CS 4604 Project Assignment 3

Released on April 18, 2016. Email PDF version of your project report to both TAs by 12:00 noon May 2, 2016. Also submit hardcopy of the report at the beginning of the class on May 2 (IMP: to count as an 'on-time' submission, you have to email the PDF at noon and also submit the hardcopy in class, NO exceptions). See Late Policy down the page. In-person Demos: Please sign-up for a slot on May 3, using this link, before 5pm EDT April 29 (otherwise, we'll have to assign you randomly to an available time-slot).

The goal of this step of the project is to interface your database with a programming language and to make it web-accessible. This is the stage where you embed your database into a complete application. The programming language that we will use is PHP, a server-side scripting language which is very similar to Perl. Executable commands are embedded via special tags in the source of the web page. Version 5.3.3 of PHP is installed on cs4604.cs.vt.edu. By this facility, the PostgreSQL database that you have created can be accessed via the web, using a webserver that has been installed for us on cs4604.cs.vt.edu.

At this point, it is helpful to answer the following FAQs:

FAQ: Can we do this step of the project from our own computer/web server but still access the PostgreSQL database server on cs4604.cs.vt.edu?

Answer: No. Unfortunately, you can not do this. So the only options are to use either both your own web and DB servers or only use the provided infrastructure.

FAQ: Can we use our own database server and web server?

Answer: Yes. You are welcome to do the project completely on your own computer. Notice that this step of the project involves having a DBMS (MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, SQL server etc.) and drivers for accessing the database from the programming language you will use to implement your web interface. Depending on how you choose to demo your web interface, your computer may also need to be net-accessible (so that people can access the web pages that are stored in your computer via the world wide web). In addition, you may need to install PHP (if you decide to use PHP for your web interface), and a web server that you can operate on your computer. In short, if your setup allows the facility to create web pages and make them publicly accessible on the Internet, you are in good shape. If you choose this option, you take full responsibility for ensuring that your machine supports all the desired functionalities. Unfortunately, we will NOT be able to accommodate any last minute requests for extensions because something is not working. We provide this option for your convenience, so that you can take advantage of any already existing setup for your project. Do not attempt this unless you are absolutely positively sure of what you are doing. We do not have the resources or the manpower to provide technical support and help in debugging. At the end of the day, we will grade it just like every other project.

FAQ: Can we use ASP/Ruby-on-Rails/AJAX/COMET/substitute-the-latest-buzzword-here/ for the project?

Answer: Certainly! However, you are on your own. We do not have facilities to support these in the lab, nor to provide technical support.

FAQ: Can we kill any connections run by ourselves?

Answer: Yes. See the Using Postgresql page for more details.

Preparatory Steps:

Help with PHP

Here are some good documentation resources for PHP: The best way in which you can access the PostgreSQL database from your PHP program is to use the PostgreSQL module, which supports several PostgreSQL-specific commands.

Style Guide for your Application

What we want to see at the end of the day is a single web page, that provides a nice interface to your database. Feel free to do more fancy and creative things, but do so only after completing this "core" requirement. We have a style guide for what this page should look like. If you look at the template carefully, notice that we are only querying the database. We are not doing any inserts, updates or deletes. That's one direction to look for, if you are aiming to be creative.

What you should turn in

You have to do two things to receive full credit:
  1. Every group has to turn in a project report. Email PDF version of your report to both the TAs by 12:00noon May 2 2016 with the subject header 'CS4604 Project Assignment 3'. Name the PDF as your-group-name.pdf. Please do NOT send any file format other than PDF. Also submit hardcopy in the May 2 class.
  2. Every group has to give an in-person demo in a 10-15 min time-slot on May 3. This means that ALL members of the group should be present at the demo time-slot. If anyone misses the demo, we will grade that person's PA3 out of 33% (ie. whatever grade we assign to the team/3). Please write your group name and choose exactly one time-slot for the demo here: Project 3 Demo Schedule. Sign-up by 5pm April 29 (otherwise we'll randomly assign remaining time-slots to groups).

Late submission Policy

  1. NO late days allowed on this assignment.
  2. Assignment submitted late every 7 hours, will lose 25% of the grade i.e. if you submit between 12:00noon-7pm May 2, you will be graded out of 75 points, between 7pm-2am (May 3) 50 points, 2am-10am May 3 25 points. Anything submitted later than 10am EDT May 3 will not be graded.
  3. How to submit late: Please email the PDF to TAs, and bring a hardcopy to your demo. Your submission will be timestamped according to the time of your email.

Also see below, for more information on what the project report and demo should contain.

What your project will be graded for

Here's the distribution of points:
  1. (10 points) First write and run the following SQL queries on your database. These are just sample queries to give you a sense of how SQL can enable some task for your application e.g. Query 1 below can help find recent publications for any author. For each of the problems listed below, show the following in your hardcopy: While grading your solutions, we will pay attention to the quality of your queries, e.g., whether they are correct, the number of tables they reference, and the running time. Please desist from creating massive new tables to support answering these queries!
    1. (2 points) List the 10 latest publications by author 'Philip S. Yu' (without the quotes).
    2. (3 points) Conferences are important venues in computer science. Journals on the other hand are becoming less and less important. Nevertheless, scientists continue to first publish a paper in a conference and then submit a full version (with the same title) to a journal. Count the number of publications that first appeared in a conference (the type of such a publication is "inproceedings") and later appeared with the same title in a journal (the type of such a publication is "article").
    3. (5 points) Find the 10 scientists with the highest number of collaborators restricted to type "articles". For this question, two scientists have collaborated if they write at least one "article" together; the number of papers they have written together does not matter. The number of collaborators of a scientist is the number of other scientists he/she has written at least one "article" with. Return the author name and the number of other authors he/she has collaborated with, for the 10 authors with the highest number of collaborators.

  2. (30 points) Does everything work correctly and do all the buttons and links that we click indeed do what they are expected to do? We will see if you are really accessing the database dynamically and are not just "looking up" the data from some ready made source. We will ensure this by typing ad-hoc queries. You will also need to make sure that all query results have column names neatly presented and that data is clearly tabulated.

  3. (20 points) A project report where you summarize all steps of your project in a single document. If possible, include snapshots of your web interface. This report can be easily created by cutting-and-pasting all the previous reports that you submitted, making sure you include the E/R diagram, the details about any normalization, your relational schema and, the queries you created (above) in the previous steps of the project. Include the role of each team member in the project. Clearly identify the scope of everybody's contribution. If there were any problems during the course of the project (due to less than complete participation by some team member), please identify them. Mention your project web-page in the first page of your report. Include your answer to the next question too. Of the 20 points, five are reserved for neatness, presentation, style, consistency etc.

  4. (40 points) Implement some extra functionality (extra compared to the style guide). In your project report, clearly list exactly what you have implemented and how we can test it. Note that you must implement some extra functionality to have a chance of getting upto 40 points. Here are some suggestions for this step:

  5. (15 points, Extra credit) If the extra functionality is exceptional, you can get upto 15 points of extra credit, depending on how complex your application is. For example, one thing you can do is if you find a way to integrate and use Amazon AWS services for this project.

Last Updated: Sat, Apr 9 2016