Introduction to Information Science - IS 2000

Department of Information Science and Telecommunication

University of Pittsburgh

1998 Ė Dr. James G. Williams

 

Introduction

This course is designed to provide an introduction to Information Science for students from a number of related disciplines. The course consists of a series of sessions on the major contributing areas of study to Information Science including an initial discussion of the conceptual foundations and historical underpinnings of the field. The course is intended to act as a forum for discussion of the many questions asked in information science -- a field o f study still being defined and developed. The course will encourage students with different backgrounds to work and think together. This will be stimulated by several group projects outlined for the course. Students will work together on two small sys tem analysis and design projects that will be prototyped using Visual Basic, Microsoft Access, and HTML. Information Science faculty will be asked to act as experts in various aspects of the project. Faculty, if available, may attend sessions to present an overview of their area of teaching and research in the context of the topics and projects as well as answer questions posed by students. The readings provide an introduction to selected topical areas but should be considered a starting point and examp les for students to discover and read other articles and books. Students are expected to do the readings and prepare questions to be discussed in class. These questions must be emailed to the professor at least 2 days prior to class. The emphasis in th e projects will be on acquiring some basic knowledge and skills as well as gaining an understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of the field and the importance of the various disciplines to the analysis, design, development and operation of modern inf ormation systems. Students will be divided into work groups of from 4 to 6 students depending on class size. Work groups will prepare, for each session, a 2 to 4 page paper that summarizes relevant readings and answers to the questions posed in the sylla bus for each session in terms of the topic of the upcoming session and the current project. At least 25% of the readings must be other than those on the reading list. A brief description of each project is included on the WEB page for the course. The we ekly reading, answers to questions and project summary reports will be emailed to the instructor as an MS Word attachment at jim@sis.pitt.edu. These will be posted to the WEB page for the course along with frequently asked questions and other information and resources.

 

Goals of the Course

Upon completion of this course, the students will be able to:

  1. Describe and discuss the history, philosophical bases, academic roots, conceptual structure, methodologies, and technologies related to information science and systems.
  2. Understand and perform a set of basic technology tasks related to computer systems, peripherals, information systems, and the World Wide Web.
  3. Describe and discuss the specializations in Information Science.
  4. Describe and analyze information systems in a variety of contexts.
  5. Analyze his/her own contributions to the field as well as those areas in which collegial efforts will most aid his/her work.
  6. Develop a plan for achieving a well-rounded portfolio of skills in information science.

 

Course Requirements

  1. Complete all readings specified for the course and discover and document at least 25% more readings.
  2. Complete the information system projects, conducting the appropriate needís analysis, technical analysis and develop a prototype of the information system for the projects outlined on the WEB page.

 

Schedule

The Overall schedule for the course is as follows:

  1. Course Requirements and Introduction to Information and Systems

  1. Information Systems and Architectures
  2. Information System Design and Software Engineering
  3. Models for Information Systems

  1. Human Information Processing and AI

  1. Communication Theory and Practice

  1. Data Structures and Database Management Systems
  2. Mid-Term Examination
  3. Information Storage and Retrieval
  4. Document Processing and Office Automation
  5. Graphics, Visualization, and Interface Design
  6. MIS, DSS, EIS, and the Management of Information and Knowledge
  7. The Discipline and Profession of Information Science
  8. Final Reports
  9. Final Examination

 

Required and Recommended Readings

Students will be asked to read the required book by Peter Denning and Robert Metcalf, Beyond Calculation: The Next Fifty Years of Computing, Copernicus Press, 1997. This book will h elp to set the context for the study of Information Science and related technologies. In addition, students should read all or portions of the following books:

Robert Lucky. Silicon Dreams: Information, Man, and Machine. St. Martinís Press, 1989.

Donald Norman. The Design of Everyday Things. Doubleday, 1990.

Martin Cambell-Kelly and William Aspray. Computer: A History of the Information Machine. Basic Books, 1996.

Dennis Shasha and Cathy Lazere. Out of Their Minds: The Lives and Discoveries of 15 Great Computer Scientists. Copernicus, 1995.

