An Astronomers Introduction to Databases and SQL – Paul Hancock

Title: An Astronomers Introduction to Databases and SQL


Speaker: Paul Hancock, Curtin University (Paul.Hancock AT


Date: 2pm (AEST) Monday 28th April 2014


Abstract: In the era of big data, the ways in which we store and access data are changing. Despite being at the forefront of big data creation, astronomers are generally way behind on methods to store and access large data sets. The sloan digital sky survey (SDSS) was one of the first truly large data sets encountered in astronomy, and one of the first to embrace new storage and access technologies. The SDSS data are too large and complex to ship en mass, or to process on most users’ computers. The solution was to serve the data via a web interface that would allow users to access and download only the subset of data that is relevant to their study. To get the most out of the SDSS data, without incurring large download costs, a user must be proficient in the language of databases – SQL. As more and more surveys and simulations store their data in databases, astronomers will need to become more familiar with the language of databases in order to make best use of both their data and time.


In this talk I will introduce the concept of a database, motivate your need for database technology both on the large and small scale, and give an introduction to SQL.


Additional Material: Talk slides are available for download here.


Link to Lecture: You can find the lecture on YouTube here, or on Google+ here.