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Course Summary


Instructor: Barzan Mozafari (To ensure a timely response, ALL email inquiries regarding this course should have a title starting with "EECS584").

GSI: Rui Liu (ruixliu AT


There is no official textbook for this course. The reading list is a collection of papers, which will be posted on the course web page. However, students need to be familiar with the introductory-level material covered by EECS 484. Occasionally, optional readings are suggested from the following book:

  • Database Management Systems (3rd edition) - by Raghu Ramakrishnan and Johannes Gehrke, McGraw Hill, 2003. Note: You do not need to purchase this book as its copies will be on reserve at the library.

Course Objective

EECS 584 will cover a number of advanced topics in big data, database technology, and modern data-intensive systems. The topics include advanced concurrency control mechanisms, modern query processing and optimization, advanced indexing and storage, parallel and distributed databases, map-reduce and NoSQL, database-as-a-service (DB clouds), columnar and in-memory databases, machine learning at scale, approximate query processing, and database security and privacy.

In addition to learning advanced topics in data management and data-intensive systems, this course will provide the students an opportunity to practice important research skills:

  • They will gain experience reading and critically evaluating original research papers.
  • They will practice communicating complex technical material, both orally and in written form.
  • They will complete a small-scale original research project of their own choosing.

The prerequisite for this course is EECS 484, equivalent coursework, or permission from the instructor.

Course Structure

EECS 584 consists of five main components: paper presentation, participation in class discussions, writing paper summaries, a midterm exam, and a final project.

Note: To pass this course, you need to obtain at least 30% of the grade in each of these five components. For example, a score of 20% for class participation will subject you to a failing grade (at the instructor's discretion) even if you obtain a 100% score in all other components. In other words, your final grade is a weighted average of your scores in these different components only if your score is above 30% in each component.

1. Paper Presentation

The majority of this course will be conducted as a seminar. A typical class will include a student presentation (approximately 30 minutes) followed by a class discussion of the designated paper(s). Each student will be assigned to present a paper at least once throughout the semester. When the number of students exceed the number of papers, some papers will be presented by a team of two students. When you present a paper, your goals should be as follows:

  • Motivate the paper and provide the necessary background. Why is this paper important? What problem does it solve? In some cases, you may find it useful to refer to related material (e.g., from the textbook), and to explain how the concepts in the assigned paper advance the state of the art.
  • Provide an overview of the paper's key contributions.
  • Illustrate key technical points. Examples are a great way to do this.

You will need to strike a balance in your presentation: realize that there will not be time to cover all of the technical details, so you will need to decide which details are most important. Here are some additional resources that can help you prepare and deliver a good presentation:

Presentation Requirements: When it is your turn to present, you must read your assigned paper well in adavance.

To help improve the quality of the presentations, all student presenters are required to meet the instructor in his office according to the following schedule. You must prepare your draft slides and email them to the instructor prior to your practice meeting time. You must create your slides in PowerPoint using this template.

Your presentation will be evaluated based on several criteria: how well-prepared and organized your presentation is, and the extent to which you have distilled the key information of the original paper. Please refer to the grading table).

2. Participation in Class Discussions

You are expected to attend all lectures (see exceptions), and more importantly, actively participate in class discussions. Even if you are not currently enrolled (e.g., undecided or on a waitlist) but may enroll before the add/drop deadline, it is your responsibility to still attend the lectures and fulfill all the class requirements.

3. Paper Reviews

All students, whether presentors or not, are expected to carefully read the papers before class (i.e., mandatory readings) and write a short review/summary for each paper according to the following deadline. This serves two purposes: (1) it ensures that you will be prepared to participate in class discussions, and (2) it improves your critical skills in evaluating other people’s research, and thereby your own paper writing skills.

Your reviews can be brief, but should contain the following components:

  • What is the problem addressed by the paper, and why is this problem important? What is the main approach proposed by the paper? (1-2 paragraphs)
  • What are the strengths and technical contributions of the paper? (1 paragraph)
  • Describe the main drawbacks of the paper (1 paragraph)

How to Submit Your Reviews: You must submit your reviews using this link only. Submission are managed through an automated system and will not be accepted after the deadline (no exceptions). Submitting reviews by emailing the instructor(s) or any other means will NOT be accepted. Once your review is submitted successfully, you will receive an automated confirmation email. Please check your spam folder if you do not receive a confirmation.

