Fall 2019 — 3.0 Units
2019-08-26 through 2019-12-13
Class time: Mon & Wed, 09:40 — 11:10
Location: LSB 120 ?!?
Lab Mgr.: Masao Kitimura —
Doolan 104, 310.338.8100

CMSI 486 Syllabus/Course Description Page

CMSI 386: Programming Languages
Instructor: B.J. Johnson
Office Hours [Doolan 220]: Mon 16:00 — 18:30
Tue 09:30 — 12:30
Thu 09:30 — 12:30
Other hours by appointment

[Dedicated to the memory of Professor Phil Dorin, teacher, mentor and friend.]

Course Description from the Latest University Bulletin

Theory and design of database systems, with emphasis on relational and object-oriented models. Topics include database system structure, semantic data modeling, relational databases, object oriented extensions, formal query languages, integrity and security, physical design of databases, indexing and hashing, and query processing and optimization. Transaction processing, concurrency, and crash recovery are introduced.


Students must have taken CMSI 386, Programming Languages, prior to taking this course. The rationale is that you will need a firm understanding of programming concepts in several languages to be able to grasp the concepts presented. In addition, you will need programming proficiency in a high-level language, such as Python, Java, JavaScript, C++, or C#, and previous courses in data structures and programming languages. A previous course in something related to systems programming or computer systems organization is also strongly recommended.

Note that the course description above is not very specific.... there is more detail below!

Programming, like anything else, takes practice and perseverance. You must be willing to make mistakes, to learn how to fix them, and to learn not to be afraid of them. Humans [and now even computers!] learn by making mistakes, and this is the place to do so without fear.

Course Goals, Objectives, and Learning Outcomes

The goal of this course is to learn the basics of database systems, including their underlying concepts, design, construction, and operation. The topics covered include [but are not limited to] the following:

When you finish the course, you will be able to:

Expected Workload

In accordance with the LMU Credit Hour Policy, this 3-unit course will require 9 hours of work per week, which includes the time spent in class and lab sessions. This work will consist of homework, a project, watching and commenting on some videos about databases and related topics, and reading/study of textbook material.

What You'll Need for Success

In a nutshell, here's what you'll need to do to be successful in this course.
*YOU* promise to:

…and *I* promise to:

Textbooks and Resources

There are three required textbooks for this course:


THE BOOKS ARE NOT AVAILABLE IN THE LMU BOOKSTORE. They are available at many other fine retail outlets, both online and brick-and-mortar. We will be using them for homework assignments, general reading and information, as well as tutorials for using several different databases both in and out of the classroom. The titles of the books provide you with their contents and focus.

Although we won't be covering the books in their entirety for this class, we will be using them as primary resources.

There is also a large number of other resources which can be used to "mine the gold" for related information about database systems. The topic is a very broad field, which has been around for a very long time, and touches almost every aspect of modern life. Any google search on database systems will turn up at least ten million links. Many of these will be shared during class, and you will be required to find some information about specific topics on your own. You may even be required to use the LMU library, [GASP!!] so be prepared!

General Course Topics Outline

A list of topics that are covered, and the approximate order and time frame in which they will be discussed, is available on the class notes page for this site.

Reading Assignments

Chapter readings from the text books and the dates by which these readings should be completed are listed below. Note that you should have read the chapter material prior to the date listed, and you should be ready to discuss the text, ask questions about the concepts, and begin working with some of the implementations of the concepts in class. It is also a good idea to at least read (or preferably try) the exercises contained in and at the end of each chapter.

Here is the reading list:

  1. Week 1:
    1. Elmasri Ch 1 [24 pp.] — Introduction
    2. Elmasri Ch 2 [24 pp.] — Concepts and Models
    3. Wiki page on ANSI-SPARC model
  2. Week 2:
    1. Elmasri Ch 3 [21 pp.] — Relational Model
    2. Wiki page on C.R.U.D.
  3. Week 3:
    1. Elmasri Ch 6 [41 pp.] — Relational Algebra
    2. Wiki page on Relational Algebra
    3. Stanford Presentation on Relational Algebra
  4. Week 4:
    1. Elmasri Ch 4 [25 pp.] — Structured Query Language [SQL]
    2. Elmasri Ch 7 [33 pp.] — Entity Relationship Diagram [ERD]
  5. Week 5:
    1. Elmasri Ch 9 [14 pp.] — Relational Database Design
    2. Elmasri Ch 10 [43 pp.] — Practical Database Design
  6. Week 6:
    1. Elmasri Ch 15 [35 pp.] — Normalization of Databases
    2. Kręglewski: Databases for Beginners Slide Deck, slides 28 - 39
  7. Week 7:
    1. Elmasri Ch 21 [29 pp.] — Transactions
    2. Elmasri Ch 22 [25 pp.] — Concurrency
  8. Week 8:
    1. Elmasri Ch 24 [37 pp.] — Database Security
    2. Van Bruggen Ch 1 [12 pp.] — Graphs and Graph Theory
    3. Van Bruggen Ch 2 [21 pp.] — Graph Databases Overview
  9. Week 9:
    1. Van Bruggen Ch 3 [28 pp.] — Getting Started with Neo4j
    2. Van Bruggen Ch 4 [17 pp.] — Modeling Data for Neo4j
  10. Week 10:
    1. Van Bruggen Appendix B [8 pp.] — Getting Started with Cypher
    2. Chodorow Ch 2 [21 pp.] — Getting Started [MongoDB]
  11. Week 11:
    1. Chodorow Ch 3 [23 pp.] — Getting Started with Cypher
    2. Chodorow Ch 4 [24 pp.] — Graph Databases Overview

Homework Assignments

All written homework assignments are due at the beginning of the class on the date they are due. Deviation from this process requires prior consent of the instructor. I left my homework at home is not a valid reason for late work. This is college, and you can be responsible for remembering what you need to remember. Every effort is made to ensure assignments, required deliverables, and due dates are prominently posted on these pages; it is your responsibility to make sure you know what is due and when it is due.

You may certainly turn assignments in late; I will happily accept them, but they will be reduced in grade by one letter for each day they are late. Day means day, not workday or class day; an A+ homework due on Thursday which is not turned in until the following Tuesday will unfortunately only earn a failing grade, unless some prior arrangements are made with the instructor due to illness or some major schedule conflict. However, if you want to turn something in late, I'll still provide feedback even for assignments which have no chance of any credit; I keep this policy to allow you to get the learning benefit of the assignment even if you don't get a grade for it. My philosophy is that it is important for the students to know the material, even if an assignment doesn't get the best marks.

All assignments must be printed on a printer. All assignments must use proper American English and/or Programming Language spelling and grammar. Failure to do so will cost you a letter grade, so get a spell-checker and a grammar checker, or find a friend who is proficient to proofread your work before it is submitted.

Other than these simple rules, there are no requirements for formatting, fonts, colors, diagrams, or anything else with respect to your homework assignments, other than good code craftsperson-ship.

There will be three homework assignments during the semester, due on the dates shown in the list below. Each assignment will contain eight to ten written problems, and some reading and other information/activities such as web sites to browse, articles to read (and possibly write about), or videos to watch. Each of these assignments is detailed on a separate web page; they are available by using the links in the list. Solutions will be provided after the assignments are handed in.

  1. Homework #1 — Due date Wednesday of week 04
  2. Homework #2 — Due date Wednesday of week 09
  3. Homework #3 — Due date Wednesday of week 12

Exams, Quizzes, and Projects

There will be a mid-term during the semester, scheduled for Wednesday of week six. Note that the test is interspersed with the homework assignments, such that there will not be any homework assignment due on a test date.

There will be a final exam, which will be scheduled per the university's official exam schedule. At this writing, the final is scheduled 08:00 on Wednesday of finals week. It would be a good idea to double-check this date and time as the semester end approaches. The schedule is available here. The final is a cumulative final, which covers everything for the entire semester.

There will be a semester database project, which will implement a database of your choosing. You will pick the application, and will decide which type of database and which engine you will use to implement it. You MUST implement, at a minimum, the database portion of the project. This means you must have all tables, collections, documents, or what-have-you, in the database. You may, if you desire, make a front-end so you have a full-stack implementation, or if you prefer you can implement a command line interface [for example, using SQL queries] to access the data. You will be documenting the database in full, per the requirements on the project page. That page also includes several suggestions for projects which you may use. You will be required to demonstrate certain basic functionality to insert, modify, and retrieve data from your implementation. This demonstration will be a presentation at the end of the semester, which will occur two weeks before final exams, during normal class time.

Missed quizzes or tests: it is the responsibility of the student to provide adequate advance notice to the professor if a scheduled quiz or test is going to be missed. If you have a conflict in schedule which will cause a missed exam, please notify the professor at least two days in advance, if possible, to avoid a failing grade for that exam. Prior arrangements must be made in order for a make-up exam to be taken, since this situation requires the professor to create a second copy of the exam/quiz/test.

