Functional programming in a basic database course
This paper describes why and how a functional programming language was used in an introductory database course. The purpose of the programming exercises in this course is to give students a better understanding of the internal structure and use of databases and database management systems.
We used a functional language for its high level of abstraction and the automatic memory management which make writing a simple database management system considerably easier.
Although the students had no previous knowledge of functional programming, they were capable to obtain useful experience in the database field. In order to enable students to concentrate on the database aspects of the exercises and to make rather elaborated systems in a limited amount of time, we supplied skeletons of the programs to make. Only the parts that are the core of the exercise had to be written by the students.
The exercises appear to serve their purpose very well. The corresponding parts of the exams are made considerably better since the introduction of these exercises in the course. After some initial hesitation, the students indicate that they prefer a functional language for these exercises above the imperative languages they know.
KeywordsQuery Language Practical Work Relational Algebra Database Management System Functional Programming
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