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61 of 66 people found the following review helpful
I used FUNDAMENTALS OF DATABASE SYSTEMS (Third Edition) in a graduate class I took on databases, and I've kept referring to the book since then. As a student, I'll admit that it was tough to get through this book at times. It's dense and almost impenetrable, but it packs a huge amount of information and is amazingly comprehensive.
It puts theory well ahead of practical matters, which gives the novice a good foundation from which to really get a firm handle on how all these pieces fit together. The assumption is that the student knows nothing, even B-trees are devoted several pages of explanation. The student who does know nothing will doubtless find this wealth of data to be overwhelming at first (as I did). But stick at it. This textbook is not for people looking at how to simply plug things into Microsoft Access. It's for programmers seriously looking to gain a strong background in what the fundamental elements of database components and systems are.
The text starts off simply, merely explaining in general terms what databases are and who will use them. Then we quickly move into modeling how relational databases work. Data Modeling and Entity-Relationship Models are described in-depth, and the book comes back to ER modeling and mapping repeatedly. Object Models are covered, as well as the best ways of sorting records and the best way to index tables. The authors offer a wealth of information concerning the SQL language -- so much so, that there's much that I simply haven't used since reading about it, although I'm sure that more advanced database programmers in the audience will find it very enlightening.
It continues on with Object-Oriented Database technologies, functional dependencies, and normal forms (first, second, third and Boyce-Codd normal form). Higher system views of database architecture are also discussed, giving us an understanding of how different parts are working together. Optimization, recovery, maintenance and security are naturally touched on, as are distributed databases and the basic client/server architecture relationship. As you can see, this is all very theoretical, although some real-life explanations and examples are brought in. But it is by building up a solid knowledge base that will allow the reader to truly understand systems when encountered in the classroom or in the workplace.
I've only touched on a handful of things that the book details in its 1000+ pages. It's packed with mathematical formulas, computer science algorithms, schema design, and the minutua of every database operation. Its approach doesn't make things easy, but it does contain everything you'd want to know about a given item. I had to read various sections multiple times for my coursework, obviously, but every time I studied a passage, I would uncover details and concepts that I had missed the last time. Even now as reference material, I always find myself learning (or relearning) something when consulting this book.
Although in my current job I don't require a massive amount of database knowledge, I still find this an extremely useful reference guide. To be perfectly honest, I don't know if I would find this text helpful if I hadn't taken a course that taught from it. It's certainly intimidating to a beginner. But if you're a moderate to intermediate database programmer, you'll find this an invaluable guide to filling in the gaps in your knowledge. It may be a bit too dense and scary to serve as your only teacher, but you'll probably find it an important one.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 1999
This book has just the right mix of database theory and its practical applications. I've studied other books of the ilk and found that this book has a leg up on them in that it doesn't get too hung up on providing proofs for concepts that are either very intuitive or just not worth going into too detailed a proof for. It also provides a good review of "modern" database techniques like Object Oriented database, deductive databases, etc.
The book could use a little more polish in terms of grammatical correctness. Besides, in my opinion, some concepts, as explained in the book, are just plain wrong. There is no way for one to contact the authors for clarification either.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
If you are looking for a "How to" cookbook for a particular database or application, this is probably the wrong book for you. However, if you are looking for a in-depth discussion of the history and theory of database management systems, it would be hard to find a better book. The book would probably be best accompanying a college course on database theory, or for someone who wants to understand the theory overlying all DBMS systems. It is short on examples of specific applications, but does have valuable discussion of both Oracle 8 and Access 97.
Another nice feature of this book is that it has been recently updated and has much new information about object database theory. I have been studying this book with others, and we have joked about the copyright date of 2000 - hey we're reading next year's book!
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on May 17, 2000
We use this book in a theoretical relational database course at the University of Oslo. The book gives an in-depth introduction to databases. It attempts to cover object oriented databases as well as relational, but there are quite a few errors in those sections of the book. If your primary interests are OO, get another book. If you need the theoretical fundaments of relational databases then this book is for you!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 2001
I am a student in the school of Computer Science and Telecomunications in Athens University.This is the book we are using for three different courses.These are the introduction to Data Bases and File Organisation,Data Bases and Distributed DataBases.The book is very well writen and easy to understand.
But a small experiance in a programming language for the first part of the book is essential.After you read this book you would be able to probe further and start reading books about SQL,PL/SQL etc. rather than begining with them and not knowing the theory first.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2008
Do you remember the 80's "Twilight Zone" episode where a man slowly loses his mind as the people around him start combining words in meaningless sentences, rendering him unable to understand anything in his native language?

