Computer Science (COMP) 418

Distributed Database Systems and Database Tuning (Revision 3)

COMP 418 Course Web site

Revision 3 is closed for registrations, replaced by current version

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

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, the second course in database systems following COMP 378. The course focuses on some advanced topics that are important aspects in database design, implementation, optimization, and distributed application. As indicated by the name, the course primarily covers distributed database systems, database tuning, and the relevant techniques such as query optimization, transaction processing, and physical database design. It also introduces some new technologies related to modern database application such as database security and data mining.

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, concurrency control and cash recovery.
  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 data mining.


Computer Science 418 consists of thirteen units listed below.

  • 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
  • Unit 13: Data Mining

Notes: The units or sections marked as Optional in the course syllabus and Study Guide are not necessary content for the final examination. However, students who are interested in or familiar with the content are encouraged to explore and use the topics or applications as they complete the assignments and write the final examination.


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 and a grade of at least 50 percent on the project (Assignment 4). The weighting of the composite grade is as follows:

Assign. 1 Assign. 2 Assign. 3 Assign. 4 Final Exam Total
10% 15% 15% 20% 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


We use both a textbook and other reading materials (both required and supplemental) in this course. The required textbook provides systematic and comprehensive knowledge, while the other reading materials will cover many state-of-the-art and in-depth topics that are not covered by the textbook.

Raghu Ramakrishnan and Johannes Gerhrke. 2003. Database Management Systems, 3rd edition, McGraw-Hill. ISBN: 978-0-07-246563-1.

Supplementary Reading

Hector Garcia-Molina, Jeffrey D. Ullman, and Jennifer Widom. 2009. Database Systems: The Complete Book. Prentice Hall, 2nd edition. ISBN: 978-0-13-187325-4

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

Special Course Features

Computer Science 418 is delivered online. Students will be required to complete assignments and activities on the School of Computing Information Systems web server and use online resources.

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 “D” (50 per cent) on the examination and 50 per cent 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 3, January 6, 2011.

View previous syllabus