Project 1 FAQ

This is a living document and may be expanded or modified as new information comes in.

Auditing and Projects

Q: I am auditing the class. Can I still turn in the projects and homeworks and have the TAs evaluate them?

A: Unfortunately due to time constraints for the TAs, we can't evaluate the projects and homeworks of auditors; auditors should not turn them in at all. You can participate in review sessions if you like, and feel free to come to office hours and ask us questions about the project or homework but keep in mind that registered students should receive first priority.

Oracle Accounts

Q: I tried to log on to Oracle, but was denied access. What did I do wrong?

A:We have not yet set up the Oracle accounts for students, but are planning to do so shortly. We need all registered students to register online in order to give you accounts. All auditors should send an email directly to if they wish to open an Oracle account. Accounts should be ready by Monday, April 16, and we will announce when they are ready for access.

Project Ideas

Q: I'm having trouble coming up with ideas for the project. Can you give me any advice?

A:First, you might try looking at last year's winning projects to get an idea of the scope of the project. Also, feel free to visit any of the course staff during office hours if you are having trouble getting started.

Something to consider: recall that ultimately you will be creating a web interface for your database. Hypertext can lend itself especially well to viewing data as a graph and exploring it by browsing through links to related information. Take a look at the Internet Movie Database for a good example -- each movie lists links to actors, director, writers, and so forth, which, in turn, have links to other movies they were involved in. Think about other data that might be similarly structured.

You could also choose to build a database that allows for deeper analysis of data than simple listing of relational links. One example might be the Census Bureau's International Database, which allows you to rank, make comparisons, and view different timespans and types of data for different countries demographic statistics.

You could also consider a database that lends itself to electronic commerce, though a great deal of infrastructure that would be necessary for such an application (such as security, credit card transactions, and web sessions) won't be covered (that's not to say that you couldn't try and figure it out yourself, though!). An example of this might be (Amazon is also a great example for a couple of other cool analytical tricks, like determining what books a user might want to purchase based on the purchasing habits of similar customers, and so on).

Or you could consider something fun and interactive (as opposed to just browsing pre-constructed datasets), like "Am I Hot or Not?".

Changing Your Mind

Q: Is it okay to change our PDA design after submitting the first part of the project? A: Definitely. Many, perhaps even most, students will make some changes to their PDA along the way, either because they change their mind about something, or discover that the original design wasn't quite capturing the real world as they had planned. We will not be tracking projects for consistency. Note that we will only grade each project part for each student once, even if it changes later. (Come to office hours if you want to discuss changes to previous project parts.) Also bear in mind that the farther you get in the project the harder it will be to make changes, although for the first two parts it's not a very big deal.
This document was written for Jennifer Widom's CS145 class in Spring, 2001, by Nathan Folkert.