Use of Technology

You will need access to a computer of some variety. Duh.

If you don't have a computer available, or if you just don't want to carry it around, there are plenty of computers of all types in the Keck Lab, Doolan 112. However, they may not all have the desired software installed. Caveat Emptor.

Attendance and Participation

Although attendance is not mandatory, it is in your own best interest to attend every class. Much of the material will be discussed and elaborated upon in class, so counting on the books for all required information will not provide you with complete information. In addition, there will be in-class exercises in small groups which you will miss out on if you are not there.

Obviously, if you skip too many classes, you will likely fail; this is a simple and self-fulfilling prophecy.

The class participation rubric appears with the grading stuff in the tables below.

Extra Credit

There will be no extra credit given in this course.


Grades for the course are assigned according to the weighting factors shown in the tables below.

Final letter grades will be assigned based on the following scale:

PercentLetterRating and Achievement
91 - 100% A / A- Professional quality work; outstanding
81 - 90% B+ / B / B- Entry-level quality work; above average, shows extra effort and interest
71 - 80% C+ / C / C- Satisfactory work; expected with reasonable effort
61 - 70% D Substandard work; minimal effort shown
60 or lessF Thank you for playing; see you next semester

Evaluation ItemWeight
Homework (total, all 3)15%
Mid-term Exam 15%
Final Exam 25%
Class Participation 5%
Database Project
  [5% Preliminary Doc]
  [5% Detailed Doc]
  [10% Presentation]
  [20% Database Implementation]

Class Participation CriteriaValue
Absent *without* prior notification/agreement of professor0
Absent *with* prior consent/agreement of instructor3
Demonstrates excellent preparation with respect to readings and other materials;
Offers pertinent analysis, synthesis, and evaluation; puts together pieces of the discussion to develop new approaches that take the class further.

Starting Fall 2016: Minimum Grade Requirement for LMU Core Curriculum Courses

Effective Fall 2016: To satisfy a Core requirement (other than a flag requirement), a course must be completed with a grade of C- or better. To satisfy a flag requirement, a course must be completed with a grade of D or better. Baccalaureate Degree Requirements, 2016-17 University Bulletin.
Should a student receive a D in a Core Curriculum course, the student will earn the course units, but the Core Curriculum requirement (except for flags) will not be met.
Important to Note: This policy does not affect any grade received prior to Fall 2016. Those grades of D earned in Core Curriculum courses prior to Fall 2016 will remain on record as having met the Core Curriculum requirement. This policy only affects grades awarded in Fall 2016 and beyond.

Also of note…

An incomplete will be granted only when the student requesting the incomplete has completed at least 80% of the coursework, and has at least a B average in the course work completed. This is standard LMU policy.

Leave of Absence/Withdrawal:

Please read the revised policy on the top right of page 38 of the University Bulletin. A PDF copy is available here.

All work is evaluated for both technical merit and quality of written and/or oral presentation. Find yourself a good spelling and grammar checker, or a trusted human editor, if you are having any difficulty with the rules of standard English language usage. Another excellent resource is the Academic Resource Center, located on the south side of Daum Hall. The center takes appointments, and also allows drop-in consultation sessions, and they have a number of good benefits. Call (310) 338-2847 to schedule an appointment. (For those that don't know, Daum Hall is the building where the LMU Security and Parking office used to be. ARC is on the secon floor.)


In this class, documentation which is not of professional quality is no longer acceptable. Spelling, grammar, and internal document consistency all count and will cost you big-time if not correct! I will not hesitate to knock off a full letter grade on an otherwise perfectly correct assignment if there are egregious and/or numerous spelling/grammar errors. In addition, coding style will play a large part in determining the grade on the code for the homework and project. It is the job of each student to properly structure, comment, and indent, to select the proper names for variables, and to not hard-code values. NO MAGIC NUMBERS!


Academic Honesty and Integrity

Academic dishonesty will be treated as an extremely serious matter with severe consequences that can range from receiving no credit for assignments/tests, failing the class, to expulsion. It is never permissible to turn in any work that has not been authored by the student, such as work that has been copied from another student or copied from a source (including the Internet) without properly acknowledging the source. It is your responsibility to make sure that your work meets the standard set forth in the Academic Honesty Policy (see http://academics.lmu.edu/honesty.)