Pohl. C++ for C Programmers, Benjamin Cummings, 1989.

Microsoft. Visual Basic Programmers Guide. Microsoft, 1996.

Sobell. A Practical Guide to Unix System V.

 

Associated with each lecture are a series of readings. Some of these readings can be found in the SIS library on the third floor and some have been placed on reserve. Part of being a professional requires the finding of information to solve problems and this course will give you practice in this activity. You are not restricted to the reading list which are simply suggestions but you may read any articles which you find relevant to the session topics and projects which may be in the l ibrary or in trade journals.

 

Week 1

 

Topics

  1. Course Introduction

  1. Introduction to Information Science

  1. Conceptual Models
  2. Theoretical Bases and Interdisciplinary Nature

  1. The Information Society
  2. Informating (Zuboffís Concept)
  3. Information - What is It?
  4. Signals and Data
  5. Information and Systems
  6. Information in Human Systems
  7. Information in Artificial Systems
  8. Knowledge Structures and Knowledge Engineering
  9. Some useful Unix commands to get started

 

Readings

 

Questions for Week 1

 

Week 2

 

Topics

  1. Information Systems Analysis and Design
  2. Reengineering Work
  3. System Problem Setting and Definition
  4. System Architecture
  5. The Components of Information Systems

 

Readings

 

Questions for Week 2

 

Week 3

 

Topics

  1. Information System Analysis and Design
  2. Analysis Tools and Techniques
  3. Flow, Structure and Object Diagrams
  4. Mathematical tools
  5. Simulation tools
  6. Analysis Techniques for Information Science
  7. Industrial Engineering Techniques
  8. Software Metrics
  9. Software Engineering
  10. Project Management
  11. Hardware Technology

 

Readings

 

Questions For Week 3

 

Week 4

 

Topics

  1. Research Methods in Information Science
  2. Statistical Techniques
  3. Experimental Protocols
  4. Human Subjects Considerations
  5. Models of Information Systems
  6. Centralized
  7. Distributed/Client-Server
  8. Cooperative Systems
  9. Introduction to Visual Basic
  10. Principles of good programming?
  11. "Management" problems in software engineering?
  12. "Tools" for software engineering?

 

Readings

 

Questions for Week 4

 

Week 5

 

Topics

  1. Cognitive Science
  2. Human Information Processing
  3. History and Models of Human Information Processing
  4. Early Problem Solving Models
  5. Artificial Intelligence
  6. Procedural and Semantic Networks
  7. Computational Logic
  8. Frames and Production Systems
  9. General Purpose and Domain Specific Models
  10. Neural Networks and Parallel Processing
  11. Human Factors in System Design
  12. Ergonomic Considerations
  13. Physiological Considerations
  14. Cognitive Considerations
  15. Social/Cultural Considerations
  16. The Cognitive Model of Processes
  17. The cognition of Programming
  18. Models of the User

 

Readings

 

Questions for Week 5

 

Week 6

 

Topics

  1. Data Types
  2. Data Structures
  3. File Structures
  4. Access Methods
  5. History of Data Bases
  6. Data Modeling
  7. Relational Data Bases
  8. Relational Calculus
  9. Object-Oriented Data Bases
  10. Data Base Design
  11. Query Languages
  12. Introduction to ACCESS DBMS

 

Readings

 

Questions for Week 6

 

Week 7

 

Topics

  1. Communication Theory
  2. History -- Shannon
  3. Communication and Language
  4. Coding Theory
  5. Coding Techniques
  6. Compression Techniques
  7. Encryption
  8. Model of a Communication System
  9. Signals and Signaling
  10. Telecommunications and Networking
  11. Voice and Data Systems
  12. Local, Metropolitan, and Wide Area Networks
  13. Electronic and Optical Systems
  14. Standards and Protocols
  15. Relationship to Distributed Computing Services

 

Readings

 

 

Questions for Week 7

 

Week 8 - Midterm

 

Week 9

 

Topics

  1. Information Storage and Retrieval
  2. Text Storage
  3. Full Text Storage
  4. Retrieval Algorithms
  5. Retrieval Performance Measures
  6. Image Storage and Retrieval
  7. Intelligent Query Systems
  8. Natural Language Processing