All reviews will be graded as “weak”, “average”, and “strong”. See some examples of strong, medium, and weak reviews. Reviews of each paper will be graded either by the GSI or by one of the students themselves. If you are assigned to grade a particular paper, follow these instructions to submit your grades.

Note: You are on your honor not to read or use other students' reviews before the submission deadline. Read the engineering honor code. No violation of the honor code will be tolerated. However, once the deadline has passed, you are encouraged to read other students' reviews by following these instructions to see other' perspectives and also learn about strengths or weaknesses you might have overlooked in your own review.

4. Midterm Exam

There will be a closed-book midterm exam based on the mandatory readings of the class. Each student must complete the exam solely by her or his own efforts. Questions during the exam can be asked only of the course instructors. The exam must be completed within the specified time. No makeup exam will be offered. Please check the midterm date and time before enrollment. See the midterm date, time and location.

5. Final Project

A major component of this course is a class project. For this project, you form a team (see our team size policy) and choose a research topic in the area of data management, and explore it in detail. Projects can range from quite theoretical to implementation-heavy ones, and should include some original work. In other words, survey articles are not permitted. You may choose to implement an existing algorithm or technique, but this should be done in order to conduct a unique experiment, or to test a novel hypothesis. All project topics need to be approved by the instructor to avoid situations where the topic or scope is not acceptable for the final project of this course. To ensure that you will have enough time and feedback and will be able to turn in a high-quality project, we require you to follow the following milestones:

  1. Identify your team members as soon as possible. See our team size policy.
  2. Submit an initial project proposal by this deadline. Include the names of all team members on the first page.
  3. Schedule a 10-15 minute meeting with the instructor (by making an appointment). In this meeting you will pitch your idea and the instructor will give you some early feedback. You are more than welcome to keep revising your initial idea and coming back for more feedback, until you and the instructor reach a mutually aggreeable topic and scopre for your project. You must think about your topic of interest before the meeting.
  4. Finalize your team and project proposal (topic and scope) and submit them by this deadline.
  5. Present a mid-semester progress report on your project. These presentations will be held during regular lecture hours (see class schedule for exact dates). Aim for a 10 minute presentation, followed by a 5-minute Q/A. It's best that all team members participate in the presentation (preferably, each person describing her/his own part of the project). Make sure you rehearse your presentation many times, to ensure that you can clearly communicate your project. Similar to the paper presentations in this class, your goal should be to give an introduction to your problem (very briefly), describe your contribution and highlight your main results.
  6. Participate in the poster session, to be held on this date. Create and present a poster summarizing all your project results. Easels will be provided (posters should be no larger than 30inch by 40inch).
  7. Turn in your final deliverables by placing them in a single ZIP file (not to exceed 500GB), uploading it to a private folder (e.g., Google Drive or Box), and sharing a link with your instructor(s) no later than this deadline. Your final deliverables must include the following items:

    1. Your mid-semester and poster presentation files.
    2. Your final report, in the form of a research paper. You should try to write the best research paper that you can using the results of your project. By this time, you have read many good papers throughout the class, and thus, you should have an idea of what makes a good research paper. In a nutshell, your report should clearly present the following: your problem statement, your motivation (why it's important), your literature review (the previous work in this area), your main idea and approach, your implementation techniques, as well as your (empirical or theoretical) results and experimental setup.
      • Paper Format: Your paper should follow the ACM formatting (preferably in LaTeX, but Microsoft Word is also acceptable), using one of the templates provided at for Word and LaTeX (version 2e). (For LaTeX, both Option 1 and Option 2 are acceptable.) The font size, margins, inter-column spacing, and line spacing in the templates must be kept unchanged. Your main body of the paper should not exceed 12 (2-column) pages. You can have as many appendix pages as you deem necessary, but the first 12 pages of your paper (including references) should be self-contained, i.e. if one decides not to read your appendix, one should still be able to understand your project's contributions.
    3. Your code and documentation. Place your entire source code in a single ZIP file (no binaries please). Your top directory should include two files: INSTALL.txt and README.txt, as described next.
      • Your INSTALL.txt file should provide the detailed steps required to compile your source code. For instance, "go and download and install SomeThirdParty library" is not an acceptable instruction. Instead, provide the exact commands and URLs needed to install other libraries that are needed to compile and use your source code.
      • Your README.txt should contain two sections. In the first section, you should explain the Usage of your tool, e.g. command line arguments and pointers to some small text data that can be used to run your tool. In the second section, please explain the major functions of your source code and where to find their implementations in your source code.

