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Current postgraduate taught students

COMP60362: Advanced Database Management Systems (2007-2008)

This is an archived syllabus from 2007-2008

Advanced Database Management Systems
Level: 6
Credit rating: 15
Pre-requisites: Comparable knowledge to that provided by: COMP20312 Fundamentals of Databases
Co-requisites: No Co-requisites
Duration: 24 lectures (spread over one day per week for five weeks)
Lectures: 10 days (12 hours each week for five weeks, plus 20 hours)
Lecturers: Alvaro A. A. Fernandes
Course lecturer: Alvaro A. A. Fernandes

Additional staff: view all staff
Sem 1 w7-11 Lecture 2.19 Fri 09:00 - 17:00 -
Assessment Breakdown
Exam: 50%
Coursework: 50%
Lab: 0%


This course unit offers an introduction to the latest, cutting-edge research outcomes in the area of database management systems (DBMSs). It starts with a brief overview of the internal architecture of traditional DBMSs, and proceeds to cover a range of advanced systems that extend that architecture to different execution environments than the classical, centralized one. The viewpoint adopted throughout is systems-oriented and research-oriented. Focus falls on the impacts on classical query processing functionality (i.e., impacts on other DBMS-provided services such as storage, concurrency and transaction management are largely ignored).

The delivery has aspects of a seminar module, i.e., the lectures, as well as the coursework, will centre around, and be driven by, research papers that will be assigned for advance reading and classroom discussion. Conventional lab hours, with lab sheets for practicing skills, are comparatively less important. Although available implementations of the systems discussed may be used (and pointers will be given to others), detailed use or exploration of tools is not an integral part of the unit.


The aim of this course unit is to survey the research landscape of advanced DBMS systems with a view to understanding how DBMS research is responding to challenges arising from new software architectures, new kinds of data resource and new computational fabrics.

Learning Outcomes

A student completing this course unit should:

have acquired knowledge of cutting-edge, research-led DBMS research (A1)
be able to compare and contrast the variety of approaches used in DBMS research to address the challenges raised by new software architectures, new kinds of data resource and new computational fabrics (A2, A3)
be able to identify, understand and articulate the shortcomings of current DBMS research and to suggest, in broad terms, possible strategies and approaches that might be used to overcome them (B1)
be able to collaborate with others with a view to achieving learning outcome [3] above (D1)
be able to communicate the results both individually (in the form of written reports) and as part of a team (in the form of group seminars) (D2)

Assessment of learning outcomes

Learning outcomes (1)-(3) are assessed by examination and coursework; learning outcomes (4)-(5) are assessed by coursework..

Contribution to programme learning

A1, A2, A3, B1, D1, D2


Week 1: DBMS Internals [6 lectures]

DBMS component and service architecture
The query processing component stack

Week 2: Parallel/Distributed DBMSs [4 lectures]

Query processing in dedicated hardware
Wide-area distributed query processing
Adaptive query processing.

Week 3: Data Integration, and Peer-to-Peer DBMSs [6 lectures]

View-based approaches to data integration
Query rewriting
Schema-based, query-based peer-to-peer approaches to data management.

Week 4: DBMSs on Data Streams [4 lectures]

The stream data model
Semantic- and system-level implications
Continuous query processing over data streams.

Week 5: Sensor Networks as DBMSs [4 lectures]

Sensor networks as a distributed computing fabric
Implications of unreliable, scarce fabric-level components for query processing and optimization.

Additional Information

Additional information, including details of assessed coursework can be found at the course unit webpage (

Special resources and limits on participation

No special resources are required, but students should note the need for them to be proficient in the tools required to produce technical reports and seminars to a professional standard, as this skill contributes to the coursework mark.

The limit on the number of students taking the course is strictly enforced.
(50 students)

Reading List

Most of the reading material comes in the form of research papers. These vary for (and are only decided upon at the start of) each academic year. Specific information, per academic year, can be found at the course unit webpage (

The course unit focusses on DBMSs as software systems. It therefore assumes a good understanding of undergraduate-level material on database languages, database design and database application programming. The knowledge assumed by this course unit can be found in good undergraduate textbooks such as:


Core Text
Title: Database Management Systems
Author: Raghu Ramakrishnan, Johannes Gehrke
ISBN: 9780321546227
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Education - Europe
Edition: 3rd
Year: 2007

Supplementary Text
Title: Database systems: the complete book (2nd edition)
Author: Garcia-Molina, Hector and Jeffrey D. Ullman and Jennifer Widom
ISBN: 9780131354289
Publisher: Pearson
Edition: 2nd
Year: 2009

Supplementary Text
Title: Database System Concepts
Author: Silberschatz, Abraham, Korth, Henry F. and Sudarshan
ISBN: 007124476X
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Education - Europe
Edition: 5th
Year: 2006