  1. The World Wide Web
  2. HyperText Markup Language (HTML)
  3. Web Servers

 

Readings

 

Questions for Week 9

 

Week 10

 

Topics

  1. Graphics
  2. Graphics Operations
  3. Basic Transformations
  4. Graphics Hardware
  5. Advanced Transformations
  6. Reality Enhancing Factors
  7. Demonstration of Graphics Applications
  8. Image Processing and Visualization
  9. Imaging Technologies
  10. Image Retrieval
  11. Image Display and Operations
  12. Multimedia Application Development

 

Readings

 

Questions for Week 10

 

Week 11

 

Topics

  1. Document Processing and Office Automation
  2. Text and Document Processing
  3. Changing Models of Document/Text Processing
  4. Electronic Publishing
  5. New Concepts and Technologies for Document Processing
  6. Organizations and Documents
  7. Hypertext
  8. Multimedia
  9. Search Paradigms
  10. Architecture
  11. Productivity Issues
  12. Office System (ALL-IN-ONE)
  13. Graphics
  14. Scientific Visualization
  15. Interface Design
  16. UIMS
  17. Design Tools and Systems
  18. Windows
  19. The X Window System
  20. Virtual Reality

 

Readings

 

Question for Week 11

 

Week 12

 

Topics

  1. MIS, DSS and EIS
  2. Traditional Information Systems
  3. Data Processing for Organization
  4. Management Information Systems
  5. The Management of Information Systems
  6. Decision Support Systems
  7. Executive Information Systems
  8. End User Computing
  9. Hybrid Systems
  10. Information Resource Management
  11. Information as a Corporate Resource
  12. The Information Center Concept

 

Readings

 

Questions for Week 12

 

Week 13

 

Topics

  1. Information Science Profession
  2. The Future of Information Science
  3. Jobs, Skills, and Knowledge
  4. Curriculum for Information Science

 

Readings

 

Questions for Week 13

 

Week 14

This week students will report on one of the projects they have been working on during the entire semester. Each group will present one of their projects and discuss the methods used and how various are as of Information Science integrate with the project

 

Week 15 - Final

 

Project Descriptions and Project/Session Relationships and Deliverables

 

Week 1

Data is found in different forms, formats and media which humans have the capability to process. Different views of large amounts of data and information can be provided by different access methods, organizations, displays and represen tations. The fact that information can be measured without any semantic context provides an advantage for certain applications but may not be applicable for all philosophical and sociological aspects of information. The measure of information as propose d by Shannon and Weaver may have applicability in the design of various aspects of an information system. Write a single page that discusses how Shannonís measure of information might be useful in the design of a data display that provides information to a human. Use one of the editors (Emacs, Pico, Ed, Vi) on the SIS, University, or other Unix systems available to you. Use the sendmail, Pine or Elm email software on the Unix system to send the document to me at jim@sis.pitt.edu.

 

Week 2

This part of the project requires the design of an information system for a relatively simple application that is part of a larger system. The context for this project is an educational organization with the typical financial/accounting, m arketing/Sales (recruitment), manufacturing (Teaching), inventory control (retention/graduation), etc. functions. The specific project is to design a class information system that can be used by all organizational units of the organization including management decision making without duplication across organizational units. Assume the organization is the University of Pittsburgh or any major university. The project's primary database is information about the course and students but can be expanded beyond this to encompass a very large domain. The goals is to provide information for the instructor and the students of a class. This project presupposes that we all know what a system is and in part icular, what an information system is. It also assumes that we know the nature of the system problem that we are trying to resolve. How do we go about understanding the problem setting well enough so that we can actually design a system to meet the goals and objectives of the project? Once we understand the problem then we must construct an architecture for the proposed system. What is meant by architecting a system? What are the ways to go about building an architecture? What are the results/deliverab les and how is it useful to a system designer? It is important to realize that an information system is concerned with people, processes, products and productivity as they can be affected by or affect hardware and software technologies. What technologie s are available to implement the proposed system and what characteristics of the technology are important to understand? You need to deliver a statement of the design problem, some preliminary analysis of the problem using examples from books, magazines, personal experience, WWW, etc., an architecture statement that includes a set of principles and a structure in the form of a diagram of the proposed architecture.

