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PhD studentship in Database Systems


School of Informatics

About the Project

One fully funded PhD position to work with Dr Paolo Guagliardo in the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh, on a project titled “Expressive Representations of Missing Values in Relational Database Management Systems”.

The aim of this project is to provide an efficient and robust implementation of marked nulls (essentially, null values with identifiers) in database management systems. In particular, the project seeks to answer the following research questions:
• Can marked nulls be implemented using only the standard features provided by SQL, so as to be portable among different systems? SQL’s ROW constructors and custom user types might offer a solution, but this is unlikely to be efficient, and more refined implementations need to be devised by leveraging open-source systems, such as PostgreSQL.

• What are the storage requirements for marked nulls? SQL nulls take little space in many implementations, but marked nulls come with an identifier, which must be stored. How much is the overhead, and how does it affect database updates?

• Would the run-time performance of queries be affected by marked nulls, and to which extent? To answer these questions we need a thorough experimental analysis on standard database benchmarks.

• How do we deal with integrity constraints? If marked nulls are seen as regular values by the system, we could then use them in places where they are not normally allowed in SQL, such as in primary keys. How do we ensure consistency in these cases?

For further information and for informal enquiries, please contact Dr Paolo Guagliardo ().

Candidate’s profile

• Familiarity with PostgreSQL or MySQL (experience with other relational database systems could be acceptable; please get in touch before applying)
• Basic programming skills in C (or C++) and rudiments of SQL
• A good Bachelor’s degree (2.1 or above, or international equivalent) and/or Masters degree in a relevant subject (physics, mathematics, engineering, computer science, or related subject)
• Proficiency in English (both oral and written)
• Knowledge of the Unix/Linux environment, scripting languages (e.g., Bash) and version control systems (e.g., Git and/or SVN) are highly desirable


Application Information

Applicants should apply via the University’s admissions portal (EUCLID) and apply for the following programme:
https://www.ed.ac.uk/studying/postgraduate/degrees/index.php?r=site/view&edition=2020&id=493
with a start date of 1st March 2021.

Applicants should state “PhD Database Systems” and the research supervisor (Dr Paolo Guagliardo) in their application and Research Proposal document.

Complete applications submitted by 30th September 2020 will receive full consideration; after that date applications will be considered until the position is filled. The anticipated start date is 1st March 2021 but later start dates can be considered.

Applicants must submit:
• All degree transcripts and certificates (and certified translations if applicable)
• Evidence of English Language capability (where applicable)
• A short research proposal (max 2 pages)
• A full CV and cover letter describing your background, suitability for the PhD, and research interests (max 2 pages)
• Two references (note that it the applicant’s responsibility to ensure reference letters are received before the deadline)

Only complete applications (i.e., those that are not missing the above documentation) will progress forward to Academic Selectors for further consideration.

Environment

The School of Informatics is one of the largest in Europe and currently the top Informatics institute in the UK for research power, with 40% of its research outputs considered world-leading (top grade), and almost 50% considered top grade for societal impact. The University of Edinburgh is constantly ranked among the world’s top universities and is a highly international environment with several centres of excellence.

Funding Notes

The studentship starting in the academic year 2020/21 covers:
• Full time PhD tuition fees for a student with a Home/EU fee status (£4,407 per annum) or overseas fee status (£23,500 per annum)
• A tax free stipend of GBP £15,285 per year for 3 years
• Additional programme costs of £1000 per year

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