Cheating on assignments, plagiarism, falsification of data, and other similar or related violations of LMU standards of honesty and integrity ARE NOT TOLERATED. Any student or students who commit such offences will receive a failing grade for that assignment, possibly a failing grade for the course, and conceivably further disciplinary action. It is acceptable to use code from textbooks, friends, coworkers, or other sources, as long as the source of the code is cited/acknowledged in all reports and source file headers.

This does not mean that collaboration is discouraged; in fact, the "pair programming" paradigm is encouraged. However, this does mean that exact duplicates of reviews and write-ups turned in by more than one student as individual work, or uncited copying from the Internet or any other source, will not be allowed. Such a situation will be dealt with in the manner outlined above. In short, if you are responsible for your own work, do your own work.

Repeat: failure to follow this simple guideline will result in a failing grade on that assignment, likely failing grade in the course, and quite possibly further disciplinary action.

Special Accommodations

Students with special needs who require reasonable modifications, special assistance, or accommodations in this course should promptly direct their request to the Disability Support Services (DSS) Office. Any student who currently has a documented disability (ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Learning, Physical, or Psychiatric) needing academic accommodations should contact the DSS Office (Daum Hall 2nd floor, 310-338-4216) as early in the semester as possible. All discussions will remain confidential. Please visit http://www.lmu.edu/dss for additional information.

Respect For Self And Others

As an LMU Lion, by the Lion's code, you are pledged to join the discourse of the academy with honesty of voice and integrity of scholarship and to show respect for staff, professors, and other students.

The following LMU documents are available to reference:

For more information on this or any other conduct issues, please refer to the Student Codes and Policies section in the Community Standards. The Lion's Code, Student Conduct Code, Honor Code and Process, and information on many other policies are available from that link. You can find any and all other related data from the Office of Student Conduct & Community Responsibility web page. Also check the main Student Affairs Departments Website.

Expectations for Classroom Behavior

Electronic Devices: Without being totalitarian about it, because I forget sometimes myself, but I would prefer that you turn off your cell phone ringer during class. Cell phone ring tones and text message tones can become disruptive. If you have a laptop, I don't mind if you want to IM with your friends or surf the Internet during class time, but be aware that will not be accepted as a valid excuse if you are called on and don't know what we're talking about — this could be a contributing factor for a low class participation grade for that day, but it's really up to you to decide. Just please keep the volume off so that you don't disturb others.

Emergency Preparedness

To report an emergency or suspicious activity, contact the LMU Department of Public Safety by phone (x222 or 310-338-2893) or at the nearest emergency call box. In the event of an evacuation, follow the evacuation signage throughout the building to the designated safe refuge area where you will receive further instruction from Public Safety or a Building Captain. For more safety information and preparedness tips, visit http://www.lmu.edu/emergency.

Office Hours / Communication / Contact Information

I have office hours during the days when I have classes, Monday through Thursday. The normal hours are listed at the top of this syllabus page. I will make every effort to be available during those hours, and if I cannot for some emergency reason, I'll make sure you all know about it in advance if possible. My office is Doolan 220, on the second floor, and the normal office hours are posted on the small cork bulletin board to the right as you are facing the door. Office hour data is posted there in redundancy to the posted hours on this syllabus page. Brought to you by the Department of Redundancy Department.

Every effort will be made to be availble during these posted hours. If something changes, I will notify you in advance, when possible and as soon as possible, via an e-mail blast.

In addition, if you want specific [undivided] attention, you can set up appointments at my You Can Book Me site. Just visit the page and click on any available slot (which isn't greyed out), then enter your information in the window fields. We will both get a confirmation e-mail, which is my notification that you'll be coming in. Easy, huh!?

I am also always available by e-mail at either of the following addresses:

I check email at both these addresses at least twice a day, usually three times a day. In addition I am frequently on line for AIM chat sessions after 9:00 PM; my screen name is NanoBeej, or for Google chat sessions at the above address..

YOU SHOULD CHECK YOUR LION EMAIL ADDRESS OF RECORD. I will start by sending all email blasts to everyone's lion.lmu.edu email addresses. If you specifically provide me with a preferred alternative email to use I will be happy to oblige. I create a distribution list to which I send all general communications, so it is important for me to have an email address which you will check on a regular basis.

Tentative Nature of the Syllabus

If necessary, this syllabus and its contents are subject to revision; students are responsible for keeping up with any changes or modifications, which will be distributed either in class or using the normal (specified) communications channels previously described (usually via e-mail).