 

Week 3

After and during the building of an architecture, system analysis/design methods and tools are used to document the requirements at various levels of detail for the proposed system. The architecture is a very high level component desig n that guides the more detailed functional design which may use a life cycle approach, prototype approach or a combination of these to arrive at the requirements, feasibility, project specifications and evaluation of hardware and software technologies. S oftware engineering methods can be used to specify the activities for the project and to estimate the resources required and the level of integration needed. What are the detailed list of tasks that need to be completed for the project and how do we esti mate the resources and time required to complete each activity. What activities can proceed in parallel? What happens if any particular activity should fall behind schedule? You are to develop an analysis and detailed design document in electronic form for the customer information system based upon a set of parameters for the company that we discuss in class and that you get from doing research about such companies and their information requirements.

 

Week 4

The project requires that a usability study be performed that evaluates the on-line system that you design. How should you design such an experiment? What hypotheses or research questions need to be asked? What assumptions are being made? What are the independent and dependent variables? What data should be collect collected? How should the data be collected? How should we analyze the data collected? What types of controls need to be implemented to make sure extraneous variables donít taint the results? How do we guarantee reliability and validity? You need to develop, using Visual Basic, two different interfaces for the proposed customer information system. You need to document a methodology for comparing these two diff erent interfaces to the system in terms of usability.

 

Week 5

The project's information system is being designed for humans who use their cognitive abilities to define their queries, formulate their queries, evaluate the results of a search and display and interpret the data. All this is performe d via the interface designed for the system. In addition, the designer of the system must use high levels of information processing and related cognitive functions to perform the design. What cognitive science issues are important to consider in the des ign of this system? What human information processing factors should be used in designing this system? Artificial intelligence has been touted as a technology useful in information systems. How could AI be used in the proposed system? How could you me asure the cost/benefits of using AI? How could the use of AI change the design of the proposed system? The output from the system could be lists/tables, statistics, maps, documents, etc. or more sophisticated data visualization presentations. What are the basic principles of humans factors that should be followed in the design an interface? How can humans factors be measured to determine how well they have been incorporated into the design? You are to prepare an example of data visualization based on the customer data you will store in your database.

Week 6

The project must store a large amount of data that must be quickly accessible based upon the users view of the application. The application involves both text and image data which are related. Some type of data structures are necessar y in order to provide the type of storage and access required. What are the alternative data structures available and what are the tradeoffs among the alternative structures? What data structures are most viable for the application and for what tasks? How do you justify one data structure over another? Typical database management systems include data structures, query interfaces and report generation. The project has some unique features which many traditional database management systems can not hand le very well. How do the available database models match the appllication and which DBMS' are best suited for the application? How do you measure the performance of a DBMS for a specific application? You are to develop the database schemas using Micros oft ACCESS and print the description of the schema.

 

Week 7

The project involves transmission of data within the organizationís LAN and possibly a WAN that may involve both text and images. What does information/communication theory tell us that might help determine how much information is cont ained in the data we are storing and transmitting. Also, how could information/communication theory help us compress the data we need to store? Since the fidelity of the data we transmit and store is critical to the application, how can information/comm unication theory help us ensure a high level of reliability in storage and transmission? The project requires that remote access to the be database available. This in turn requires that some form of data communications and networking capabilities be par t of the system design. What are the alternative telecommunication methods that might be used to provide remote access to the database? What are the fundamental telecommunication and networking issues that need to be resolved as part of the system desig n? What are the networking software issues that need to be solved? You are to develop a network design for the organization with special emphasis on the customer information system. At this point, you have a prototype for your information system. Ente r some data into each of the database tables via a visual basic form and write Visual Basic Code to retrieve one or more records. This is the end of this project.

