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An Introduction to Relational Database Theory

An Introduction to Relational Database Theory
4.5 (11 reviews) Read reviews
ISBN: 978-87-403-0777-1
4 edition
Pages : 235
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This book introduces you to the theory of relational databases, focusing on the application of that theory to the design of computer languages that properly embrace it.

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About the book

  1. Reviews
  2. Description
  3. Preface
  4. Content
  5. About the Author


Sima ★★★★★

I don't remember the last time I enjoyed reading a technical book as I enjoyed reading An Introduction to Relational Database Theory.


This book introduces you to the theory of relational databases, focusing on the application of that theory to the design of computer languages that properly embrace it. The book is intended for those studying relational databases as a part of a degree course in Information Technology (IT).


This book introduces you to the theory of relational databases, focusing on the application of that theory to the design of computer languages that properly embrace it. The book is intended for those studying relational databases as part of a degree course in Information Technology (IT). Relational database theory, originally proposed by Edgar F. Codd in 1969, is a topic in Computer Science. Codd’s seminal paper (1970) was entitled A Relational Model of Data for Large Shared Data Banks (reference [5] in Appendix B).

An introductory course on relational databases offered by a university’s Computer Science (or similarly named) department is typically broadly divided into a theory component and what we might call an “industrial” component. The “industrial” component typically teaches the language, SQL (Structured Query Language ), that is widely used in the industry for database purposes, and it might also teach other topics of current significance in the industry. Although this book is only about the theory, I hope it will be interesting and helpful to you even if your course’s main thrust is industrial.


  1. Introduction
    1. Introduction
    2. What Is a Database?
    3. “Organized Collection of Symbols”
    4. “To Be Interpreted as a True Account”
    5. “Collection of Variables”
    6. What Is a Relational Database?
    7. “Relation” Not Equal to “Table”
    8. Anatomy of a Relation
    9. What Is a DBMS?
    10. What Is a Database Language?
    11. What Does a DBMS Do?
    12. Creating and Destroying Variables
    13. Taking Note of Integrity Rules
    14. Taking Note of Authorisations
    15. Updating Variables
    16. Providing Results of Queries
  2. Values, Types, Variables, Operators
    1. Introduction
    2. Anatomy of A Command
    3. Important Distinctions
    4. A Closer Look at a Read-Only Operator (+)
    5. Read-only Operators in Tutorial D
    6. What Is a Type?
    7. What Is a Type Used For?
    8. The Type of a Relation
    9. Relation Literals
    10. Types and Representations
    11. What Is a Variable?
    12. Updating a Variable
    13. Conclusion
  3. Predicates and Propositions
    1. Introduction
    2. What Is a Predicate?
    3. Substitution and Instantiation
    4. How a Relation Represents an Extension
    5. Deriving Predicates from Predicates
  4. Relational Algebra—The Foundation
    1. Introduction
    2. Relations and Predicates
    3. Relational Operators and Logical Operators
    4. JOIN and AND
    5. RENAME
    6. Projection and Existential Quantification
    7. Restriction and AND
    8. Extension and AND
    9. UNION and OR
    10. Semidifference and NOT
    11. Concluding Remarks
  5. Building on The Foundation
    1. Introduction
    2. Semijoin and Composition
    3. Aggregate Operators
    4. Relations within a Relation
    5. Using Aggregate Operators with Nested Relations
    7. GROUP and UNGROUP
    8. WRAP and UNWRAP
    9. Relation Comparison
    10. Other Operators on Relations and Tuples
  6. Constraints and Updating
    1. Introduction
    2. A Closer Look at Constraints and Consistency
    3. Expressing Constraint Conditions
    4. Useful Shorthands for Expressing Constraints
    5. Updating Relvars
  7. Database Design I: Projection-Join Normalization
    1. Introduction
    2. Avoiding Redundancy
    3. Join Dependencies
    4. Fifth Normal Form
    5. Functional Dependencies
    6. Keys
    7. The Role of FDs and Keys in Optimization
    8. Boyce-Codd Normal Form (BCNF)
    9. JDs Not Arising from FDs
  8. Database Design II: Other Issues
    1. Group-Ungroup and Wrap-Unwrap Normalization
    2. Restriction-Union Normalization
    3. Surrogate Keys
    4. Representing “Entity Subtypes”

About the Author

Hugh Darwen was employed in IBM’s software development divisions from 1967 to 2004. In the early part of his career, he was involved in DBMS development; from 1978 to 1982, he was one of the chief architects of an IBM product called Business System 12, a product that faithfully embraced the principles of the relational model. He was an active participant in the development of the international standard for SQL (and related standards) from 1988 to 2004. Based in the UK, he currently teaches relational database theory at Warwick University and is a tutor and course development consultant for the Open University. His previous publications are all collaborative efforts with Chris Date, perhaps the best known and mostly highly acclaimed author in the field of relational databases:

C.J. Date and Hugh Darwen: Databases, Types, and The Relational Model: The Third Manifesto. 3rd edition, Addison-Wesley, 2007.

C.J. Date, Hugh Darwen, Nikos Lorentzos: Temporal Data and The Relational Model. Morgan Kaufmann, 2001.

C.J. Date with Hugh Darwen: Relational Database Writings, 1989-1991. Addison-Wesley, 1992.

As Andrew Warden: "Adventures in Relationland", a special contribution in C.J. Date, Relational Database Writings, 1985-1989. Addison-Wesley, 1990.

C.J. Date with Hugh Darwen. A Guide to The SQL Standard. 4th edition, Addison-Wesley, 1997.

C.J. Date and Hugh Darwen. Database Explorations: Essays on The Third Manifesto. Trafford.

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