CUS1165 Information Technology Assignment

Most major websites are driven by a database system. The information that appears on the website is stored in the database system. Major websites like Amazon or Facebook have many millions of records stored in their database system.

If you have never worked with a database system before, you might imagine that the data for a website is stored in one long list, similar to an Excel spreadsheet. But this is not at all the case. Data is spread across many tables. Each table represents one category of information. For example, a website that sells clothing online would have categories like Item, Customer, Customer Address, Order and Brand. Each of these categories (which are called “entities” in the database world) would have further information (“attributes”). An item, for example, would have attributes like item number, description, title, price, and so on. Some attributes, such as Customer, might have attributes which are also entities, like Customer Address (which consists of address1, address2, city, state, zip). You may recognize these ideas from designing classes in your Java programming class.

Your group has been assigned a website. Your job is to analyze it, and figure out the likely organization of the underlying database. To do that, you need to figure out what all the entities are, and what the attributes are for each entity. You will do this in class in your group, and submit one report through Blackboard. To help you, look at the PubMed example which we looked at in class.


To guide you, answer these questions as you work

  1. Who is in your group?

  2. The URL given to your group is the entry page. Describe here the information that

    is on this page. In many cases, it will be information on the service or products being sold, and a search tool. Write down the kinds of information that can be searched.

  3. What type of information is returned? It is this information that most likely is stored in a database. Is there more than one type of information?

  4. Now, you need to analyze this returned information more closely. The general type or types of information returned will certainly be important entities in the database. Each returned item will likely have many fields or values in it. These are probably attributes. List all entities that result from the basic search, and for each entity, list all attributes. Describe what each attribute means. In some cases you have to click on an individual result to get the full set of attributes.

  5. Some of the attributes may have complex information. For example, a customer address consists of several fields of information. These are probably also entities. Write them down, and list the attributes. For each attribute, include an explanation and the type of data (text or integer for example). You may have to read the site FAQ or help to find out the meaning of some attributes.

  1. Some attributes may contain lists of values. For example, a customer may have several phone numbers. Write down the attributes that are actually lists here.

  2. Some sites will have further search tools to search on the results. Try these out. If the results returned by these further searches are different kinds of information, do the same kind of analysis: list the entities, and the attributes of the entities.


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