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The Art of SQL Paperback – March 1, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0596008949 ISBN-10: 0596008945 Edition: 1st

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The Art of SQL + SQL Antipatterns: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Database Programming (Pragmatic Programmers) + SQL Cookbook (Cookbooks (O'Reilly))
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 372 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (March 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596008945
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596008949
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #427,773 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Stephane Faroult first discovered relational databases and the SQL language back in 1983. He joined Oracle France in their early days (after a brief spell with IBM and a bout of teaching at the University of Ottawa) and soon developed an interest in performance and tuning topics. After leaving Oracle in 1988, he briefly tried to reform and did a bit of operational research, but after one year, he succumbed again to relational databases. He has been continuously performing database consultancy since then, and founded RoughSea Ltd in 1998.

Graduated in geology from Durham University (1968), then taught at Edinburgh University, obtaining an M.Phil in geology 1975. Worked in Greece as a geologist (1973,74), and then in University of Newcastle specialising in geological databases.Joined the British Geological Survey 1980, and has steered the organisations' use of database ever since, as data architect and database administrator. Has worked with databases since 1977, relational databases since 1981, and Oracle since 1985. He has lectured widely in the UK on geological aspects of database and has specialised on aspects of the SQL system as well as data modelling from the corporate architecture down to the departmental level. He has presented at various Oracle database conferences both in the UK, Europe and North America. Currently a director on the board of the UK Oracle Users Group.


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Customer Reviews

I'm thoroughly enjoying this book.
Catherine Devlin
Stephane Faroult has written perhaps one of the most important books on SQL and Relational Databases since the magisterial work of Dr. E.F. Codd.
Michael Tozer
I wish this book had been around when I was learning databases!
Eric Wuehler

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Eric Wuehler on August 25, 2006
Format: Paperback
The Art of SQL is a truly unique book. In sharp contrast to many other database books on the market, this one does not endeavor to provide an exhaustive SQL reference guide, a low-level vendor-specific DBMS implementation description, or a cookbook-style collection of FAQs. Instead it explains, in incredibly straightforward and clear language, how to think about SQL, schema design, and DBMS operation in general and apply that knowledge to real-world situations. It provides simple mental models for the inner workings of most modern database systems along with concrete examples of how these mental models can be used to speed up queries and design better-performing schemas.

Throughout the book many commonly encountered design patterns query requirements are discussed, such as tree or hierarchy-based data structures, name/value pair tables and various common types of selection filtering and aggregation. For each of these, multiple implementation options are described and evaluated, with the pros and cons of each approach explained. This book assumes the reader is proficient at forming SQL statements, and thus spends its time exploring how restructuring tables and indexes or reforming queries can affect performance. There is a stronger focus on schema design considerations rather than query structure optimization, which I really appreciated because many SQL references focus almost exclusively on the latter.

There are also a number of rather complicated real-world examples sprinkled throughout the book. These are carefully analyzed using the concepts presented in their respective chapters. The idea here isn't that the reader might encounter these exact problems in their projects, but rather to illustrate the process of applying the book's concepts to a concrete problem.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By MGMcd on September 14, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Probably most database solution developers and DBAs have picked up their knowledge of the subject as they have needed it, rather than in a formal and structured (so to speak) method. And even those that have had a structured education probably learned a lot more while in the field. And so there are always gaps. Gaps in technique, but also gaps in the why of many things that I, for example, took for granted about large DBMS's and SQL.

This book handily fills in those gaps. It assumes a moderate to advanced foundation in SQL and DBMS, and then takes off from there.

It is mostly prose with some code and SQL sprinkled throughout, but if you have a foundation, you can flesh out the technique. It is like listening to a graduate level lecture. It is distilled wisdom more than How To, and the more you bring to the material, the more you will get from it. And every page is rich with information. I don't feel like I have wasted my time on any one page, as I often do in the how to manuals.

Definitely an advanced piece.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Adnan Masood on August 5, 2006
Format: Paperback
SQL being a declarative style language is intuitive in simplicity, and yet, the instincts are not enough when you enter the labyrinth of complex problems. From an application developer's prospect, I'm familiar with different mindsets of programmers. Those who despise writing SQL beside CRUD statements and consider it a lowly languages, to those who religiously believe the business logic should reside in business objects (hence the name) and the lingua franca of database should not contain any of the rules despite the performance gains. Then there is SQL zealots who prefer to write virtually everything in SQL and would like to use high level algorithmically sophisticated languages as sheer callers. Nevertheless, SQL is ubiquitously essential part of a developer's everyday life and "The Art of SQL" by Stephane's Farlout the best thing after SUN-TZU's "Art of War" in the SQL warfare.

"The Art of SQL" is theory and practice blended; once you start reading it, it becomes something in between Knuth's Art of Computer Science with C++ annotated reference manual. This 350 page book is divided into twelve chapters and written as a pseudo war-manual. The topics of chapters are as follows.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Odysseus Levy on December 24, 2006
Format: Paperback
I originally really liked the idea of comparing database design to the ancient "Art of War" classic, but the more I read the book, the more annoying and overly cute this tactic became.

Amongst all the verbiage there appears to be really useful information, but extracting that information became too much work for me and I gave up on this book. And there were almost no concrete examples or case studies to back anything up.

So far the most important book I've read is Sql Tuning by Dan Tow. It takes some work, but it is very, very worth it. Try that one instead.
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