Note: In "Setting Matters Straight" posts I debunk online Q&As that involve fundamentals which I first post on LinkedIn. The purpose is to induce practitioners to test their foundation knowledge against our debunking, where we explain what is correct and what is fallacious. For in-depth treatments check out the POSTS and our PAPERS, LINKS and BOOKS (or organize one of our on-site/online SEMINARS, which can be customized to specific needs). Questions and comments are welcome here and on LinkedIn.

Q: “What is a relation in database?”

A: “Relational databases were so named in 1970 by computer scientist E. F. Codd because the tables are themselves relations, which is a mathematical term. What makes a relation (aka a table) a relation? Basically:See? There’s nothing about relationships between tables in the definition of a relation. You could have a relational database that contains just one relation. If there’s any relationship described in a relation, it’s actually the relationship between the columns within a relation. That is, the value "Pittsburgh" goes with the value "Steelers" on a given row because the relation is defined as "pro football teams by city" and therefore there’s a linkage between some values in the set of football teams and the set of city names.” --Quora.com

- A relation has a heading, which names a finite set of columns.
- Columns are defined by their name and their type.
- A relation has a finite set of tuples (aka rows), and every tuple has the same set of columns (i.e. same name and type) as those named in the heading.
- Being finite sets, both the set of columns in the heading and the set of tuples in the relation have no duplicates and no inherent order.