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Data and Reality: A Timeless Perspective on Perceiving and Managing Information in Our Imprecise World, 3rd Edition by William Kent

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Foreword to the New Edition of Data and Reality

By Graeme Simsion in 2012

With a single word, Data and Reality lays down a challenge to data modeling practitioners, teachers, and researchers.

The word is arbitrary, which Merriam-Webster defines as "…based on or determined by individual preference or convenience…." William Kent uses the word throughout the book—and particularly in the first chapter—to characterize some of the most important decisions that data modelers make.

The boundaries of an entity are arbitrary, our selection of entity types is arbitrary, the distinction between entities, attributes, and relationships is arbitrary. In a similar vein, he uses variants of the word ambiguous some fifty times, pointing out important and often fundamental ...

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