Screening Exam Questions for Fall 2011

 

Question 1

You have been hired as a database consultant working by a small but growing startup business that focuses on selling refurbished electronics. They want to develop a database that will keep track of their employee information (personal, work-related, pay-related…) for their new Human Resources (HR) department.

1.      Develop an ER model for this database that contains at least 3 entities and two relationships. Make sure the model shows cardinality and connectivity. At least one relationship between entities should define a business rule of the company. Make sure you indicate which one and explain.

2.      Develop the relational model for this ER model. Explain the differences between the ER model and relational model.

3.      Specify (using pseudo-code or code) a trigger, a stored procedure or a database constraint that enforces the business rule defined in your ER model.

 

Question 2

“In February 2001, 17 software developers met at the Snowbird, Utah resort, to discuss lightweight development methods. They published the Manifesto for Agile Software Development to define the approach now known as agile software development.” [1]  In the ten years since this event, agile software development has become one of the most important approaches to producing software.

 

1.      “A manifesto is a public declaration of principles and intentions, often political in nature.” [2]  With this in mind, what does the Manifesto for Agile Software Development declare, in terms of values, strategies, practices, etc.?

2.      Describe in detail the agile approach to software development, clearly explaining what differentiates it from other approaches to software development. Be sure to describe clearly how matters such as estimation, planning, testing, and project management are incorporated into agile.  (It is a good idea to make reference to a specific version of agile, such as XP, if you can.)

 

Question 3

1.      Compare and contrast between twisted-pair copper wire, fiber optic and unguided free-space as transmission medium for telecommunications.

 

2.      Explain the two principle school of thoughts when it comes to providing Quality-of-Service (QoS) on the Internet. Which idea do you think scales well?

 

3.      4G services are currently being rolled out. 4G is supposed to provide 10 times higher speeds than 3G at least in theory. However, 3G and 4G refer to the communication protocol between the mobile handset and the cell phone tower. So it's only one piece of the puzzle. The throughput rate and browsing speed also depend upon other factors. Can you explain what such factors are that decides the ultimate speed you get on your mobile handset?

 

Question 4

Considering the content of the “Attachment for Questions 4 and 5,” and from the perspective of the Advisor to the National Intelligence Director, write a brief report, describing the technological, organizational and managerial challenges involved in making the shift to a less-boundaries intelligence community.

 

Your report should be based on the need of sharing information and creating a culture of integration across agencies.  Your report should aim to make IT across agencies more aligned, and to create and sustain effectiveness by harmonizing among many components.

 

In your report, include your insight regarding the IT management strategic actions that we have to undertake in order enable the IT within the many intelligence agencies to act as "one company", by taking the existing IT structures and creating a new one that meets the expanding goals of the 9-11 commission report.

 

Question 5

Considering the content of the “Attachment for Questions 4 and 5,” choose four out of the six themes in the following list and use them to analyze the 9-11 case, based on the relevant IT Management academic theories and frameworks: 

1.      Anticipate, adapt, and act on changes over time.

2.      Utilize early investments to meet new challenges.

3.      Unite resources to achieve as many different objectives as possible.

4.      Transform the architecture from a tightly-coupled architecture to a loosely-coupled one.

5.      Get down to the details about the data, using design and governance mechanisms such as the data dictionary and MDM Master Data Management.

6.      Extend standardization among participants.

 

Question 6

Two approaches to conducting research have long vied for dominance in the academic IS&T discipline: quantitative and qualitative.  The quantitative paradigm has been closely linked with the positivist (lately, post-positivist) perspective on science.  The qualitative approach has been associated with social constructivism (aka, interpretivism).  Recently, a pragmatic approach has become popular.  Pragmatism is sometimes, although not always, associated with a realist view of science.

 

1.      Define, compare, and contrast the quantitative and qualitative approaches to research. 

2.      Define, compare, and contrast positivism (not post-positivism) and social constructivism.

3.      Define the pragmatic approach to research, and compare and contrast it with quantitative and qualitative research.

4.      Define the realist view of science, and compare and contrast it with the positivist and social constructivist perspectives.

