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Joe Celko's Data and Databases: Concepts in Practice (The Morgan Kaufmann Series in Data Management Systems) Paperback – August 10, 1999
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Don't think Joe Celko's Data and Databases: Concepts in Practice is for computer beginners. It starts by defining mathematically what data is, relationships between data, and how all this becomes the information and wisdom that you really want from your database, with a host of fascinating examples and warnings. Read the introduction and you'll even understand statistics better.
The data and relationships in any database are only ever a subset of the real world with just the attributes and relationships that matter to how your database needs to work. As well as explaining all the concepts you need to build and design databases, Celko shows why these matter and how to decide what entities to use to represent data. He covers the major database design techniques; this soon becomes technical, with code snippets and references to various database theories, but usually the examples make sense of it all.
The section on time is fascinating as well as useful, but while the Y2K discussion covers all the important issues, it does seem dated, referring to problems in DOS and Windows 3.1 rather than Windows NT or Windows 95/98. Read this to understand the problem, not for information on how to fix it. The details of how to deal with numerical data, text and "exotic" data like multimedia and geographical information, how to encode data, and how to check for errors are certainly useful, but oddly all of these come before the explanation of what relational databases actually are and how they work.
You'll still need to learn the specifics of whatever database application you plan to use, but if you're a computer professional and you need a fast introduction to the nuts and bolts of database theory and programming, start here. --Penny Jannifer, amazon.co.uk
From the Back Cover
Do you need an introductory book on data and databases? If the book is by Joe Celko, the answer is yes. Data and Databases: Concepts in Practice is the first introduction to relational database technology written especially for practicing IT professionals. If you work mostly outside the database world, this book will ground you in the concepts and overall framework you must master if your data-intensive projects are to be successful. If you're already an experienced database programmer, administrator, analyst, or user, it will let you take a step back from your work and examine the founding principles on which you rely every day-helping you to work smarter, faster, and problem-free.
Whatever your field or level of expertise, Data and Databases offers you the depth and breadth of vision for which Celko is famous. No one knows the topic as well as he, and no one conveys this knowledge as clearly, as effectively-or as engagingly. Filled with absorbing war stories and no-holds-barred commentary, this is a book you'll pick up again and again, both for the information it holds and for the distinctive style that marks it as genuine Celko.
- Supports its extensive conceptual information with example code and other practical illustrations.
- Explains fundamental issues such as the nature of data and data modeling, and moves to more specific technical questions such as scales, measurements, and encoding.
- Offers fresh, engaging approaches to basic and not-so-basic issues of database programming, including data entities, relationships and values, data structures, set operations, numeric data, character string data, logical data and operations, and missing data among others.
- Covers the conceptual foundations of modern RDBMS technology, making it an ideal choice for students.
Top customer reviews
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There are some books that people find useful long after they have been acquainted with a subject--books that articulate ideas and principles that they have internalized from long experience and that elicit a "Yeah, that sure is true" response from the intermediate or advanced reader. This might be one of those books. But speaking as one programmer with some database experience, looking for books to supplement the knowledge I'm having to acquire on the job by necessity, this wasn't a helpful book for me. If you're looking for a true introductory text, spend your time and money elsewhere.
There is one thing I do not like that much in his books. His likes to show that he knows a lot or knows where to find it, without any use for the book. This irritates me a bit. For example, why on earth list the axioms of intuitionist mathematics. I suppose I am one of the few readers who heard about intuitionism before and it is of certainly no help in this book. It is not there for the purposes of the book! Or another example, section 1.2.2 tells a bit about bad math. He tries to show that reporters cannot do simple math. But why does he assume there is a linear relation between weight and burned calories? May be there is a fixed amount of calories that you always burn, no matter what you are doing. I am not an expert on calories, but his logic of showing somebody's errors is not always correct. The correct answer for this calorie problem should be: we do not know and the 'proof' of the reporter is wrong. This does not mean the proposition is wrong! Another mathematical error, he writes that: "The idea of a limit is that there is a value that the sum never exceeds". Well, this is the definition of a upperbound. In case the function is non-decreasing the smalles upperbound will be the limit, it is easy to proof this. Of course, this is not a math book, but if you use the techniques you should be correct.
However, still a nice book to have and Joe mailed me always back when I had a remark or question. This care deservers one extra star!
If you need an introductory book on data and databases then DON'T buy this book, as it's nothing of the sort. If you need a book giving a complete, thorough grounding in all aspects of relation theory, data and databases, again DON'T buy this book. However, if you work with databases for a living, already have a reasonable understanding about them, and want an assorted collection of discussions about the nature of data and databases then certainly DO consider buying it - you may find it gives deeper insights in this case.
The title is interesting - "Data and Databases", which reflects the book itself. The first half of the book mostly discusses the nature of DATA, with the second half mostly about DATABASES. "Concepts" - certainly, the book is mostly about concepts. "In Practice" - definitely NOT the case, as the book is mostly conceptual with very little of a direct practical nature.
I found the chapter on Keys most useful - an in depth discussion about surrogate keys, which most books barely mention at all. However, even this chapter reflects the general nature of the book. For any given topic, Celko picks a specific aspect which interests him, discusses it at length, but gives very superficial coverage of other equally important aspects of that topic.
The main problem with this book is that the description on the back cover is a blatant misrepresentation of its contents. It leads you to believe it is a comprehensive grounding in all aspects of data and databases, but it simply isn't. Celko admits as much in the Preface, stating it is "a collection of ideas...not a complete, formal text".
Previous reviews range from 1 star to 5 stars, but both types of reviews are actually equally valid depending on where the reader is coming from. If you are new to databases and looking for an introductory text then this book is NOT for you, despite the publishers claiming so on the back cover. If you are experienced with databases then certainly DO consider it, as it does give insights you don't normally come across.
I would have given four stars, but can only give 3 due to (a) the disjointed presentation of topics, and (b) the blatant misrepresentation by the publishers about the book's contents. However, I do recommend it to experienced database professionals.
(p.s. - before someone else goes on about reviewers who don't what they are talking about, I've spent over a decade earning my living developing databases, and spent literally thousands of hours doing formal study to Masters level, so I do have a reasonable idea what I'm on about).
Most recent customer reviews
I often wonder why people assume that an introductury book should start with the first...Read more