Description | Lectures | References | Final Projects


Electronic commerce, commonly called eCommerce, is traditionally defined as the buying and selling of goods using electronic transaction processing technologies. Over the past twenty (20) years these approaches have gone through a cycle that has extolled great promise, then bitter disappointments only to be followed lately by a substantial rebound and growth to respectability and now dominance.

With the world having rebound from the 2008 economic downturn and now possibly facing a plateau / inflection point, (Apple iPhone Sales are as strong as ever), the efficiency, scope and reach of eCommerce continues to hang on there

Moreover, eCommerce continues to evolve both technologically and in the scope of its market reach. Technologically, desktop and laptop/notebook computers have been the dominant client/user-side technology with the server-side being either dedicated boxes owned/managed by the eCommerce entity (e.g. the entity providing the goods/services) or an intermediate entity providing "cloud computing" resources shared by many eCommerce companies.

More recently, Apple, Samsun, Amazon and a host of others have evolved this paradigm by creating an environment by which mobile devices such as an iPhone, iPad, Android-based smartPhones, a host of Tablets (that cost as little as $40.), and (Heaven Forbid!) wareables glasses , Google CardBoard, and HoloLens have emerged as the everywhere/everytime client-side technologies.

The extreme portability, mobility and place-aware nature of these devices is transforming and exploding the fundamental character of the eCommerce environment. Enabled is on-the-go eCommerce that is place- and time-aware now, has remembered the past and continually makes intelligent expectations about the future.

The scope of the eCommerce market has also evolved beyond the narrow buying and selling of goods to include services of all kinds including entertainment, communications and transportation/mobility that is making eCommerce an integral part of everyone's daily life. It is these fundamental daily personal services provided by the extended scope of eCommerce that have the opportunity to substantially enhance the quality-of-daily life of "all" "consumers" and "all" quality-of -life "providers".

Interestingly, eCommerce and its fundamental ability to correlate information at essentially zero cost so that the provider enables the consumer to not only find the "needle" in the hay stack but also the "thread" and assembles them in an environment so that it is trivial and inexpensive for the "button to be sowed". It is this mobile eCommerce space, that is the creation of an enhanced environment while on-the-go, that is of greatest interest to me.

One travels to enhance one's time and place utility. Today, the world spends roughly $10T for that utility enhancement.

Technology and eCommerce are evolving to completely disrupt how and the extent to which that utility enhancement is going to be delivered to society.

Traditionally mobility services have required the expenditures of money, displeasure and wasted time all while wreaking havoc on the environment.

Automated technology and mobile eCommerce can substantially enhance all elements by enabling a better use of the time, bringing enhanced entertainment and information to alleviate displeasure, allowing the mode of transport to operate more efficiently, thus saving money while being more environmentally responsible. These combine to make it "affordable" in terms of money, pleasure, time and negative externalities to experience a broader array of destinations that otherwise would not have a place and time utility enhancement that would justify the traditional investment in money, displeasure and time. Such improvements open up vast new markets.

In this course we will study

1. the basics fundamentals of the business and economic motivations for eCommerce as well as the needs and desires of individuals,

2. the underlying computation, information and communication environments that encompass and enable eCommerce transactions, and

3. the evolving role of new highly portable, place-aware, always-with-you personal devices in eCommerce.

We will focus exclusively on those electronic and process technologies that allow for transactions to be conducted with little or no human intervention on the part of the buyer/consumer or the seller/provider. We will characterize the value proposition afforded by such transactions. Initially we will focus on traditional stationary transactions using "wired" connections; however, we will quickly evolve to focus on transactions that are made while on-the-go that, out of necessity, use 2-way wireless communication. This leads us to look into Navigation-based Commerce (nCommerce) and Navigation-based Entertainment (nTertainment or TravelTainment)and even delve into Smart Driving Cars that may allow everyone to more fully enjoy the process of getting there. And there might even be a business case associated with focusing on this sector. Hyundai seems to thinks so since they focused their 2014 Super Bowl 30 seconds on one aspect as does Chunka Mui and MB with two full-page ads in the NYT. We will look at the role and opportunity of extremely mobile, place aware, communications and computing enabled devices such as smartPhones (iPhone, Android, WinMobile (?), RIM (??)etc.), and smartPads (iPads, and the plethora of Android tablets), wearables (watches and glasses (or are they simply too goofy??)) and Android - the open handset alliance.

A central element that has fueled this nCommerce and nTertainment revolution is a substantially new intermediaries in the eCommerce equation, "App Stores" and "Ubers". While seemingly very different they are really fundamentally the same basic paradigm that is very much in its infancy. They both have fundamentally created an eCommerce environment by which those that are capable and intrinsically motivated to provide a service are empowered to focus all of their attention on the provision of that service while all of the "overhead" necessary to efficiently and effectively manage, market, sell and deliver that service is done efficiently and effectively by these new eCommerce enterprises. Think about it! "Coders" develop Apps, "AppStores" do everything else and "Cash" appears in the "Coder's " account. "Drivers" drive and "Ubers" do everything else and "Cash" appears in the Driver's account. Everybody's a "Happy Camper". (Even though both coders and drivers may "on average" be making "less than minimum wage". Who cares...coders and drivers are getting to do what they want to do when they want to do it. What a great country!

