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SQL and Relational Theory: How to Write Accurate SQL Code 1st Edition

16 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0596523060
ISBN-10: 0596523068
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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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 428 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (February 2, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596523068
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596523060
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,287,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By John Jacobson on March 21, 2009
Format: Paperback
In this book the author argues that the only database model that will endure is the relational model, because it is "rock solid" and "right." Other models such as the "hierarchic model" or the "object oriented model" or the "semistructured model" are doomed to fail because there is no consensus on what they actually represent.

The relational model of databases is based on the pioneering work of E.F. Codd, a mathematician working for IBM who published his initial seminal paper in 1969. A language to support queries in relational databases was subsequently developed, which was ultimately named SQL, and variants of that language are used to extract data from relational databases.

This book gives an excellent review of SQL; it includes many examples of SQL code. The book is written as a technical treatise and would not be an easy read for someone who isn't familiar with the use of SQL. The original description of relational databases was mathematical in nature, and this book follows in that vein, using mathematical "proofs" to illustrate the best approach to the use of SQL in relational databases. There are many exercises given at the end of each chapter, and the answers to the exercises are given at the end of the book. There is a seven page index. Appendices A & B provide a somewhat simplified, easier to read discussion of the primary goals of the book than the book chapters do, for those wishing a simplified synopsis of the main points, I'd suggest reading those appendices first.

For those who would appreciate a theoretical discussion of database design and SQL development that will "bullet proof" their code, this is an excellent book. For those who'd like a more nuanced discussion of why there should only be one instance of any data set in their tables, this book provides the answers. But for the mathematically challenged, it may be tough going.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By M. Helmke on June 23, 2009
Format: Paperback
I have spent the last three or four weeks struggling through this book. Never content to know only the "how" of something, I wanted to learn some of the "why" behind SQL databases. This book covers that in depth, with a steep learning curve for someone like me who has a bit of experience using SQL in various applications, but who has never formally studied it. That is not a bad thing.

First, a bit of background. The author, C. J. Date, is well known in the field for his classic textbook An Introduction to Database Systems, which has gone through at least eight editions. He began working on databases in 1970 at IBM and worked with the inventor of the relational theory of database design, E. F. Codd. There is no doubt that this is a man who knows what he is talking about.

What this book sets out to do, in about 400 pages, is describe and define the relational model in greater depth and compare how SQL is currently used in many database applications like Oracle and MySQL to the theoretical ideal. As he does this, Date points out several inconsistencies with the SQL adaptation of the relational model and makes suggestions for how to adjust common usage to more closely conform to the ideal while acknowledging that at times perfect syncronization will be impossible using SQL. He also gives numerous examples of how it could be done in Tutorial D, which is an interesting study in itself.

I submit that this book is ideal for theorists, for highly qualified and experienced database administrators who want to learn at the feet of a sometimes emphatic and slightly dogmatic master who has been instrumental in the creation and spread of the relational database idea, but whose theory has not been perfectly implemented.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Scott Gowell on March 16, 2009
Format: Paperback
C. J. Date has just released what I would say is the "Code Complete" manual for SQL. Not for the layman, this work explains [in intricate detail] the whys and wherefores of SQL, and how to over its many idiosyncrasies. From Keys and Constraints, to using joins, to all the types of normalization, this is a great reference for everyone.

If you read this book, please follow the author's instructions and don't skip over sections because of some familiarity. The detail in which he delves into even "simple" functionality in SQL are useful to see the big picture.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Trisha Davis on September 12, 2010
Format: Paperback
To start, this book is about theory and is not for anyone looking for a specific vendor implementation. Just trying to get through the first few chapter is tough because it's (just as the rest of the book) very dry and full of theory. There isn't much practicality in this book that you can apply to the real world but it does give you a way to think about what is going on behind the SQL scenes - or does it? Since each vendor has their own interpretations and implementations, I'm not so sure how this book can help structure better SQL statements in practice.

Since this book is nothing more than a history lesson with insightful explanations and examples, I would only recommend it for the academics. The book itself is not all bad however; I enjoyed chapter 4, "No duplicates, no nulls". The truth tables presented really give an idea of what potential bugs you might run into while dealing with comparisons.

To sum it up, this might as well be a textbook.
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