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Databases: Introduction to Relational Databases

This course provides a general introduction to databases, and introduces the popular relational data model. It is an introductory course in a series of self-paced courses focusing on databases and related technology, and based on “Databases”, one of Stanford's three inaugural massive open online courses released in the fall of 2011.

Please see the “What you will learn” section below for course grouping by area and suggested pathways. As of April 2020 we are still adding courses to edX; we expect this process to complete by early May 2020.

Databases: Introduction to Relational Databases
This course is archived
Future dates to be announced
Estimated 1 weeks
5–10 hours per week
Self-paced
Progress at your own speed

About this course

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About the Database Series of Courses

"Databases" was one of Stanford's three inaugural massive open online courses in the fall of 2011; it was offered again in MOOC format in 2013 and 2014. The course is now being offered as a set of smaller self-paced courses, which can be assembled in a variety of ways to learn about different aspects of databases. All of the courses are based around video lectures and/or video demos. Many of them include in-video quizzes to check understanding, in-depth standalone quizzes, and/or a variety of automatically-checked interactive programming exercises. Each course also includes a discussion forum and pointers to readings and resources. The courses are described briefly below, along with suggested pathways through them. Taught by Professor Jennifer Widom, the overall curriculum draws from Stanford's popular Databases course.

Why Learn About Databases

Databases are incredibly prevalent -- they underlie technology used by most people every day if not every hour. Databases reside behind a huge fraction of websites; they're a crucial component of telecommunications systems, banking systems, video games, and just about any other software system or electronic device that maintains some amount of persistent information. In addition to persistence, database systems provide a number of other properties that make them exceptionally useful and convenient: reliability, efficiency, scalability, concurrency control, data abstractions, and high-level query languages. Databases are so ubiquitous and important that computer science graduates frequently cite their database class as the one most useful to them in their industry or graduate-school careers.

Course Pathways

The following are a number of suggested pathways through the courses, depending on the topics and depth desired. Of course you are welcome to mix and match the courses any way you like!

Practical Relational Databases and SQL

Basic: INTRODUCTION AND RELATIONAL DATABASES, SQL

Extended version add: INDEXES AND TRANSACTIONS, CONSTRAINTS AND TRIGGERS, VIEWS AND AUTHORIZATION

Comprehensive version also add: ON-LINE ANALYTICAL PROCESSING, RECURSION IN SQL

Practical Relational Databases and SQL with UML Design

Basic: INTRODUCTION AND RELATIONAL DATABASES, UNIFIED MODELING LANGUAGE (UML), SQL

Extended version add: INDEXES AND TRANSACTIONS, CONSTRAINTS AND TRIGGERS, VIEWS AND AUTHORIZATION

Comprehensive version also add: ON-LINE ANALYTICAL PROCESSING, RECURSION IN SQL

Relational Databases and SQL: Foundations and Practice

Basic: INTRODUCTION AND RELATIONAL DATABASES, RELATIONAL ALGEBRA, SQL, RELATIONAL DESIGN THEORY, UNIFIED MODELING LANGUAGE (UML)

Extended version add: INDEXES AND TRANSACTIONS, CONSTRAINTS AND TRIGGERS, VIEWS AND AUTHORIZATION

Comprehensive version also add: ON-LINE ANALYTICAL PROCESSING, RECURSION IN SQL

Semistructured Data

Basic: XML DATA, JSON DATA

With querying add: XPATH AND XQUERY

With querying, comprehensive version add: XSLT

At a glance

  • Institution: StanfordOnline
  • Subject: Computer Science
  • Level: Introductory
  • Prerequisites:

    There are no specific prerequisites for this course, however some computer science background is expected for all of the courses in the Databases series.

  • Language: English
  • Video Transcript: English

What you'll learn

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Stanford's online offering in Databases is now available as a set of self-paced courses created from the original Introduction to Databases course.

Recognizing that different students have different goals in learning about databases, and that many of the topics are modular and independent, in the spring of 2014 we took the original ten-week Introduction to Databases course and broke it into self-paced courses. All of the courses are based around video lectures and/or video demos. Many of them include in-video quizzes, stand-alone quizzes, and/or automatically-checked interactive programming exercises.

The Courses - by Area

Data Models

  • Introduction and Relational Databases
  • XML Data
  • JSON Data

Querying Relational Databases

  • Relational Algebra
  • SQL

Querying XML Databases

  • XPath and XQuery
  • XSLT

Database Design

  • Relational Design Theory
  • Unified Modeling Language (UML)

SQL Advanced Features

  • Indexes and Transactions
  • Constraints and Triggers
  • Views and Authorization
  • On-Line Analytical Processing (OLAP)
  • Recursion in SQL

Suggested Pathways

Practical Relational Databases and SQL

  • Basic: Introduction and Relational Databases, SQL
  • Extended version add: Indexes and Transactions, Constraints and Triggers, Views and Authorization
  • Comprehensive version also add: On-Line Analytical Processing, Recursion in SQL

Practical Relational Databases and SQL with UML Design

  • Basic: Introduction and Relational Databases, Unified Modeling Language, SQL
  • Extended version add: Indexes and Transactions, Constraints and Triggers, Views and Authorization
  • Comprehensive version also add: On-Line Analytical Processing, Recursion in SQL

Relational Databases and SQL: Foundations and Practice

  • Basic: Introduction and Relational Databases, Relational Algebra, SQL, Relational Design Theory, Unified Modeling Language
  • Extended version add: Indexes and Transactions, Constraints and Triggers, Views and Authorization
  • Comprehensive version also add: On-Line Analytical Processing, Recursion in SQL

Semistructured Data

  • Basic: XML Data, JSON Data
  • With querying add: XPath and XQuery
  • With querying, comprehensive version add: XSLT

About the instructors

Frequently Asked Questions

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How long will it take to go through the course material?

All courses in the Databases series are self-paced and include videos, quizzes, and/or exercises. The courses vary considerably in length and complexity, and some students work faster than others, so we're not able to predict an individual time commitment.

What background do I need?

The series of courses does not assume prior knowledge of any specific topics, however a solid computer science foundation -- a reasonable amount of programming, as well as knowledge of basic computer science theory -- will make the material more accessible.

Do I need to buy a textbook?

Detailed lecture notes are provided. Having a textbook in addition to the notes is not necessary, but you might want to purchase one for reference, to reinforce the core material, and as a source of additional exercises. Suggested textbooks and readings are listed as part of the materials.

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