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Information Modeling, Spring 2014

These pages provide information for INF 385T Special Topics in Information Science: Information Modeling.

Instructor: Karen Wickett
Class location: UTA 1.504
Date and time: Thursdays, 3-6 p.m.

Instructor information

E-mail: wickett_at_ischool.utexas.edu
Office: UTA 5.416
Office phone: 512-471-3969
Office hours: Wednesdays 3-4 p.m. and by appointment

Please expect a 24-hour turnaround in response to e-mails.

Brief course description

An introduction to the foundations of the information modeling methods used in current digital library applications as well as in information management in general. The specific methods considered are relational database design, conceptual modeling, markup systems, and ontologies. The basic concepts underlying these methods are, respectively, relations, entities, grammars, and logic. Implementations include relational database design, ER/EER/UML diagrams, XML markup languages, and RDF/OWL semantic web languages. First order logic is emphasized throughout as the foundational framework for information modeling in general, and for contemporary web-based information management and delivery systems (including semantic web technologies) in particular.

Students with disabilities

Students with disabilities may request appropriate academic accommodations from the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, Services for Students with Disabilities, 512-471-6259. (Or see their Web site.)

Objectives and Motivation

Objectives: Two sorts of students are anticipated and the course objectives are similar but slightly different for each group. In neither case is prior relevant knowledge assumed.

  1. IML prepares students anticipating generalist responsibilities (as directors, managers, general staff, etc.) to be effective leaders in making decisions about the design, development, and evaluation of information systems, services, and policies, helping their organizations and communities deal with all aspects of the difficult technology challenges ahead.
  2. IML prepares students anticipating careers as technology specialists to efficiently acquire and maintain superior information modeling skills throughout their careers and to play leadership roles in the design, development, and evaluation of information systems, services, and policies.

Consistent with the goal of producing leaders in information science and not just competent professionals we focus on developing a deep understanding that will have long-term benefits and prepare students to engage the hardest problems facing organizations and society. In order for generalist leaders to make strategic decisions effectively they must have a deep understanding of the critical underlying concepts and principles of modern information management.

This course aims to provide students anticipating generalist roles with that deep understanding. Given the importance and ubiquity of technology decisions, and the generally inadequate advice provided by local technology specialists, successful leadership without this knowledge is unlikely. Of course a single course in information modeling alone cannot fully realize these objectives; it makes a partial contribution, focusing on the principles and concepts of information modeling.


After a unit on logic, which provides a general framework for understanding and evaluating other modeling methods, the course examines the major modeling approaches currently in use in information management: relational modeling, conceptual modeling, XML markup, and ontologies, focusing on underlying concepts and principles. The course is thus simultaneously a foundations course and a survey course. There are several important cross-cutting themes:

The University of Texas at Austin,
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