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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Only for those who want to master the database
Finally, a book has come along that is not a simple restating of the manual. This is not a book that will tell you how to install a database or how to write RMAN scripts.

This book deconstructs all of what it is to be a database. This book is like a vivsection on the "brain" of an RDBMS (specifically, but not exclusively, Oracle).

Why this book...
Published on September 3, 2007 by D. Reynolds

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51 of 55 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Formal Database Specification
Writing a book is no easy task. Completing a book when your co-author and friend passes away early in the process, must be a monumental task, this is what Toon Koppelaars achieved with this work.

I ordered this book expecting it to contain examples of using statistics, probability and data mining algorithms as applied to databases. In retrospect, I am not sure...
Published on September 2, 2007 by Mitchell Wheat


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51 of 55 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Formal Database Specification, September 2, 2007
This review is from: Applied Mathematics for Database Professionals (Expert's Voice) (Hardcover)
Writing a book is no easy task. Completing a book when your co-author and friend passes away early in the process, must be a monumental task, this is what Toon Koppelaars achieved with this work.

I ordered this book expecting it to contain examples of using statistics, probability and data mining algorithms as applied to databases. In retrospect, I am not sure why I made that assumption. It is actually about formally specifying database designs using logic and set theory. This book is reviewed and endorsed by C. J. Date and features a foreword by him, which would be high praise for any book on the subject of databases.

It is split into 3 parts and 12 chapters as follows:
1. Logic: Introduction
2. Set Theory: Introduction
3. Some More Logic
4. Relations and Functions
5. Tables and Database States
6. Tuple, Table, and Database Predicates
7. Specifying Database Designs
8. Specifying State Transition Constraints
9. Data Retrieval
10. Data Manipulation
11. Implementing Database Designs in Oracle
12. Summary and Conclusions

If you've studied mathematics (or a tertiary subject with a mathematics element to it) you will most probably be familiar with the sections on set theory and logic. If you have not then they provide an as excellent introduction to these topics that you are likely to find anywhere.

This book makes the following claims and I have made my comments against each one:

"This book will help you":
* "Become a better database designer. You'll make fewer mistakes, and your designs will be more flexible in response to changing data needs." I agree 100% that having a good, if not intuitive, grasp of logic and basic set theory will help you to create better DB schemas.
* "Use the expressive power of mathematics to precisely specify designs and business rules." I am not sure how useful this is, and I have a mathematics background. I personally feel that having another notation to express the database design seems to break the DRY (Don't Repeat Yourself) principle.
* "Communicate effectively about design using the universal language of mathematics." Personally, I do not think this applies unless you are at the top of your game and/or have a theoretical bias and you are communicating with someone similar.
* "Develop and write complex SQL statements with confidence." Absolutely agree. I am often surprised at the number of software developers that do not have a thorough grasp of logic.
* "Avoid pitfalls and problems from common relational bugaboos such as null values and duplicate rows". Probably, but then 3NF will go a long way to achieving that.
I would be the first to agree that a good, basic mathematics grounding is desirable if you want to confidently design databases that scale well and are modelled correctly.
The mathematics that you learn in this book will certainly put you above the level of understanding of most database professionals. But I am not convinced that alone will enable you to better understand the technology and be able to apply it more effectively. It will help you to avoid data anomalies like redundancy and inconsistency, which are not uncommon problems in the world of databases!
On the whole, I enjoyed reading this book, but I'm not sure if I learnt anything I could immediately put to use when designing and refactoring databases. I did not put a great deal of effort into learning and understanding the formal database specification language described in this book purely because I could not see an immediate benefit when balanced against the effort required to learn a new notation, and I may well have overlooked something crucial that would indeed enable me to create better database designs.

[...]

Disclosure: The Perth .NET User Group is a member of the Apress User Group Program. Apress make copies of their books available for user group libraries, and the copy reviewed here was kindly donated by them.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Only for those who want to master the database, September 3, 2007
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This review is from: Applied Mathematics for Database Professionals (Expert's Voice) (Hardcover)
Finally, a book has come along that is not a simple restating of the manual. This is not a book that will tell you how to install a database or how to write RMAN scripts.

This book deconstructs all of what it is to be a database. This book is like a vivsection on the "brain" of an RDBMS (specifically, but not exclusively, Oracle).

Why this book succeeds is because it walks you, step-by-step, through the simple (yes simple) and well defined (yes, you don't really have to guess) logic that the database uses for EVERY request made of it.

It is a must-have for anyone serious about truly understanding why databases work the way they do. Have you sat in any of those meetings where people guessed or even voted on how they thought the database worked? It's so silly.

This book will not help you get certified with any database. Certifications are vendor specific and cover a lot more than the narrow focus of this book. So you'll be disappointed if you expect a broad database education.

