Re: Date's First Great Blunder

From: Anthony W. Youngman <>
Date: Thu, 22 Apr 2004 22:38:15 +0100
Message-ID: <>

In message <TKchc.805$>, Eric Kaun <> writes
>> I've searched -- I haven't found them. My assessment is that there
>> certainly could have been a person who uttered the words "hierarchical
>> database" when talking about IMS prior to 1970, but so far I have not
>> anything in writing referring to hierarchical or network database prior to
>> Codd's 1970 ACM paper. I suspect it is historically accurate that
>> relational theorists coined these terms or at least standardized on them
>> discussions of why relational was a better strategy. If someone has
>> evidence to the contrary, I'm very interested.
>I don't have any evidence either way, but I would imagine the relationalists
>could have found better rhetorical and disparaging terms than "hierarchical"
>and "network". Neither of those terms suggests anything on its own, nor is
>either one inaccurate in any significant way (as far as I know).

It is a *standard* rhetorical technique to highlight what you perceive as weakness in the opposition, and compare it to your strengths.

One of the strengths of relational is that "all queries are equal" - the database is optimised so that you can ask any question with equal ease. By their very nature, hierarchical databases are best with queries whose structure matches the structure of the database.

So the terms are not "disparaging", as you put it, but are designed by the relational camp to emphasise those features that the relational camp WISH to emphasise - those features that the relational camp see as placing hierarchical databases at a disadvantage.

ALL descriptions are loaded - that's the nature of language. Dawn is simply trying to place the words in their historical context and comprehend the impact they had then - a very difficult task when your vision is obscured by hindsight ...


Anthony W. Youngman - wol at thewolery dot demon dot co dot uk
HEX wondered how much he should tell the Wizards. He felt it would not be a
good idea to burden them with too much input. Hex always thought of his reports
as Lies-to-People.
The Science of Discworld : (c) Terry Pratchett 1999
Received on Thu Apr 22 2004 - 23:38:15 CEST

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