Acc 681. Analysis & Design of Accounting Systems (Fall, 1998)


Welcome to Acc 681, and to the world of accounting systems. In this course, we will study the analysis, design, development and implementation of accounting systems. The course will be a healthy mix of theoretical, applied, and hands-on materials. We will study the subject-matter through the use of unix operating system with programming in the Java programming language, which is becoming very popular specially in the context of web-based systems.

Since in my opinion the use of fancy graphical User Interfaces (GUI) is a great distraction to understanding the essential systems concepts, the first thing I shall do is to take away from you all user interfaces, including the windows. We will learn systems the old-fashioned way, with the GNU-emacs editor, the javac compiler, developing simple java applications (rather than cute java applets that you have seen on the web). Once you get the hang of java programming, you should be able to develop cute applets on your own easily.

The course is quite fast paced, and it is important that you not fall behind. I can NOT teach accounting systems. You will fully understand accounting systems only when you have designed a real one, how so ever trivial. I can only help you learn how to learn, and to build a toy system.

We will not be studying accounting databases, the topic of another course. Those of you in the second year of the 2-year M.S.A., will study databases in the M.B.A. module this semester. Those in the 1-year M.S.A. with systems emphasis will obviously get database stuff in Acc 682. The rest of the 1-year M.S.As should have had some basic databases in prior education.

This course is quite rigorous, but you should enjoy it unless, of course, you are averse to programming. However, knowledge of the stuff covered in this course should be amply rewarding, considering the preponderance of computerised systems in accounting and the fossilisation of the concept of the auditing profession as traditionally understood. Try to enjoy the course as much as you can, and remember that I am here to help you learn..


Semester: Fall, 1998
Time: T: 5:45 - 8:35 PM
Room: BA 223 (C & L Classroom)
Instructor: Jagdish S. Gangolly
Office: BA 365A
Phone: (518) 442-4949
Fax: (518) 442-3944
Office Hours:
MT 4:45 - 5:45 PM. or by appointment
Instructor Homepage:
Announcements Page:


This will be the only web handout you will get during the semester. All future handouts will be postscript. Therefore it is important that you learn to print postscript documents in the Lab, or, if you have computers at home, to download Ghostscript/Ghostview from and install it so you can print them on non-postscript printers. You will need to download and install Ghostscript interpreter and the fonts from, Ghostview browser from, and the Ghostscript manual in .pdf form from
You can find the directions on downloading and installing ghostscript/ghostview at


Text materials for much of the subject matter covered in this course are freely available on the world wide web. Off and on during the semester I shall provide links to such material. Therefore, if you are resourceful, you should be able to manage with no textbook at all. I will use the textbooks only to provide some structure to the course.


Transaction cycles and structured analysis & design of accounting information systems. Object-Oriented analysis & design of accounting systems with emphasis on internal controls. The course will involve designing & programming of an accounting system using Java programming language.


Introduction to Unix and the language Java. Principles of object-oriented as well as structured systems analysis and design as related to accounting information systems. Specification of information systems and their components: function, structure, data and processes.


This is the only information systems course in the graduate accounting curriculum required of all students in the M.S. Accounting Program, and therefore it is quite comprehensive in coverage. Since most of you will be users or auditors of information systems, the course is geared towards gaining an appreciation and working knowledge of systems development & software construction for accounting. For those in the Accounting Information Systems emphasis in the M.S. Program, this course should provide a solid foundation on which to build the rest of the courses in the curriculum.

By the end of the semester, you should be able to:


The basic texts for this course are

In addition, you may like to refer to the UNIXHandbook (Computing Services Center, SUNY Albany, 1994), if necessary.

For the group project, you will need the following packet of materials. Each group may therefore wish to share a copy.


The course will consist of lectures, solution of problems/cases, programming assignments and a group project where you will write specifications for and design part of an accounting system.

This syllabus, as well as all the handouts, homework assignments, group assignments (if any) and homework solutions in this course will be accessible through the web, mostly in postscript format. When homework is assigned, it will be announced in the class. The due dates will be announced in the appropriate homework file. Late submissions are not acceptable.

You will notice that the course is heavily web based. It will try to exploit the wealth of information available on the web throughout the world. As the semester proceeds, I will anchor a whole host of such resources to these course pages. You are urged to visit those sites. In fact, if you are resourceful enough, you can get by this course without buying any textbook.

You will find that this is a very fast paced course packed with rather quite difficult conceptual material. Besides, any programming based course, of necessity, is time-consuming and requires you to be well-organised. However, all tests/quizzes in this course are open book/notes. A thorough understanding of the material is an absolute necessity to do well in this course. It is therefore important that you keep with the class. Since the lectures are based on the assumption that you have read the reading materials assigned, you will find that attending the classes is a complete waste of time if you have not read them before the class. Should you feel lost, please seek help immediately. It is difficult to discover knowledge the day before a test. I am here to help you learn, and you are most welcome to discuss any difficulties with me any time you can find me in my office.

I will give a few pop quizzes during the semester just to make sure that you are with the class.Pop-quizzes can not be made up.


  • 100 points: Test (November 23, 1998)
  • 100 points: Group Project
  • 0 - 50 points: Pop Quizzes & Home work (5 points per quizz/homework
  • 25 points: Class participation
  • 225 - 275 points: Total
  • TEST:

    The test, which will be open books/notes, will be held on November 23, 1998 during the class time (80 minutes). This test will examine your understanding of object-oriented design, & structured systems analysis & design, as well as java programming language to the extent covered in the class till November 16, 1998. It will not be a multiple choice test, but will involve solution of small cases and problems.


