Big Data Sets

One of the things about teaching Computer Studies is having data sets for students to run with their program to get the types of results that you should.  During program development, I always found that it was desirable to talk to the students about how to create their own data sets to meet the specifications of the program.  It shows that they can read and understand what is needed and generating data that allow them to work through a problem manually and compare their results to what is generated by their program is a great technique to master.

Of course, when it comes to testing the accurateness of their program, you want to have your own data sets.  I would make it available as a file that they would read and present the results.  Since I know what the results should look like, it’s a quick and easy way to test their programming skills.  It’s also handy to have a couple of data sets to completely test the program and also to check if the student requires multiple runs in order to get it right.

Sometimes, generating these test data sets can be a real chore in themselves.  Not so, if you use  Using this  utility, data sets can be generated so quickly.

From a menu, it’s a matter of selecting just what types of fields that you need for your file.  With a wide variety of choices, I think you’ll find this very functional.

Keep reading, and I’ll show you how easy it is to create a mailing database.  In the Column Title, generate a meaningful title for the field and then pick the data type from the pull down menu.  In this case, I really appreciate the Canadianization of the data – I can specify Postal Codes instead of Zip Codes and the abbreviation for the provinces.

Note the options for output of your file.  I would suspect that CSV and SQL would be most popular but you’ve also got options for HTML, Excel, and XML.  If you require additional rows for your data set, just add them.  When you’re good to go, click “Generate” to get your results!

Your data is good to go.  Save it and you’re ready to mark.  I would suggest running a few versions so that you have a choice of datasets with those parameters.  It only takes seconds.

The website will generate datasets of 200 records.  If you like what you see, the script is downloadable for installation on your own server.  For a small donation, you could get into the realm of big data and create a dataset of 5000 records.

What could be easier?  If you’re a Computer Studies teacher, do yourself a favour and bookmark this one today.

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