That's how I felt while reading this book.

This was the suggested textbook for a course I took on database management systems. After the first chapter, this book rapidly became impossible to understand. Arcane terms are defined, redefined and concatenated in countless combinations, each with different shades of meaning. Concepts are introduced in the text without giving examples in the figures. Worse yet, the answers to the practice problems are not included in the back of the book. (Side note: this is the first time I have ever considered impersonating a college instructor in order to get the solutions manual from the publisher.)

As a supplement (or alternative) to this book, I'd recommend David Kroenke's "Database Concepts" (Prentice Hall, 2nd Edition), as well as C.J. Date's "Introduction to Database Systems" (Addison-Wesley, 6th Edition).

This book has helped kill any enthusiasm I might have had for working with databases. Thank you, Dr. Elmasri!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on June 18, 2003
This is a most comprehensive book for database at the same time having enough depth and I have used this book for 2 courses and read it in entirely.It covers every area of the db from realtional models,database design,system impelmentation techniques to advanced concepts.If you want to know about databases in entierty, this is the book.
I have read some of the negative reviews, guys this is a not book for learning sql or for that matter is not titled database for dummies.I agree that you need some background in computer science but I donot think there is advanced math in it.
Please READ THE TITLE and the abstract and probably then make your views about the book.
I give it 5 stars because it achieves what it desires brilliantly
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on July 23, 2002
To a reader who wants to just learn database design and implementation, this book may overkill, or can pick up what is needed based on the guide given in the preface of the book. Also the binding of the book is excellent in my case.
Some reader comments that the book is too hard or has too many definitions. Indeed, there are a lot of definitions introduced in the book, so the understanding of the contents may be masked. A reader would be more comfortable with reading this book with introductory knowledge of programming, sets, logic, and hands-on experience with one of DBMS. I spent time on filpping pages back many times to refer to the definitons and figures, but considering the quality of the book, that kind of annoyance is negligible to me. (however no glossory is provided). A self-study reader should be aware that no answer is provided to the problem sets.
I appreciate the concise, accurate and careful writing, which makes this book 5 stars to me. A self-study reader should love to see a little diagram in preface that shows which chapter shoud be covered before reading another chapter.
There are three versions of this 3rd ed. So a reader is advised to pick one from: the book alone, the book w/ e-book (electronic copy of this book in cdrom), and the book w/ Oracle emphasis (w/ cdrom). Just click on one of the authors hyperlink.
I also found some additional materials available on web by one the authors at GaTech. Chekc them out.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on August 31, 2002
The author has done great justice to the subject of database in the modern settings. I recommend this book as the first serious academic (yet practical) database book to read.It is not a book on a specific tool however. It is mainly a conceptual development book as it claims to be. As a faculty member in Computer Science, I have read many database books at all levels of difficulties. It is one of the best books I have read that I think has provided the clearest possible explanation on the Entity Relationship model.
Having said all these positive comments, I would like to suggest to the authors to put more in-depth, concrete, as well as practical examples in the topics on Relational Calculus and Relational Algebra in order to the students true appreciations why efforts on learning such abstracts tools are justified. Much stronger emphasis on Object-Oriented databases would be a very timely addtions to the next edition, which I sincerely look forward to purchasing a copy of, if and when it materializes.
I strongly recommend this book for a 3rd year level univeristy level database course for all faculties in computer science and computer information systems as a formal text. It is well worth every penny of your money spent.
Lawrence Lee
Vancouver BC, Canada.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2008
Overall, this is a wonderful book for learning how databases work. It doesn't cover the code for all modern database wonders, but hits most of them. Best of all, it provides psuedo code showing how to implement your own methods. However, I did find errors with some of the code, in particular the sorted-merge join algorithm will miss records if the right-hand-side table has multiple matching fields. It was easy to correct, but a mistake on such a fundamental algorithm is hard to overlook. Worst, Pearson doesn't provide an easy-to-find errata site, so I couldn't report the bug or even see if there were others. Addison-wesley never had that problem. Reading this book will make any DBMS make sense under the hood. Finally, I take point away for wordiness. This books is overcomplicated and wordy and doesn't make itself useful to beginning developers. This book tries to be a history book and reference all in one and it can be overwhelming, even to someone who's written his own DBMS before. Half of the chapters seem like unnecessary chatter, just to take up some more pages to rake up the price . . . and what a price!
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