5.      Where, if at all, does design science fit with these ideas?

 

Attachment

Please read carefully the following paragraphs from the 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT, Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, Published in September 20, 2004

 

At 8:46am on the morning of September 11, 2001, the United States became a nation transformed. An airliner traveling at hundreds of miles per hour and carrying some 10,000 gallons of jet fuel plowed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan. At 9:03am, a second airliner hit the South Tower. Fire and smoke billowed upward. Steel, glass, ash, and bodies fell below. The Twin Towers, where up to 50,000 people worked each day, both collapsed less than 90 minutes later. At 9:37am that same morning, a third airliner slammed into the western face of the Pentagon. At 10:03am, a fourth airliner crashed in a field in southern Pennsylvania. It had been aimed at the United States Capitol or the White House, and was forced down by heroic passengers armed with the knowledge that America was under attack. More than 2,600 people died at the World Trade Center; 125 died at the Pentagon; 256 died on the four planes. The death toll surpassed that at Pearl Harbor in December 1941.

The 9/11 attacks were a shock, but they should not have come as a surprise. How did the U.S. government fail to anticipate and prevent it? What can we do in the future to prevent similar acts of terrorism?

Unity of Effort

The 9/11 story teaches the value of integrating strategic intelligence from all sources into joint operational planning.

National intelligence is still organized around the collection disciplines of the home agencies, not the joint mission. We propose a National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) which would build on the existing Terrorist Threat Integration Center and would replace it and other terrorism “fusion centers” within the government. The NCTC would become the authoritative knowledge bank, bringing information to bear on common plans. It should task collection requirements both inside and outside the United States.

The importance of an integrated, all source analysis cannot be overstated. Without it, it is not possible to “connect the dots.” No one component holds all the relevant information. A “smart” government would integrate all sources of information to see the enemy as a whole. Integrated all-source analysis should also inform and shape strategies to collect more intelligence.

Information Sharing

Much of the public commentary about the 9/11 attacks has focused on “lost opportunities.” Though characterized as problems of “watch-listing,” “information sharing,” or “connecting the dots,” each of these labels is too narrow. They describe the symptoms, not the disease.

We have already stressed the importance of intelligence analysis that can draw on all relevant sources of information. The biggest impediment to all-source analysis—to a greater likelihood of connecting the dots—is the human or systemic resistance to sharing information.

The security concerns need to be weighed against the costs. Current security requirements nurture over classification and excessive compartmentation of information among agencies. There are no punishments for not sharing information. Agencies uphold a “need-to-know” culture of information protection rather than promoting a “need-to-share” culture of integration. The U.S. government has access to a vast amount of information. But it has a weak system for processing and using what it has. The system of “need to know” should be replaced by a system of “need to share.”

Information procedures should provide incentives for sharing, to restore a better balance between security and shared knowledge. We propose that information be shared horizontally, across new networks that transcend individual agencies. The current system is structured on an old mainframe, or hub-and-spoke, concept. In this older approach, each agency has its own database. Agency users send information to the database and then can retrieve it from the database.

A decentralized network model, the concept behind much of the information revolution, shares data horizontally too. Agencies would still have their own databases, but those databases would be searchable across agency lines. In this system, secrets are protected through the design of the network and an “information rights management” approach that controls access to the data, not access to the whole network.

The president should lead the government-wide effort to bring the major national security institutions into the information revolution, across agencies to create a “trusted information network.”  No one agency can do it alone. Well-meaning agency officials are under tremendous pressure to update their systems. Alone, they may only be able to modernize the stovepipes, not replace them.

Only presidential leadership can develop government-wide concepts and standards. Currently, no one is doing this job. Backed by the Office of Management and Budget, a new National Intelligence Director empowered to set common standards for information use throughout the community, and a secretary of homeland security who helps extend the system to public agencies and relevant private-sector databases, a government-wide initiative can succeed.

When information sharing works, it is a powerful tool.

 



[1] Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agile_software_development#Agile_Manifesto, accessed September 27, 2011.

[2] Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manifesto, accessed September 27, 2011.