SQL and Relational Theory

This book is for experienced database administrators and programmers looking to take advantage of the full relational model in the design and use of their databases with any database management system that uses SQL.

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This book doesn't cover any specific database and it doesn't teach SQL. Instead what this book does is to examine the relational data model and looks at what parts of SQL do and don't support that model. The book deals almost exclusively with what parts of SQL to use in order to properly define and use a relational database. Many people are probably wondering what the point of this book is because they believe that a database created using any of the Database Management Systems (DBMS) that support SQL are relational databases and the point of this book is to clearly demonstrate that many such databases are in fact not relational databases at all.

One issue that the book deals with all the way through is terminology and how most books dealing with databases use the same term to refer to two or more different things which in some cases lead to confusion since the subtle difference can be extremely important to understanding relational databases properly. For example a diagram showing a database 'table' may show the 'columns' and 'rows' in a particular order whereas a 'relationship' in the relational model does not imply any particular ordering to the 'attributes' and 'tuples' it contains. By clearly defining terms when they are first used (or soon after) this book makes it extremely clear just how the real relational model differs from many people's conception of it.

While the book deals throughout with relational theory (as is obvious from the title), it deals with it in a very practical way showing you how to apply it so as to get the greatest benefit from its use - logically consistent databases. Anyone who is developing databases or writing programs that access databases and who has at least a basic knowledge of SQL will get some benefit out of this book, particularly those who already consider themselves to be at an intermediate to advanced level (since beginners may not have a sufficient understanding of databases to be able to follow the discussions). This would not be the first book on databases that you'd add to your library and probably not the second but it might be the third or fourth.

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