This is the fifth post in a weekly series of blog posts I will be writing to document my experience in CS327E, Elements of Databases, for the Elements of Computing Program at The University of Texas at Austin.

Check out my previous week’s blog post.

Monday, February 11th

I was out sick today. It’s going around, and it’s my turn I guess.

Wednesday, February 13th

Feeling much better than I was on Monday. Got to class and we had a quiz on relational algebra, which we apparently covered last class, here I am completely lost. However, when we went over the answers I was able to get back up to speed pretty quickly. All that was covered was projections (π) and selections (σ). I find it interesting that we are learning the relational algebra behind relational databases. I have done work with databases before and have never even heard of relational algebra, much-less that SQL was based on it. By learning the basic relational algebra concept you can understand the SQL much easier. We are going to be using a relational algebra interpreter to work with some test databases and get a better understanding of what the SQL statements are doing. This stuff is fascinating!

Friday, February 15th

We continued working with SQL through relational algebra concepts today focusing Natural Joins (\bowtie)  and Theta-joins (θ-join). For not having known what relational algebra was at the start of the week, I’m fascinated to realize how powerful the simple statements can be, and the complexity of relationships they can model. I’m learning a whole new vocabulary set for talking about relationships in sets of data. The applicability of this is much greater than just databases. I’m finding that this course is really teaching a much larger set of skills and concepts than I originally thought. As of right now I’d say this class is one of my most valuable and interesting I have taken at UT Austin.

Check out next week’s blog post.

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