


Readings: Chapter 18 plus to be assigned.





Class 18 - October 24


Oracle DB design continues. Distributed DBs and Client-Server Systems



Readings: Chapter 21 plus to be assigned.






Class 19 - October 29


Advanced topics: Data analysis and mining.  Domain focus: Biomedicine.


Reading: To be assigned.


Assignment 3: Oracle SQL, table creation and report generation. 




Class 20 - October 31


Overview of Data Warehousing and OLAP.


Reading: Chapter 29



Project Part3: Project prototype, white-box, and black-box testing. 





Class 21 - November 5


Guest Speaker: Advanced Database Applications.





Class 22 - November 7


Transaction processing.  Concurrency control.


Reading: Chapters 21 and 22


A preliminary review of the project prototype will be conducted during this day.




Class 23 - November 12


XML: Extensible Markup Language


Reading: Chapter 12






Class 24 - November 14


Non-structured and textual data management


Readings: Chapter 27





Class 25 - November 19


Database security.


Reading: Chapter 24





Class 26 - November 21


Beyond structured data management.  Temporal, Spatial, and Multimedia data.  Exam review.



Readings: Chapter 26


Reminder: Project Part3: Develop white-box and black-box test suite. 


Project Part 4: Final project system and evaluation report.  A brief presentation from each group will be expected (different groups will take turns). Class presentation requirements review.





Class 27 - November 26



Class presentatons and wrap-up.






Class 28 - December 3


Class presentations.



Final Exam, Project Access System and Evaluation Report due.



Contact Information


Instructor Office hours: Tuesday 2P-3P. The instructor will be in Room 300A, Manning Hall.

TA Office hours: Thursday 2-3P. The TA will be in Room 300, Manning Hall.

Please do not hesitate to contact the instructor or the GA to schedule other meeting times.


Ph:          (919) 610-6230

Fax:         (919) 962-8071

Email: (instructor)