    You should divide into groups of three each. The group project is best accomplished if you carry it out as we learn the various tools & techniques in the class. It can not be accomplished by working round the clock in april. Besides, spreading the project over the semester provides a much better learning environment.

    The group project will consist of drawing specifications and designing a part of a small accounting system described in the packet Systems Understanding Aid. The required information for the project will be made available by September 20, 1998. This part of the course must be undertaken using the Java programming language. The written report must be a web document (ie., it must be a .html file). You will be graded on the basis of the quality of specifications of the accounting system that you design and document.

    Each group must present the project before the class on December 7, 1998. You will have 25 minutes to present the project. A written group project report is also due by December 7, 1998.


    I shall give occasional pop quizzes to test your understanding of the material. Pop quizzes can not be made up. I also may assign home work from time to time. Such home work may be individual or group.Late submissions will not be evaluated. Missed homework also can not be made up.


    I shall occasionally ask you individually questions in the class, and may ask you to do problems on the board. You are strongly encouraged to ask questions in the class.

    I will add up the points you score on the five components in the course and arrange the class in descending order of total points scored. Gaps in that order will form the cut-off points for letter grades, including +/- grades, assigned in the course. The letter grading in the course is therefore strictly relative.


    Jagdish S. Gangolly is currently an Associate Professor of Accounting and of Management Science & Information Systems in the School of Business, and a Senior Program Faculty member of the Ph. D Program in Information Science. He holds a Bachelor's degree with a major in Mathematical Statistics, a master's degree with a major in Operations Research, and a Ph. D degree in Accounting. He is also a Certified Internal Auditor. He has previously taught at the University of Pittsburgh, University of Kansas, Claremont McKenna College & the Claremont Graduate School, and California State University at Fullerton. He has worked in senior executive positions in management services in the pulp & paper industry as well as in soft-drink franchising. His articles have appeared in Journal of Accounting Research, Auditing: Journal of Practice & Theory, Journal of the Operational Research Society, Critical Perspectives on Accounting, Expert Systems with Applications: An International Journal, and Artificial Intelligence in Accounting & Auditing. In 1989, he was the guest editor of Advances in Accounting; currently he serves on the editorial board of the American Accounting Association journal Issues in Accounting Education. His current research activities are primarily in the areas of conceptual information retrieval and formal specification of control in accounting information systems. He also has collateral research interest in the relationships between Accounting and Legal Philosophy.


    NOTE: In the schedule below,

    Browse means that you are expected to skim through the chapters in order to place the main issues there in the themes discussed in the class. You will not be held responsible for mastery of the materials in these chapters.

    Read means that you are expected to have a mastery of the materials in these chapters to the extent discussed in the class. The lectures will be based on the assumption that you have read these materials before the class.You will be tested on these materials.

    Do means that you are expected to do the problems before the class period. You will have problems understanding the lectures if you have not even browsed through these problems.

    Handouts/lecture notes, if any, are anchored to the schedule below. I will be posting these as available. There will be no paper handouts in this course. Therefore it is essential that you very quickly learn to browse, download, and prepare WWW documents.

    [Aug 31] [Sep 7] [Sep 14] [Sept21] [Sep 28] [Oct 5] [Oct 12] [Oct 19] [Oct 26] [Nov 2] [Nov 9] [Nov 16] [Nov 23] [Nov 30] [Dec 7]


  • August 31, 1998. Introduction, Internet, Unix & Emacs.
  • Read: Introduction to Information Systems,
  • Browse: WMP: Ch. 1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 10. Don't be alarmed. By the end of the semester you will have read all of this :)
  • WEEK2.

  • September 7, 1998. Labor Day (NO CLASS)
  • WEEK3.

  • September 14,1998. Introduction to Java
  • Browse: LL: Ch. 1.
  • Read: LL: Ch. 2, 3.
  • Do:LL: Ch. 3- 21, 22, 23, 24.
  • WEEK4.

  • September 21, 1998. No Class
  • WEEK5.

  • September 28, 1998. Float
  • WEEK6.

  • October 5, 1998. Objects and Classes
  • Read: LL: Ch. 4.
  • Do:LL: Ch 4- 18, 21.
  • WEEK7.

  • October 12, 1998. Data Representation, Operators, Control Structures.
  • Read: LL: Ch. 5.
  • DO: LL: Ch. 5- 23, 24.
  • WEEK8.

  • October 19, 1998. Arrays, Vector class, and Strings.
  • Read: LL: Ch. 6, 8.
  • Do: LL: Ch. 6- 26, 27, 30. Ch. 8- 14.
  • WEEK9.

  • October 26, 1998. Abstract Classes & Methods, Interfaces, and Packages.
  • Read: LL: Ch. 9.
  • Do: LL: Ch. 9- 14.
  • WEEK10.

  • November 2, 1998. Object-Oriented Software Development Process.
  • Read: LL: Chapter 11, 15; WB: Ch. 8.
  • WEEK11.

  • November 9, 1998. Structured Systems Analysis & Process Modeling.
  • Read: WB: Ch. 4, 6.
  • WEEK12.

  • November 16, 1998. Network Modeling & Systems Design.
  • Read: WB: Ch. 7, 9
  • WEEK13.

  • November 23, 1998. Application Architecture & Process design, and T E S T
  • Read: WB: Ch. 10.
  • WEEK14.

  • November 30, 1998. Systems Design & Prototyping.
  • Browse: WB: Ch. 12 - 15.
  • WEEK15.

  • December 3, 1998. Group Presentations.

  • Updated by Jagdish S. Gangolly on August 23, 1998.