Week 8 Mid-Term

 

Week 9

The providers and users of the World Wide Web (WWW) view it as a very large information storage and retrieval (ISR) application. Most such ISR applications include documents, bibliographic data and in some cases structured business dat a. The new class project is intended to let you learn how to develop homepages for a project called "Uniquely Pennsylvania" as part of the State-Wide Link-To-Learn initiative. How should the data be entered, analyzed (indexed, classified, etc. ), verified (QA) and stored such that it can be retrieved and displayed to the user. Could the images be automatically indexed based on the digital representation and how could this be done? What type of interface should be used for this purpose? Since full text is included as part of the database it may be possible that some natural language processing techniques could be applied to enhance the analysis and subsequent retrieval of information from the database. What NAL methods might be useful for thi s purpose? How could such methods be implemented? What might the use of NAL methods have on the performance of the system? You are to select a topic about Pennsylvania such as Railroads, Amish, Agriculture, Lumber, Coal, Shipbuilding, Medicine, Communic ation, Transportation, Steelmaking, Higher Education, etc. and gather text and images that define and explain how and why this topic is important to Pennsylvania. You may take several views for how this data may be used including education (K-12), market ing, economic development, etc. You must include at least 3 images but you may include film clips, and audio clips as well.

 

Week 10

The implementation of Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) and the processing of images is based upon computer graphics. Computer graphics is based upon a small set of mathematical transformations that permits a computer program to provide the user with some control over graphic displays and image processing. What are the uses of graphical transformations for the proposed project? What are the problems that must be overcome in terms of software and hardware to provide a graphical user in terface in a networked environment? How can a user at a remote PC connect over the internet to a server and get the database access and image display and processing that he desires? How can a user dialup the server from a PC and get the database access and image display and processing he wants? The problems of resolution and color are critical to this project since the images are being scanned with 24 bit color and 300 dots/inch (dpi). What is the relationship between color and resolution? How can one translate from one resolution to another to accomodate different display devices? What are the differences between different formats for storing images, e.g. TIFF, JPEG, PCX, ect. Could CAD/CAM techniques be applied to this project and if so how? Your task is to scan at least 3 images in GIF format for your "Uniquely Pennsylvania" project and FTP one of them to me.

 

Week 11

It is not very hard to imagine that a user might want to incorporate information from the "Uniquely pennsylvania" project into a document or to build documents from the Web pages. In fact, the "Uniquely Pennsylvania" ; web pages were constructed from documents you found. This begs the question of what a document is and whether a homepage is a document itself. How might people use a database as a document or how might they use portions of a database such as the custom er database you constructed to build a document? What role does electronic publishing play in the possible uses of a database? How might some types of people use the "Uniquely Pennsylvania" pages in their daily office work environment? How co uld such a web site change the way people and organizations do work and measure productivity? Virtual Reality has also become a catch phrase over the last few years. What is meant by virtual reality? How could virtual reality techniques be used in relat ion to this Web Site? How would you implement a virtual reality environment for this application? Implement, using HTML, the information you collected about your "Uniquely Pennsylvania" topic as a series of web pages. Provide me a copy via em ail.

 

Week 12

An old saw is "Everything needs managed" and we experienced this as our project proceeded through its various stages. Managing things is easy but managing people is difficult. Managing an information system is one aspect of managing n ear and dear to our profession but the users of information systems use the information in our systems to manage people, places, events, processes and systems such as human resources, accounts payables, accounts receivables, general ledger, sales, marketi ng, billing, collection, etc. What are the management related aspects of the system we have developed for the project? How might the system we have developed be used by management personnel? How would our system have been designed differently if it was to be used as an MIS, DDS or EIS? Some people advocate the notion that information is an organizational resource and should be managed via an information center. How does the concept of an information center relate to our project? Would we have design ed our system differently with an information center concept in mind?

 

Week 13

You have elected to join the Information Science Profession. What professional activities and responsibilities were part of the project that was used in this course? What specialities within the profession are you able to identify? W hat liabilities might be associated with the project that we worked on? What roles can an information scientists play within an organization? Will these roles change in the future? What should an information science curriculum look like and how should it be implemented?

 

Week 14

This is your week to present to me a summary of the project and an evaluation of the learning experience that you have had in this course

 

Week 15 Final