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Current postgraduate taught students

COMP60732: Advanced Database Management Systems (2011-2012)

This is an archived syllabus from 2011-2012

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 (each lasting one hour, spread over one day per week for five weeks)
Lectures: Time devoted to coursework outside lectures amounts to 12 hours each week for five weeks, plus 20 hours for the final coursework.
Examples classes: There are no examples classes in this course unit.
Labs: There are no labs in this course unit.
Lecturers: Alvaro A. A. Fernandes
Course lecturer: Alvaro A. A. Fernandes

Additional staff: view all staff
Sem 2 P3 Lecture 2.19 Fri 09:00 - 17:00 -
Assessment Breakdown
Exam: 50%
Coursework: 50%
Lab: 0%

Themes to which this unit belongs
  • Data Management


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.

There no labs with lab sheets for practicing skills on programming or design. Where available, pointers are given to implementations of the systems discussed, detailed use or exploration of tools is not an integral part of the unit as most of the technology studied only exists in the form of unstable research prototypes.

This course unit is about database management systems as systems. Therefore, it concerns itself much more with how DBMSs systems are built, and not as much with how they are used to support applications. It should appeal more to students who enjoy understanding how systems can be made to deliver advanced, challenging functionality. It is possibly less appealing to students who are more interested in how advanced technologies can be deployed, say, in businesses in response to business needs, although the course unit does attempt to explain the motivations behind the technological advances it covers.


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.

Programme outcomeUnit learning outcomesAssessment
A1Have acquired knowledge of cutting-edge, research-led DBMS research.
  • Individual coursework
  • Examination
A2 A3Be 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.
  • Individual coursework
  • Examination
B1Be 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.
  • Individual coursework
  • Examination


Week 1

Architecture, Components: The Classical Case and Variations [1]
The Relational Case: Data Models, Databases, Languages [4]
Query Processing (1): Overview, Equivalence-Based Rewriting [1]

Week 2

Query Processing (2): Algorithms, Evaluation Strategies, Cost-Based Optimization [3]
Parallel DBMSs [2]

Week 3

Distributed DBMSs and Dataspaces [5]

Week 4

Massively-Parallel/Massively-Distributed Data Processing [3]
NoSQL and Cloud Databases [2]

Week 5

Stream Data Management [2]
Sensor Network Data Management [2]

Additional Information

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


There are four weekly tests, from Week 2 onwards, covering the material taught in the previous week, including assigned readings.
There is a final report, in which students are assigned readings and are asked to exercise their critical judgements based on the knowledge acquired through the course unit.

Special Resources

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

Reading List

Most of the reading material comes in the form of research papers. These vary for (and are only decided upon closer to the teaching period in which the course unit is taught. Specific information, per academic year, can be found at the COMP60732 website.

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 (see the COMP60732 website for suggestions).