CS 4400 Introduction to Database Systems


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Course Description

We introduce the fundamental concepts necessary for the design and use of modern database systems in today’s large scale enterprise applications. We examine the concepts in the order that we typically encounter them in the actual database design process. We start with the problem of conceptually representing data that is to be stored in a database. From there, we see how the data in a conceptual data model can be converted to a database specific model (e.g., the relational data model). We also discuss various forms for relations that possess good properties. We see how to use the relational database language SQL to define the relations and to write SQL statements to insert, delete, retrieve and update the data. We also examine some of the fundamental storage structures and indexing schemes that are used in relational database systems. We end the course with a discussion of some advanced topics in the database management area.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course students will be able to:



Note: the final exam is only for those who choose to do the light option of the project in Phase III. (Those who do the heavy option in Phase III CANNOT take the Final).

Grade Cutoffs: A: 90, B: 80, C: 70, D: 60


One semester-long project completed in teams: You will design and implement a database application using the MySQL/PHP relational database system available via CoC (College of Computing). The Project must be done in groups of 3 or 4 students. Groups of more than 4 or less than 3 will not be allowed. You are allowed to form groups across the two sections (A & B) of the class. We will follow a typical database design methodology for this project. Notes describing the methodology are available via the class web page on T-Square. The project will consist of 3 phases (deliverables) as well as a final demonstration to the TA. Phase I and Phase II of the project are each worth 10% credit. Phase III of the project is worth 10% credit without the GUI – implemented as queries only, and 20% credit with GUI, so that it runs as a full-fledged application. All members of a group get the same grade for each phase of the project. If a member of a group does not carry his/her weight (in terms of an equitable distribution of work), then the group may kick out that member at the end of phase I or Phase II, only. The course professors and head TA should be notified of this immediately when this takes place.

Project Peer Evaluation: For each phase of the project, each group member will submit a peer evaluation of the other group members. This evaluation will be taken into account when determining the grade for each group member. If all group members do an equal amount of work then each will receive the same grade. On the other hand, if one group member does not do an equal share of the work, then that member’s grade will be adjusted (lowered) as a percentage of the group’s overall grade. More details about the peer evaluation will be made available with the project.

Academic Integrity and Collaboration

We expect academic honor and integrity from students. Please study and follow the academic honor code of Georgia Tech: http://www.honor.gatech.edu/content/2/the-honor-code . You may collaborate on the project (see below). You may not collaborate on in-class exercises or exams.

Rules For Project Collaboration

Students within each project group are strongly encouraged to split each phase of the project into smaller tasks and collaborate closely with each other to accomplish that phase. No collaboration of any kind whatsoever is allowed between students in different project groups. Any violation of this policy will be reported to the Dean of Students without exception.

Due Dates, Late Work, and Missed Work

Grade contest

To contest any grade you must submit an official regrade form within one week of the assignment’s original return date. The original return date is the date the exam was first made available for students to pick up or the grade was posted online in the case of homework assignments and programming exercises.

Class Participation

Lecture and workshop/recitation attendance is required and assumed.

Course Outline


At least one of:

Course Materials


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For more details see http://www.policylibrary.gatech.edu/policy-nondiscrimination-and-affirmative-action