Chapter 2. Prerequisites

The world is everything that is the case

Ludwig Wittgenstein: Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

You’re supposed to be a database professional, by which I mean someone who (a) is a database practitioner and (b) has a reasonable degree of familiarity with relational theory. Please note that—I’m sorry to have to say this, but it’s true—a knowledge of SQL, no matter how deep, is not sufficient to satisfy part (b) of this requirement. As I said in SQL and Relational Theory:

I’m sure you know something about SQL; but—and I apologize for the possibly offensive tone here—if your knowledge of the relational model derives only from your knowledge of SQL, then I’m afraid you won’t know the relational model as well as you should, and you’ll probably know some things that ain’t so. I can’t say it too strongly: SQL and the relational model aren’t the same thing.

The purpose of this chapter, then, is to tell you some things I hope you already know. If you do, then the chapter will serve as a refresher; if you don’t, then I hope it’ll serve as an adequate tutorial. More specifically, what I want to do is spell out in some detail certain fundamental aspects of relational theory that I’ll be relying on heavily in the pages ahead. The aspects in question are ones that, in my experience, database practitioners often aren’t aware of (at least, not explicitly). Of course, there are other aspects of relational theory I’ll be relying on as well, but I’ll elaborate on those, if I think ...

Get Database Design and Relational Theory now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.