Computer Science (COMP) 418

Distributed Database Systems and Database Tuning (Revision 4)

COMP 418 Course Web site

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online (with eTextbook)

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Science

Prerequisite: COMP 378 or equivalent.

Faculty: Faculty of Science and Technology

Centre: School of Computing and Information Systems

COMP 418 has a Challenge for Credit option.

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**Note: Students who are concerned about not meeting the prerequisites for this course are encouraged to contact the course coordinator before registering


Computer Science 418: Distributed Database Systems and Database Tuning is a senior-level database course. This follow-up course to COMP 378 focuses on advanced topics in database design, implementation, optimization, and distributed application. The course primarily covers database tuning, distributed database systems, and relevant techniques such as query optimization, transaction processing, and physical database design. It also covers some aspects related to database administration such as database security, concurrency control and crash recovery.

Course Outcomes

After completing the course, students should be able to

  1. explain the key concepts and techniques for database tuning and implementation, such as data storage, indexing, query evaluation, query optimization, transaction management, and concurrency control.
  2. analyze and tune database systems for performance enhancement by applying the above concepts and techniques.
  3. analyze and design distributed database systems based on the principles of distributed indexing, distributed query evaluation, data replication, distributed transaction, and distributed concurrency and recovery.
  4. discuss principles and techniques for database secure access and crash recovery.


Computer Science 418 consists of the units listed below.

  • Unit 0: Course Information
  • Unit 1: Data Storage and Indexing
  • Unit 2: Index Structures
  • Unit 3: Query Evaluation
  • Unit 4: External Sorting
  • Unit 5: Evaluation of Relational Operators
  • Unit 6: Query Optimization
  • Unit 7: Transaction Management
  • Unit 8: Concurrency Control
  • Unit 9: Crash Recovery
  • Unit 10: Physical Database Design and Tuning
  • Unit 11: Database Security
  • Unit 12: Distributed Database Systems


To receive credit for COMP 418, you must achieve a course composite grade of at least "D" (50 percent); a grade of at least 50 percent on the invigilated final examination; an average grade of 50 percent on the assignments. The weighting of the composite grade is as follows:

Assign. 1 Assign. 2 Assign. 3 Assign. 4 Final Exam Total
15% 15% 15% 15% 40% 100%

The final examination is open book and invigilated. To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Registration in this course includes an electronic textbook. For more information on electronic textbooks, please refer to our eText Initiative site.

We use both an e-text and other reading materials (both required and supplemental) in this course. The required text provides systematic and comprehensive knowledge; the other reading materials cover many state-of-the-art and in-depth topics the text does not.

Raghu Ramakrishnan and Johannes Gerhrke. 2003. Database Management Systems, 3rd edition, McGraw-Hill. ISBN: 978-0071231510.

A print version of the eText can be purchased from the publisher through a direct-to-student link provided in the course website; you can also acquire the textbook on your own if you wish.

Supplementary Reading

Abraham Silberschatz, Henry Korth, and S. Sudarshan. 2010. Database System Concepts. McGraw-Hill 6th edition. ISBN-13: 978-0073523323

Ramez Elmasri and Shamkrant Navathe. 2010. Fundamentals of Database Systems, 6th edition, Addison Wesley. ISBN-13: 978-0136086208

Challenge for Credit Course Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows students to demonstrate that they have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university level course.

Full information for the Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the COMP 418 challenge, you must achieve a grade of at least ā€œDā€ (50 percent) on the examination and 50 percent on the project.

Project Exam Total
50% 50% 100%

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 4, June 29, 2015.

View previous syllabus

Updated May 10 2016 by Student & Academic Services