It is extremely important to start working on your project as early as possible in the semester, or you are unlikely to finish in time. You can always reach out to, or meet up with, the instructor if you have questions or concerns about your project progress throughout the semester.

Key Details

Lecture Times: TuTh 1:30-3:30 PM
Lecture Room: Beyster 1690
Lectures Dates: Sep 4, 2018-Dec 11, 2018
Office Hours: (By appointments only) 4769 Beyster Building

Presentation Practice Schedule: Student presentors must meet the instructor in his office the Wednesday before the week in which they will present at these times: 5:00-5:40 PM for student(s) presenting the following Tuesday, and 5:40-6:20 PM for student(s) presenting the following Thursday. Note: if you cannot make it, you must notify the instructor at least 48 hours before your appointment so that it can be rescheduled.

Presentation Submission Deadline: Student presenters must email the final copy of their slides (both PPTX and PDF) to both the GSI and the instructor no later than 10AM of the morning of their presentation date. If your presentation contains animations, it is your responsibility to ensure that the generated PDF is still readable.

Presentation Template: Please use this template.

Max Number of Missed/Skipped Lectures: You may skip up to 2 lectures due to legitimate reasons.

Review Submission Deadline: By 8:59 PM each Monday you must submit your reviews for all the papers that will be discussed during that week. For the first week's papers, the submission deadline is 8:59 PM of the day before day the paper is going to be presented.

Review Grading Deadline: Once you receive an email from the instructors assigning you to grading the reviews for a particular paper, you have a week to complete the task and email the grades back to the instructor who will in turn (periodically) upload them to Canvas. The detailed instructions will be sent to you via email.

How to Read Other Students' Reviews: You can see other students' reviews only after its submission deadline has passed by following this link. If the deadline has passed and you still do not see the reviews for a particular paper, simply try and submit a dummy review for that paper. This will automatically publish the submitted reviews of that paper.

Midterm Time & Location: The midterm will be held 1:30-3:20pm on Oct 23, 2018 in room BBB1690.

Team Size Policy: You must form a team with 1 or 2 other students from the class. One-person teams and teams of larger than 3 are disallowed. Exceptioanlly, 4 students per team are also allowed with the instructor's explicit permission. However, note that the project contribution is expected to be proportional to the number of students in the team.

Initial Project Idea Submission Deadline: Bring in a hard-copy draft (1-2 pages long; word or PDF format) to the lecture on Sep 20, 2018.

Final Project Proposal Submission Deadline: Email your final project proposal (1-3 pages long; word or PDF format) to the instructor by 11pm Oct 4, 2018.

Final Project Posters/Demos: The final project poster/demo session will be held on Dec 11 during regular class hours. Location TBD.

Final Deliverables Submission Deadlines: You must submit your final project deliverables by noon on Dec 12, 2018. See the instructions here.

Grading: The following table summarizes the breakdown of your overall grade.

Paper Presentation: 15%

Each student will be assigned to present at least one paper during the semester. Presentations will be graded on a scale of 0-3 as follows:

  • 0 - Student fails to complete assigned presentation
  • 1 - Presentation is disorganized, hard to follow, or lacking in important details
  • 2 - Presentation is solid, and covers important points with reasonable clarity (typical score)
  • 3 - Presentation is exceptionally insightful (score given infrequently)

Class Participation: 5%

Your participation grade will be based on a qualitative assessment of the value of your contributions in leading and participating in class discussions throughout the semester.

Paper Reviews: 15%

Each student is expected to read and write a review for each of the mandatory readings (see here for details). Each paper review is graded on a scale of 0-3 as follows:

  • 0 - Review not submitted or submitted after the deadline
  • 1 - Weak review
  • 2 - Average review
  • 3 - Strong review
However, three of your reviews with the lowest grade will be ignored in your final score. Therefore, you may choose to skip up to three reviews without penalty. (This is to accommodate unforeseen circumstances throughout the semester.

Midterm Exam: 25%

The midterm will be a closed-book exam.

Final Project: 40%

Your >project grade will be based primarily on your poster presentation and final derliverables. Students in the same team may receive different grades depending on their contributions, i.e., students contributing equally to the project will receive equal grades.

Disabilities: Students with documented disabilities (including invisible disabilities) are encouraged to contact the instructor during the first three weeks of the semester.