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c.d.theory glossary 0.0.1

From: mAsterdam <>
Date: Sun, 25 Apr 2004 01:10:21 +0200
Message-ID: <408af3e3$0$575$>

Here is another start.
If it is appreciated, I'll post the glossary once in a while.


This glossary seeks to limit lengthy misunderstandings in comp.database.theory.

People tend to assume that words mean what they are accustomed to, and take for granted that the other posters have about the same connotations. They don't always.

Some words are particularly suspect: database, object, normalisation. Some just cause minor annoyances, the misunderstanding is cleared and the discussion goes on: domain, type, transaction.

We don't know well-accepted, formal or comprehensive definitions for everything. If you do have a useful reference, please provide it.

If an informal description is all we have, so be it.


The glossary is not a dictionary or encyclopedia, such as FOLDOC, Wikipedia (, and the Web Dictionary of Cybernetics and Systems.
Specific links to serve the glossary's purpose are welcome, of course. Also, it does not try to be a FAQ for "all things database".


Contributions from within this group are not credited, quotes from elsewhere are. This is no ironclad rule. It is just that the first contributors like it that way.
As a consequence, to all potential contributors: If you want your name stated please say so.

Note to native english speakers:
Please also check spelling and grammar mistaeks.


A class is what provides a name and a place for the abstract behavior of a set of objects said to belong to the class. (Larry Wall, Apocalypse 12)


1. Deluxe filesystem
2. Shared databank (E. Codd)


Thing of interest. (ISO)


For now we have to live with *very different* meanings of _function_ when talking about databases: "The function of this function is to get the tuples from B that are functionally dependant on A." Please be specific.

  1. A binary mathematical relation with at most one b for each a in (a,b).
  2. A many-to-one relation of ordered pairs that maps each a to a unique b. It is important to note that every function is, by definition, a relation.
  3. purpose/use
  4. subroutine/procudure/method

[MultiValue, MV]

1. One name for the industry surrounding the Nelson-Pick data model.

2. A data field (or attribute) defined to permit a variable number of values as a list (array).

[NULL] The insanity bit. No! The humility marker.
mu: The absence of an answer to a question which requires an answer.

1. Attributes to something the absence of values.

         Ex: "The *null* set is the empty set, often represented by {}."

/n. colloq./
1. A noted appearance of the absence of values.

         Ex: "This table contains *nulls*."

Common usage:

In databases traditionally NULL is used and and opposed. If you want to go into this, please first search for mu NIL void NULL undef, 2VL 3VL.

"It isn't the things we don't know that give us trouble. It's the things we know that ain't so." - Will Rogers


1. Something intelligible or perceptible by the mind. 2. Model of an entity, characterised by behaviour and state. (ISO)


Normalize (There are some notes by Dawn) Persistence

Feel free to post suggestions to add or remove.

[[Maybe Todo]]

Necessary? Though obviously possible,
I haven't seen misunderstandings,
just strong opinions regarding these:

Formal Theory

Thank you for contributing.

Milestones? For the glossary I prefer inch-pebbles. Received on Sat Apr 24 2004 - 18:10:21 CDT

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