We offer two series of papers:

Series 2: UNDERSTANDING THE REAL RDM (see full description)

  • An informal, easy to understand access for the data professional to David McGoveran's formal exposition and interpretation of the real RDM envisioned by E. F. Codd; and
  • A contrast with the conventional wisdom that emerged after Codd's passing and the practical implications of the differences.


  • Dispel common, entrenched fallacies about data and relational fundamentals;
  • Clarify important aspects of data management that are systematically ignored, misunderstood, misused and abused;
  • Expose the practical implications of the Relational Data Model which practitioners are unaware;
for the data professional and user who thinks critically and independently, rather than operates in the IT industry's "cookbook mode".

The papers in both series are listed in descending chronological order of publication:

The Key to Relational Keys: A New Understanding -- Primary Keys, PRACTICAL DATABASE FOUNDATIONS #4 (v.3 February 2018)

Table of Contents



1 Relation Interpretation

2 Entity Properties, Names and Identification

3 Relational Keys

4 Primary Keys
4.1 Formal Primary Key Mandate
4.2 Primary Key Selection
4.2.1 Candidate and Alternate Keys
4.2.2 Composite Keys
4.2.3 Natural and Surrogate Keys
4.2.4 Some Examples
4.2.5 Surrogate Key Illusions



Appendix A: Duplicates and their consequences
1. Duplicates and SQL
1.1 Logical Validity and Semantic Correctness
1.2 Nestability
1.3 Result Interpretation
1.4 Performance Optimization
1.5 Duplicate Removal

Appendix B: Keys in SQL

Logical Symmetric Access, Data Sublanguage, Kinds of Relations, Redundancy and Consistency, UNDERSTANDING THE REAL RDM #2 (v.1 August 9, 2019)) (see description)

Table of Contents



1. Logical Symmetric Access

2. Universal Data Sub-language
2.1. FOPL vs. SOPL
2.2. Relational Completeness
2.3. Computational Completeness and Hosting

3. Kinds of Relations
3.1. Expressible and Named Relations
3.2. Derived Relations
3.3. Relations with Stored Data

4. Derived Relations and Redundancy
4.1. Database Consistency

5. Database Catalog



The Interpretation and Representation of Database Relations, UNDERSTANDING THE REAL RDM #1 (v.1 April 2017) (see description)

Table of Contents

Series Preface


1. The Interpretation of Database Relations
1.1. Attributes as Constrained Domains
1.2. Time-Varying Relations

2. Representation of Database Relations
2.1. Physical Independence
2.1.1. Uniquely Named Attributes
2.1.2. Primary Keys
2.1.3. Relations and R-tables

3. Database Normalization
3.1. Simple Domains and Normal Form
3.2. Non-simple Domains and Normalization
3.2.1. Foreign Keys



Business Modeling for Database Design: Formalizing the Informal, PRACTICAL DATABASE FOUNDATIONS #1 (V.4 May 2015)

Table of Contents


1. Business Modeling
1.1. Basic Modeling Concepts
1.2. Business Rules
1.2.1. Property Rules
1.2.2. Class Rules
1.2.3. Associative Entities
1.3. Business Models

2. Database Design
2.1. Formalizing the Informal
2.2. Predicates and Propositions
2.3. The Relational Data Model
2.3.1. Relational Structure
2.3.2 Relational Integrity
2.3.3. Relational Manipulation
2.4. Logical Models

3. Understanding Database Management
3.1. Note on missing values
3.2. A Foundation Framework

Appendix A: Constraint Formulation and Verification

Appendix B: Integrity Constraints in Dataphor’s D4

Appendix C: Some Misconceptions Debunked


The Costly Illusion: Normalization, Integrity and Performance, PRACTICAL DATABASE FOUNDATIONS #2 (v.4 May 2015)

Table of Contents


1. R-tables, Keys and Dependencies

2. Normalization and Normal Forms

3. Further Normalization As Design Repair
3.1. Join Dependencies
3.2. “The Whole Key” and 2NF
3.3. “Nothing But the Key” and 3NF
3.4. “The Whole Key” and BCNF
3.5. Multivalued Dependencies and 4NF
3.6. Interval Data and 6NF

4. “Denormalization For Performance”
4.1. The Logical-Physical Confusion
4.2. Redundancy Control
4.3. JDC’s and SQL
4.4. The Real Problem and Solution

5. Conclusion and Recommendations


The Final NULL in the Coffin: A Relational Solution to Missing Data, PRACTICAL DATABASE FOUNDATIONS #3 ( V.4 May 2015)

Table of Contents


1. “Inapplicable Data”: Nothing's Missing

2. Missing Data: Into the Unknown

3. SQL’s NULL: What-Valued Logic?

4. Known Unknowns: Metadata

5. A 2VL Relational Solution
5.1. The Practicality of Theory
5.2. 2VL vs. NULL’s in the Real World
5.3. Relation Proliferation
5.4. TRIM


Appendix A: What’s Wrong with this Picture?
1. "Not Complicated"
2. "Part of the Real World"
3. "Integral Part of Relational Databases"
4. "Throw a Damn Exception"
5. "Useless"

Appendix B: Comments on the Proposed Solution


Truly Relational: What It Really Means, PRACTICAL DATABASE FOUNDATIONS #5 (V.3 May 2015)

Table of Contents


1. Relations on Domains

2. Relation Representation

3. Time-Varying Relations

4. Relation Interpretation

5. Data Sub-language

6. Atomicity, Nested Relations, and Normalization

7. Foreign Keys and (First) Normal Form

8. Operations on Relations

9. Kinds of Relations

10. Derivability, Redundancy, Consistency


Appendix A: Codd’s 1969 Relational Operators

Appendix B: Debunking Misconceptions

Domains: The Database Glue, PRACTICAL DATABASE FOUNDATIONS #6 (V.2 January 2015)

Table of Contents


1. Domains and Types
1.1. Meaning and Representation

2. Kinds of Domains
2.1. “Simple” Domains
2.2. “Complex” Domains
2.3. User-Defined Domains and System-Defined Types

3. Domains and SQL

4. Some Practical Implications
4.1. “Universal” DBMS
4.2. Database Design
4.3. ODBMS
4.4. NoSQL
4.5 Tackling Complexity



1 paper         $ 25.00
2 papers        $ 45.00 
3 papers        $ 65.00
4 papers        $ 85.00
5 papers        $105.00
6 papers        $125.00

Contact us for volume discounts.

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  • Next year revisions are free.
  • Next year or later new versions are half price.

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Fabian Pascal
Founder, Editor, Publisher and Debunker-in-Chief


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