We will attempt to characterize this "App-fication" (aka "Verification") , analyze it and try to understand how these technologies can enhance everyone's daily life as well as create opportunities for those that wish to focus on "doing their own thing (or doing what they do best, or ...).

The last third and most important part of the course focuses on the design and construction of eCommerce and nCommerce applications in the following areas:

Nominal homework assignments revolve around the design, construction and evaluation of a traditional eCommerce site. Through a series of assignments, the first part of the course will focus on a generic example. In the past we have we focused on the rental of DVDs for viewing on airplanes (now a very old concept, but one that became NetFlix.) What a shame we didn't pursue it seriously because we could have become "NetFlix" before "NetFlix". Last year we switch to creating a ride-sharing site called HandyRides for which we have the URL The focus is the creation of a plug-in that would be really used by anyone who is putting together an event. Since any event involves folks coming from many place to one place at about the same time and the reverse, there is an enormous opportunity to share rides, if only there was a "plug-in" that would "make it happen". That's what we'll all be doing in the first part.

The second part of the course will be team project-oriented. It will focus on developing a more substantive student-motivated eCommerce initiative. In place of a final exam, the team Projects will be presented, at a course symposium to be held at the end of reading period. Popular Background readings are:

Zero to One: Notes on Startups by Peter Thiel

Killer Apps by Chunka Mui and Paul Carrol

Thinking Fast & Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Description | Lectures | References | Assignments | Final Projects


Part I. Introduction

Date Title Reading Notes
2/6 Overview of eCommerce, Enrolled Students ; Your Availabilityfor Precept Zero to One: Notes on Startups by Peter Thiel & Moovel InterestingLinks_2/6/17; eCommerce Company Assignment
2/8 Perspectives on eCommerce Laudon Ch 3 or Deitel 3; The Internet and the World Wide Web , InterestingLinks_2/08/17,

Part II. Software Technologies and Case Studies of eCommerce

PHP v Python as client-side interpreted, high level languages with dynamic typing <
Date Title Reading Notes
2/13 HTTP Servers, Basic Client-Server Example, Server-side Data and Transaction Processing; eBusiness Models: Handout2 ; Bessemers Top 10 Laws of E-Commerce; How Search Works; html5 Tutorial; Basic background: Laudon Ch 2 or Deitel Ch 3 and Dietel 10.6-10.7, 29.1, 29.3-29.6 eBusiness Notes; Access to cPanel; Interesting Links_2/13/17
2/13 Precept Preparation for Lab 1;Plus: JAVA, PHP and cPanel, Hall 16.2-16.5,17.4, 18.1-18.6 (JAVA Related) ; HTML5 Reference, PHP Tutorial, cPanel User Guide, Python Tutorial,and Quick HTML Reference Lab 1: Server-Side Processing with HTTP - Part I
2/15 Client-Side Processing. Example: Handout3 JavaScript Tutorial ; Hall Ch19.1 - 19.6 JavaScript Notes 2/15/17; InterestingLinks_2/15/17
2/20 Cookies; Handout4 ;& Intro to CSS and Beyond HTML:XML Cookie Tutorial; Cookies & PHP;& CSS Tutorial, InterestingLinks_2/20/17, Cookies Notes 2/20/17
2/20 Precept Lab 2: Server-Side Processing with HTTP - Part II
2/22 Special Seminar: Solomon Abiola'13, Grad Student, Rochester U. "Re-Defining the Health Ecosystem: From Health Lab to Health Startup"; InterestingLinks_2/22/17 Discussion of Un Met Needs HW2 Assignment
2/27, Special Seminar: Spencer Lucian'08,VP, Operations and Business Intelligence, "Using the Internets to: Make Hay When the Sun Shines; Else, Preparation." InterestingLinks_2/27
2/27 PreceptsInitial discussion of Lab 3: Client-Side Processing with HTTP
3/1 Special Seminar: Robert Moore'06 , Founder & CEO RJMetrics "Creating an eCommerce company from scratch and then selling it: An Investor and Entrepreneur's Perspective" Discussion of Un Met Needs HW2 Assignment & InterestingLinks_03/01/17
3/6, Introduction to XML; handoutNvML XML Tutorial InterestingLinks_2/20/17, XML Notes 2/20/17
Precepts 3/6 Lab 3: Client-Side Processing with HTTP Cookie Tutorial
3/8, Special Seminar: Larry Reich, Technology & Consumer Electronics Guru "Future of the iPhone,iPad,Android and other mobile eCommerce technologies" InterestingLinks_3/08/17
3/13 WebGL Learning WebGL WebGL Notes 3/13 InterestingLinks_3/13/17
Precepts 3/13 Mid-term Week: Precept Canceled; However, Think about who you'll work with on... HW3: Final Project - Preliminary Proposal Due 3/27
3/15 Final Projects Due 3/27 HW3: Final Project - Preliminary Proposal , , InterestingLinks_3/9/16 Keppler Image Gallery
3/19 - 25 Midterm Break Work on Designing Your Final Project While on the Beach
3/27 Special Seminar: Troy Ewnachyna'94, VP Business Development and Digital Strategy, NBC Sports & Olympics "Beyond Streaming SuperBowl LVIX, Lessons Learned",
3/30 (rescheduled) Precept: Final Project StoryBoard Presentations; Please come prepared to present what you turned in on Monday, March 27 Current Partners , StoryBoardLineUp
3/29 Beyond HTTP: TCP/IP and Socket Communications Handout6 TCP/IP Tutorial TCP/IP IBM Book Lab 5: Beyond HTTP, InterestingLinks_3/29/17, Notes 3/29
4/3 Special Seminar: Rob Hill'84 President, Americon Consulting "Internet Auctions: Game Theory and (Ir)rational Behavior" Auction Reference Links; Auction-Theory Notes InterestingLinks_4/3/17
4/5 Special Seminar: Ben Baldanza, recent CEO, Spirit Airlines US Airline Industry Today InterestingLinks_4/05/17
4/10 Precept:Beyond HTTP: TCP/IP and Socket Communications, Continued (Mark M. Handout6 TCP/IP Tutorial TCP/IP IBM Book Lab 5: Beyond HTTP, Notes 4/10

