Saturday, January 23, 2021

"Codd was wrong" and "You're teaching the gospel" Betray Lack of Foundation Knowledge

Note: I have documented and debunked these misconceptions so many times that I will no longer reference them -- the reader motivated to gain genuine understanding should use the (1) blog labels (2) Blogger search (3) POSTS page to locate the relevant posts.

I have long claimed that a core problem in the industry is the vast majority of practitioners who use relational terminology, do not know/understand what it means, yet are convinced they do -- the less the understanding, the greater the convinction. A recent LinkedIn exchange provided -- as if it were needed -- yet another example. It was triggered by my comment:

“How many know today that a relation is by definition in 5NF, otherwise it's not a relation, the relational algebra has "anomalies" and all bets are off? IMO, none! If you need to "do" normalization, you did not design correctly, which means you don't understand the RDM.”
that prompted the following reaction:
“Is that really true? You construct a table and fill it full of garbage. It may not even be in 1NF, but is it not still a "relation" of columns, even if it's not a relation of rows or attributes? Codd had no real conception of syntax as separate from semantics, I don't think relational theory has a clear position on this. This is where Kimball and dimensional systems differ from Codd's relational, it made some effort (not a lot) to distinguish syntactic and semantic elements.”
--Joshua Stern

Saturday, January 16, 2021

(OBG) Missing Data Part 5: Many-valued Logics and NULL Part 2

Note: To demonstrate the correctness and stability due to a sound theoretical foundation relative to the industry's fad-driven "cookbook" practices, I am re-publishing as "Oldies But Goodies" material from the old DBDebunk.com (2000-06), so that you can judge for yourself how well my arguments hold up and whether the industry has progressed beyond the misconceptions those arguments were intended to dispel. I may revise, break into parts, and/or add comments and/or references.

In response to a LinkedIn thread where interest was expressed in a "NULL research" project, we re-publish as "Oldies But Goodies" a series of old exchanges with readers reacting to our The Final NULL in the Coffin: A Relational Solution to Missing Data: in Parts 1, 2, 3  we re-published a past exchange between myself and Hugh Darwen with a reader on the pros and cons of our solution vs. Hugh Darwen's "horizontal decomposition" NULLless solution, and in Part 4 my debunking of reactions to an article of mine on the subject which exhibit the confusion inevitably evoked by NULL.

We complete this series with an exchange with a reader who claimed that our criticism applies to SQL's specific implementations of NULL, not to the NULL concept itself. I and David McGoveran explained that the implementation flaws in SQL derive directly from the deeper problems endemic to many-valued logics

Saturday, January 9, 2021

(OBG) Missing Data Part 4: Many-valued Logics and NULL Part 1

Note: To demonstrate the correctness and stability of a sound theoretical foundation relative to the industry's fad-driven "cookbook" practices, I am re-publishing as "Oldies But Goodies" material from the old DBDebunk.com (2000-06), so that you can judge for yourself how well my arguments hold up and whether the industry has progressed beyond the misconceptions those arguments were intended to dispel. I may break long pieces into multiple posts, revise, and/or add comments and references.

In response to a LinkedIn exchange we continue the series about missing data, NULL and the RDM. In Parts 1,2 and 3 we re-published a past exchange between myself and Hugh Darwen on the pros and cons of our relational solution to missing data vs. Hugh's "horizontal decomposition".

Here we re-publish my debunking of reactions to an article of mine exhibiting the common confusions evoked by NULL.

Friday, January 1, 2021

(OBG) Database Design and Guaranteed Correctness Part 2

Note: This is a re-write of an earlier post (which now links here), to bring it into line with the current understanding of the RDM derived from McGoveran formalization and interpretation of Codd's work[1]. Reference [9] is also an important re-write and is recommended pre-requisite for this post.

Continued from Part 1

 “The term database design can be used to describe many different parts of the design of an overall database system. Principally, and most correctly, it can be thought of as the logical design of the base data structures used to store the data. In the relational model these are the tables and views ... However, the term database design could also be used to apply to the overall process of designing, not just the base data structures, but also the forms and queries used as part of the overall database application within the database management system(DBMS). The process of doing database design generally consists of a number of steps which will be carried out by the database designer. Usually, the designer must:

  • Determine the data to be stored in the database.
  • Determine the relationships between the different data elements.
  • Superimpose a logical structure upon the data on the basis of these relationships.
Within the relational model the final step above can generally be broken down into two further steps, that of determining the grouping of information within the system, generally determining what are the basic objects about which information is being stored, and then determining the relationships between these groups of information, or objects.”
--What is a Relational Database, Quora.com
There is, typically, much vagueness and confusion here and instead of debunking it makes more sense to provide a rigorous description of what database design really is: formalization of a conceptual model -- expressed as business rules -- as a logical model for representation in the database using a formal data model. If the data model is the RDM, the logical model consists of relations constrained for semantic consistency with the conceptual mode, the constraints being formalizations of the business rules.

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