Data helps solve problems.
— Anne Wojcicki

Most software engineers use database systems, but few understand them. It is not surprising, then, that database related issues are a common cause of application failure, and that misuse of databases frequently impedes engineering team productivity.

Our course aims to provide practicing software engineers with a firm understanding of the architectures of database systems and the tradeoffs that they make. We hope this will help our students make better choices when deciding between database systems and their features, to better utilize their chosen technologies and to more effectively debug any issues.


  1. Introduction to database engines
  2. Sorting, hashing and single table queries
  3. Joins
  4. Indexes
  5. Relational algebra and the relational model
  6. Query optimization
  7. Transactions and concurrency
  8. Distributed databases (Dynamo, Cassandra etc)
  9. Large-scale dataflow engines (MapReduce/Hadoop, Spark etc)

Projects and exercises

This course involves a significant practical component: implementing a simplified relational database management system from scratch. Most classes will cover some amount of theory, which you will then directly apply to your own DBMS implementation. In addition, the optimization portion of the curriculum involves anticipating, reasoning about and optimizing query plans for a handful of given queries, in what is one of our most popular and illuminating exercise.

Assumed knowledge

This course assumes confident programming abilities, and some familiarity with computer architecture. Working familiarity with at least one relational database management system is also highly advised.

Schedule and price

This course is next scheduled to run Mondays and Thursdays 6pm-9pm and Sundays 10am-1pm for three weeks starting Monday, 1 May 2017. The total price is $1,800.

Apply now Still have questions? Contact us.
1141 Howard St
San Francisco, California
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