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Database Design and Relational Theory: Normal Forms and All That Jazz (Theory in Practice) Paperback – April 27, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-1449328016 ISBN-10: 1449328016 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Series: Theory in Practice
  • Paperback: 278 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (April 27, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1449328016
  • ISBN-13: 978-1449328016
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 7 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,456 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

C.J. Date has a stature that is unique within the database industry. C.J. is a prolific writer, and is well-known for his best-selling textbook: An Introduction to Database Systems (Addison Wesley). C.J. is an exceptionally clear-thinking writer who can lay out principles and theory in a way easily understood by his audience.


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Customer Reviews

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Chris Date and Dr. Codd formed a consultancy to educate the world.
Amazon Customer
I think that after reading this book I have a much better grasp on normalization when it comes to creating my own database.
J. W. Rine
I recommend this work to anyone who is required to architect database solutions, especially complex ones.
B. Miller

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 3, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
You ought to know who Chris Date is. Return with me now to those thrilling days of yesteryear (the late 1970's, early 1980's) when RDBMS has just been created by Dr. E. F. Codd. The problem was that Dr. Codd was a mathematician whose earlier work was with self-reproducing cellular automata. He wrote and thought like a mathematician, not a programmer. His notation was abstract and mathematical. He used standard set operators for Union, Intersect, Set Difference, membership and so forth. Projections (SELECT in SQL) was shown with a letter pi (ð) with subscript parameters, the selection (FROM in SQL) was shown with a letter sigma (ó) with subscript parameters and he invented the butterfly or bow ties for joins. In short, nobody could read it unless they were a math major. We did a lot of work with this notation and if you like curling up with a glass of sherry and a warm calculus book, the best mathematical book on RDBMS is still Theory of Relational Databases by David Maier (Mar 1983, ISBN: 978-0914894421).

But the real problem was not that the early papers were academic. When the first SQL products came out, RDBMS was like pre-teen sex. Everyone claimed that they knew what it was and that they were good at it. Yeah. Right. Chris Date and Dr. Codd formed a consultancy to educate the world. Dr. Codd was the brains and the big name; Chris Date was the "Great Explainer" who wrote magazine articles and gave lectures. People could understand Chris Date! His INTRODUCTION TO DATABASES was a standard college textbook in the early days of RDBMS. His collections of columns in DBMS and DATABASE PROGRAMMING & DESIGN should be part of any RDBMS library.

Date has since written a lot of books on databases for many different publishers.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Alexei Lebedev on September 6, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mr. Date has a wandering style of presentation that I find impossible to follow. Most statements either state that an earlier definition was not strictly speaking, correct, or a promise to say more on the subject in another chapter. Every sentence has parenthetical asides or begins with decorations such as "Note, carefully, however"; "Now, we might say, very loosely, that..."; "However there is a significant difference also."; "In order to understand this state of affairs a little better, it's helpful to go back to..."; "As an aside, I note that the foregoing discussion goes a long way toward..." etc. etc. etc. Every definition is "preliminary",

Some examples:

Exercise 2.1 is "What's the Information Principle?" -- a seemingly important question. The information principle is not discussed in chapter 2 at all. The answer in given in Appendix D: "The Information Principle is a fundamental principle that underpins the entire relational model." Shouldn't perhaps Chapter 1 begin with this definition?

Here is a paragraph from Chapter 3 whose only purpose seems to be to reference a concept from Chapter 1 and delegate it to Chapter 15:

"In chapter 1, I said design theory is largely about reducing redundancy, and I've referred to the concept repeatedly in the present chapter; in particular, I've said the higher the level of normalization, the more redundancy is prevented. But coming up with a precise definition of redundancy seems to be quite difficult -- much more so, in fact, than I think is appropriate for this early point in the book. For that reason, I'm not even going to try to define it here; I'm just going to assume until further notice that we can at least recognize it when we see it (though even that's a pretty big assumption, actually). Chapter 15 examines the concept in depth".

I learned more from Codd 1970 paper and wikipedia article on normal forms.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By J. W. Rine on July 3, 2012
Format: Paperback
C. J. Date is an independent author, lecturer, researcher, and consultant specializing in relational database theory. My introduction to his work came while I studied the Php/SQL course series online via the O'Reilly School of Technology. I received a copy of Database in Depth: Relational Theory for Practitioners, ISBN 0-596-10012-4, to accompany the online coursework. A couple of chapters into Database Design and Relational Theory I stopped and read again the aforementioned Database In Depth as a refresher.

Database Design and Relational Theory: Normal Forms and All That Jazz is about the logical design of a database as it relates to the relational data model. It's about the theory of the relational model and the accompanying algebra. These concepts are separated from physical design as physical design relates to how a particular logical design will map to actual physical storage.

The book is written for an audience accustomed to the terminology and concepts of the relational model. Definitions are introduced moving from the informal to the formal. Throughout the book the discussion involves relations, relvars, tuples, functional dependencies, join dependencies and various algebraic operators. If all this seems foreign, then I would suggest another text to be read as prerequisite to this book. Admittedly, I do not have a background in computer science or mathematics. I found the material difficult at times but not overly so. I think that after reading this book I have a much better grasp on normalization when it comes to creating my own database.

I would recommend this book to those readers with a desire to learn about relational design theory. It is product agnostic with mentions of SQL limited to instances where SQL breaks from the relational model.
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