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SQL and Relational Theory: How to Write Accurate SQL Code Paperback – December 28, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-1449316402 ISBN-10: 1449316409 Edition: Second Edition

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SQL and Relational Theory: How to Write Accurate SQL Code + Database Design and Relational Theory: Normal Forms and All That Jazz (Theory in Practice) + SQL Antipatterns: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Database Programming (Pragmatic Programmers)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; Second Edition edition (December 28, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1449316409
  • ISBN-13: 978-1449316402
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 6.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #464,146 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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By mko on January 18, 2012
Format: Paperback
SQL and Relational Theory is devoted to relational theory and explaining why SQL is not relationally complete. Author will guide you through various topics from the relational modeling and show how SQL is limited in a way. At some point this is interesting but will left you with a felling that you have to stick to practices derived from particular implementation of the SQL while at the same time you will be aware of it's limitations in relational sense. This can lead to the increase of the anger level towards your database vendor.

When I was reading the book there was one thing that bothered me all the time. C.J. introduces "Tutorial D" language which is, let's say, better suited for relation modeling than SQL is. I can agree with C.J. here, but question is whether learning yet another language just for the tutorial purpose is worth the effort. I am not sure what the answer should be, because it is hard to imagine how to explain some of the topics without any language at all.

When you read the book, you can definitely tell that C.J. has mathematical background. He tries to be very specific at almost each aspect of the book and makes no space for misinterpretation - especially when it comes to the definitions. Sometimes it seems to be little bit awkward though (e.g. see the definition of comma separated list). This has it's advantages and disadvantages. At some point you can be sure what author meant to say, while at the same time the language of the book has this special, "scientific feeling". I, personally, am the very fan of Wittgenstein's thesis that everything you want to say can be said simply. Anyway, bear in mind that the book is theoretical rather than pragmatic.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Dan P on June 12, 2012
Format: Paperback
I purchased this book to get a good grasp on the theory behind database systems, which I use in my regular work. In terms of content, it's all here. All the knowledge is represented and understandable.

But I have to stress how awful the writing in this book can be. The author wastes a lot of time repeating himself or speaking in a condescending manner about "common practices" and "misconceptions." After reading the reviews and praise for this book on both Amazon and StackOverflow, I was expecting clarity and concision in the spirit of Kernighan and Ritchie's The C Programming Language, but I was thoroughly disappointed. Date's book is painful to read. There are some sections which read well enough, but too often the pacing of the book grinds to a halt as he reiterates or over-elaborates on minor points, and occasionally his tone is so overbearing and condescending that I get frustrated and have to put the book down.

There are things to learn here. But you will have a painful time finding them as you slog through this book.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By SB on July 23, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is amazing! Chap 11 alone is worth it! Date can repeat the same thing (I've read most of his books) a 100 times, but each time he provides a subtle different insight. He describes in detail why some issues are bad (nulls, duplicates etc) -- sound simple, but it is easy to overlook their 'side-effects' , how entities (rvas) must be treated semantically (predicates), semi join & join are unrelated, but difference is special semi-difference . Date is 'Time'less
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Beckham on January 5, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am plowing my way through this book, and I must say that it appears to be impressive from an abstract, mathematical point of view, but I don't understand it!! I have been programming with PHP/MySQL for a few years, getting along ok, but in need of some theory behind my efforts. I thought Date's books would do it, especially in light of the reviews I've been reading. However, the author writes with such abstract complexity (though he tries - and fails - to make it seem down-to-earth), that I have to read and reread and reread and reread the same sentence, just to get some sense of what he is trying to say!

For example, Date defines an interesting term, "relvar", which stands for "relation variable". He goes into some detail about how that is distinguished from a "relation value", a "relation", a "table", and other terms. After reading it all, I thought I understood what a relvar was. Turns out that there is some distinction between "relvar" and "relation" or "relation value" that still escapes me, so when I get into other areas of the book, I am lost. This is a major aspect of Date's explanations of the relational model, yet I cannot grasp the subtleties that he finds fundamental - and, apparently, obvious. What a mess!

Date requires precision in the definition of terms, and I understand that from a philosophical point of view. However, he does not go through adequate explanations of those definitions, at least from my point of view.
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