Inf3703 Assignment 2-20159

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Principles of databases

Introduction

A database is a storage of data. Databases consist of tables, which each have descriptive fields (such as 'name', 'address', 'phone') and rows of data, where the actual information is placed. Database design involves first analysing how you need to store and access your data (which tables need to be linked to which, etc) before you go ahead and create the actual database.

INF3703 is one of those modules with a theory side as well as an application side, here in the form of case studies. Entity-Relationship Diagrams are used to model the database design.

The prerequisites for this module are either COS2611 or ICT2622.

The Unisa syllabus

  1. Database systems and data models (Chapters 1 and 2 need not be studied for the exam)
  2. The relational database model (Chapter 3)
  3. Entity relationship (ER) modelling (Chapter 5)
  4. Advanced data modelling (Chapter 6)
  5. Normalisation of database tables (Chapter 7)
  6. Transaction management and concurrency control (Chapter 12)
  7. Distributed database management systems (Chapter 14)
  8. Database connectivity and Web development (Chapter 16)

The INF3703 textbook

Prescribed textbook

Recommended reading

The INF3703 exam

Past exam papers

The exam in Oct/Nov 2009

The exam in Oct/Nov 2007

The exam was similar to past exams and followed the format of Chen ERD (20 marks) (The Airport Co.), a dependency diagram, with no denormalization (10 marks) and the rest was the theory evenly spread through the chapters (10 marks a section). The theory was very similar to the questions asked in the assignments. One of the questions that was asked was 4 phases of data mining.

Tip: Don't spend to much time on drawing the ERD diagram since you will not have enough time to complete the exam.

The exam in Oct/Nov 2004

They were giving away 40% in this exam: A 20-mark case study that came straight from the previous year's exam (to which we had the solutions), plus 20 marks in very easy multiple-choice. A lot of people thought it was a nasty paper, but it was easy to pass.

The exam in Oct/Nov 2003

  • Question 1: A case study about an insurance company
  • Question 2: Mapping an ER diagram into a relational model
  • Question 3: A dependency diagram that we had to convert to 3NF
  • Question 4: Concurrency control (explain what it is and give the 3 most common concurrency problems)
  • Question 5: Data fragmentation (define and illustrate it using a given relation)
  • Question 6: Client-server architecture
  • Question 7: Convert an ERD into the OO equivalent
  • Question 8: Mini case-study
  • Question 9: XML (discuss DTD and correct some XML)

The exam in Oct/Nov 2002

This year the case study was about a Dinner Club. We had to know the advantages and disadvantages of the OODMS. A nice paper overall.

The exam in Oct/Nov 2001

There were 9 questions (100 marks), and the exam started off with a case study where we had to draw an ERD. Other diagrams we had to draw were a dependency diagram, and 3NF relations. On the theory side, we had to compare the OO data model with the relational model (table format) and also the differences between MOLAP and ROLAP.

How to pass INF3703

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Pros of INF3703

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Categories: Unisa Modules | Completed Modules | Information Systems

I probably should have been keeping track of the module as it was happening, but such is life. On Tuesday, I wrote my first exam in 5 years, thereby completing the first of 3 modules I have to do so that I can register for Honours soon.

This module covered database theory – transaction management, database administration, business intelligence, cloud computing, database design etc. Interesting enough, if I hadn’t already covered these topics in a second year Computer Science module, and also a third year Information Science module at Stellenbosch.

Also, the textbook was a renamed, reshuffled version of my original textbook from 7 years ago. So on the plus side, I did not have to buy a textbook. There were only two assignments in this module, so my year mark was very high. Even though it only counts for 30% (and the final exam for 70%), I know it will help boost my mark because I did not enjoy that exam. At all.

As I’ve mentioned before, I love studying. I always have. UNISA has quite a different approach to exams, so I sprouted a few grey hairs while studying for this (seriously, I have some grey hairs now after last week). I have never stressed so much about an exam before. Except for a second year Geology module that I put off until my last semester at Stellenbosch, because I really did not want to take Geology, but since I had already bypassed Botany I was forced to do it (those compulsory subjects were the worst).

The paper was not what I was expecting, but it’s over now. Something crazy happened though, in the few days leading up to the exam – I used the UNISA forums. As I have mentioned again and again, I do not like the “peer interaction” that all these MOOCs seem to thrive on. I think it was the lack of sleep that drove me to do it.

At least now I reeeeally know this subject. Either way, one down, two to go.

Cindy Jayakumarexam, INF3703, Unisa

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