Part III. Operational Considerations and Case Studies

Date Title Reading Notes
4/12 Capacity Analysis Note: Lab 6 capacity Issues Due 4/23 InterestingLinks_4/12, Capacity Notes 4/12
4/17 Internet Pricing Internet Pricing Notes 4/17 InterestingLinks_4/17
4/17 Precept: Independent work on Final Project work on your own... I'll be in my office to answer any questions
4/19 Special Seminar: Steve Papa'94, Founder and former CEO Endeca "Luck Favors the Prepared", InterestingLinks_4/19
4/24 Lab 6 (PS 1): Capacity: Issues and Analysis And finish up Lab 5 if you haven't done so already InterestingLinks_4/24/17
4/26 In-class Progress reports on Final Projects Beyond Storyboards with code and substantive business cases InterestingLinks_4/26/17
5/1 Review for Exam two-sided 8.5x11 cheat sheet InterestingLinks_5/01/17, Excellent Survey Paper on Computer Vision & SmartDrivingCars
5/3 "12th Week Exam" Closed everything; two-sided 8.5x11 cheat sheet InterestingLinks_5/03/17

Note: This schedule is tentative and may change during the course of the semester.

Description | Lectures | References | Assignments | Final Projects

Standard Reference Textbooks and Readings

Additional readings will also be handed-out from time to time. Your are responsible for completing the readings prior to the first day that they will be discussed in class.


Description | Lectures | References | Assignments | Final Projects

You must complete the following assignments during the course of the semester:

Description Due
Lab 1: Server-Side Processing with HTTP - Part I 2/16
Lab 2: Server-Side Processing with HTTP - Part II 2/23
Lab 3: Client-Side Processing with HTTP 3/10, This is a HARD deadline
Lab 4: Client-Side Processing with HTTP - Part II Merged with Lab3 above
Lab 5: Beyond HTTP 4/23
Lab 6 (PS 1): Capacity: Issues and Analysis 5/01

Final Project

Description | Lectures | References | Assignments | Final Projects

A Final Project Symposium will be held on Friday, May 12 at 9:00am in Room 101 ORFE. Each group has only 20 minutes for their presentation including: setup time (have everything ready), presentation (15 minutes MAX), and discussion (3 minutes). Attendance will be taken. You will need to sign in and out.

The written element of the Final Projects are due the following Monday 5/15. (Examples from the 2008 final projects).

Virtual investments by the class of 2013 at the beginning in the semester of eCommerce companies was less than spectacular. Class gains were 2.75% while the S&P gained 4.2% . If everyone would have simply bought the average gain would have been 9.11%! Biggest winners were Kyle O'Donovan and Brian Berkowitz (34.25%, 32.53%). Biggest losers were Chetan Narain and Steve Chen/Dao Mi (-20.96% and -18.21%) Tabulated results

After the presentations, we will have a class PICNIC on Friday May 12, (4pm-7pm) @ 42 Cleveland Lane. Swimming may be available (if the price of gas ia cheap enough to heat the water.). Hopefully at worse we can shoot pool (but I've never played pool before :-( ) You are welcome to bring a guest.


Grades will be based on your performance on problem sets and labs (30%), a "11th week" exam (30%), the final project (30%) and 10% class participation.