The narrow focus of this book is laying out the internal rules of the database's "thought process." If you understand the power of that narrow focus, this book is for you. If not, keep it on your wish list and I'll bet you'll come back to it someday.

I have made this book mandatory reading for my Oracle and SQL Server DBA's (the only databases I currently have DBA's for).

While it is in no way a complete database education, I think no database education can be complete without it.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Valuable Volume on the Relational Model, December 19, 2007
This review is from: Applied Mathematics for Database Professionals (Expert's Voice) (Hardcover)
This book from Lex de Haan (RIP) and Toon Koppelaars is a very welcome addition to those relatively few technical volumes to date that attempt to apply the rigours of a sound theoretical mathematical framework to the Relational Model, and the varied and various manifestations thereof.

This well written and well structured book takes the reader gently through rudimentary relations and sets in Part I, to the more complex database-related aspects in Part II, and finally culminating in Part III where the theoretical is applied to the practical - in this case through Oracle, but will equally apply to any of the major Database Management System (DBMS) vendors.

Although the reader is taken `gently' through the learning process, I believe that any experience in Formal System Specification would be a great help to the reader, similarly with any degree of knowledge of relations and sets. With no knowledge of either of these then the curve may not be so `gentle', but what can be assured, however, is that the exercises are well enough designed to bring the knowledge levels up appropriately as the book progresses.

Conversely, what probably isn't of great assistance is a high degree of proficiency with SQL, with its manifold attendant shortcomings and deficiencies. The difficulty here arises where the reader will tend to approach it logically from an SQL perspective (with the perhaps now instinctive mental workarounds), where this book approaches from a much more logically complete, theoretically sound, and neutral angle.

That said, however, there is much of value in this book for the seasoned SQL practitioner, if only to alert as to how incomplete the current DBMS offerings are, how this (potentially) compromises data integrity on several levels (tuple, table, database), how to avoid those same shortcomings, and on how to exploit the maximum declarative constraining from those same DBMSes in their current incarnations. For the not so seasoned, it will lay a solid, sound theoretical basis that will serve very well throughout a career with databases.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Uber-technical? Yes, but should be required reading for anyone writing SQL, March 20, 2008
This review is from: Applied Mathematics for Database Professionals (Expert's Voice) (Hardcover)
This book definitely isn't for those who dabble in writing SQL code. However, if your job requires interacting with SQL, that is, set-based language, this book should be on your shelf. It certainly is on mine.

You won't find any simple list of instructions, or pithy "best practices", but more a fairly complete explanation of set-based mathematics and logic, and how this applies to the SQL (generic SQL) language. There's also an excellent discussion of 3 and 4 state logic and the universally misunderstood concept of NULL.

I can't recommend the book enough. It may take you years to really work through it and absorb the content, but it is worth it if databases are your career.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No easy read, but well worth it, May 17, 2008
This review is from: Applied Mathematics for Database Professionals (Expert's Voice) (Hardcover)
This book is no easy read. Yet, or even because of this fact, it is unrestrictedly recommendable for everyone who professionally deals with databases. It offers a thorough introduction into the basic mathematics on which the relational database model is based. The committed reader is put into the position to base his database design on a well founded level and effectively describe and communicate design questions and business rules.

In any case should the reader take his time to work his way through the whole book. It is well worth it!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for any DB professional, July 19, 2011
This review is from: Applied Mathematics for Database Professionals (Expert's Voice) (Hardcover)
I think the title of this review says it all. I recently graduated from college with a B.S. in Computer Science. Part of the requirements of the program was an introductory Symbolic Logic course. While difficult, it ended up being quite a bit of fun. Then I stumbled across this book and decided to give it a read. WOW! If you took discrete mathematics and/or symbolic logic and perhaps even a database course in college and didn't understand why you needed to take those courses, this book couldn't connect the dots more clearly for you. I think this book should be required reading.

Having said all of that, fast forward 2 weeks after reading this book. I'm working on a project where I discovered a database design we were using was inconsistent. Using my symbolic logic background from college I formally proved the inconsistencies of the design; and using knowledge from this book, redesigned the database--which ended up being simpler, smaller, and met the requirements for the project.

I can't praise this book and its concepts enough. By the way, the project I was working on uses MS SQL Server while the book uses Oracle (generically, and barely at all, since you're not learing about a DBMS, but about how to properly design a database using sound mathematical principles); I did not find this to be a problem, so don't let the fact that the author uses Oracle in his examples make you shy away from this book. It is applicable to ANY RDBMS. The examples mostly use trivial CRUD statements and some CHECK constraints and TRIGGERs here and there to help enforce data integrity.
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Applied Mathematics for Database Professionals (Expert's Voice)
Applied Mathematics for Database Professionals (Expert's Voice) by Lex de Haan (Hardcover - June 18, 2007)
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