This course is on the design and implementation of database management systems. Topics include data models (relational, document, key/value), storage models (n-ary, decomposition), query languages (SQL, stored procedures), storage architectures (heaps, log-structured), indexing (order preserving trees, hash tables), transaction processing (ACID, concurrency control), recovery (logging, checkpoints), query processing (joins, sorting, aggregation, optimization), and parallel architectures (multi-core, distributed). Case studies on open-source and commercial database systems are used to illustrate these techniques and trade-offs. The course is appropriate for students that are prepared to flex their strong systems programming skills.

This course satisfies the Software Systems Elective requirements for CMU's Computer Science Bachelors Curriculum.

Educational Objectives

This is an upper-level course on the internals of database management systems. This course has a heavy emphasis on programming projects. There are also readings assigned for each class, homeworks, and two exams. Upon successful completion of this course, the student should be able to:

Wait List

Preferential consideration is given to Computer Science Department students. Students will then be enrolled in the course from wait list based on their position. The instructor will add students will in a rolling basis until the course reaches capacity.

Grading Scheme

The final grade for the course will be based approximately on the following weights:


Students will complete multiple homework assignments during the course. These homeworks are designed to reinforce the lectures and reading materials. The homework due dates are the ones that are posted on this website.

Each homework will be graded out of a total of 100 points and are counted equally when computing the homework portion of the final grade.

Programming Projects

Students will complete programming projects during the course. Each assignment is cumulative. That is, you need to successfully complete each assignment in order to complete the next one. We will not release solutions or grading tests for the programming projects.

Each project will be graded out of a total of 100 points and are counted equally when computing the project portion of the final grade.

We will not teach students how to write/debug C++17 programs during the semester. It is a prerequisite for this course. All students are required to complete a starter project by Jan 28, 2024 or they will be asked to drop the course.


There will be two exams during the course. These exams will cover the mandatory readings and topics discussed in class. The first will be an "in-class" midterm exam. The second will be a final exam at during the University's final examination period at the end of the semester.

Late Policy

Each person has an automatic extension of four calendar days for programming projects only. For instance, you can hand in one project four days late, or each of four projects one day late.

In extreme circumstances (e.g., medical emergencies), we will grant no-penalty extensions. Please provide written documentation (e.g., doctor's note).

Collaboration Policy

We expect that your work on homeworks, projects, and exams will be your own. You may not copy any part of a solution that was written by another student, or develop your project or homework solutions together with another student, or copy solutions from any unauthorized source such as the Internet. You may not look at another student's solution without permission from the course staff, even if you have completed your own, nor may you knowingly give your solution to another student or leave your solution where another student can see it.

Here are some examples of behavior that are inappropriate:

If your work contains any statement or code that was not written by you, you must clearly identify the derived work and cite the source. If you are paraphrasing an idea you read elsewhere, you must acknowledge the source. Using existing material without proper citation is plagiarism, a form of cheating. If there is any question about whether the material is permitted, you must get permission in advance.

It is not considered cheating to clarify vague points in the assignments, lectures, lecture notes, or to give help or receive help in using the computer systems, compilers, or other facilities. You may discuss high-level concepts (including high-level discussions of algorithms) with other students, but you may not take notes from those conversations or develop your own solutions in sight of others’ diagrams or notes.

Any violation of this policy is cheating. The minimum penalty for cheating (including plagiarism) will be a zero grade for the whole assignment; a typical penalty will be -100% on the assignment. Dishonesty while discussing an academic integrity issue (i.e. lying to course staff) usually results in an 'R' in the course. All violations of this collaboration policy will be referred to the appropriate University disciplinary board, with possible additional disciplinary action. For more information, see the University Policy on Academic Integrity.

If you believe you have violated this collaboration policy, you may retroactively retract your homework, project, or exam solution. If you retract your solution before we otherwise are aware of your conduct, you will receive a zero grade on the retracted work, but we will not consider your conduct to be an academic integrity violation.

There is no statute of limitations for violations of the collaboration policy; penalties may be assessed (and referred to the university disciplinary board) after you have completed the course, and some requirements of the collaboration policy (such as restrictions on you posting your solutions) extend beyond your completion of the course.

If you have any question about how this policy applies in a particular situation, ask the instructors or TAs for clarification.