Re: Foreign keys

From: Kira Yamato <>
Date: Wed, 16 Jan 2008 02:45:39 -0500
Message-ID: <2008011602453916807-kirakun_at_earthlinknet>

On 2008-01-16 01:11:22 -0500, "Brian Selzer" <> said:

> "Kira Yamato" <> wrote in message
> news:2008011600092016807-kirakun_at_earthlinknet...

>> On 2008-01-15 22:05:24 -0500, "Brian Selzer" <>
>> said:
>> In relational algebra, say I have a relation Person(Name, Age).  Then
>> there is functional dependency
>> Name --> Age.
>> Now, the domain for Age can be any non-negative integer.  However, the
>> extensional relation will not have a tuple for every possible value of
>> Age.

> [...]
>> Are you saying that Name --> Age is not a functional dependency because it
>> is not surjective?

> No. What I'm saying is that not only is it the case that for every Name in
> the extension there is one and only one Age, but also that whenever there is
> an Age in the extension, there must also be a Name. This is due to the fact
> that Name and Age appear in the same relation schema. So in that sense
> Name --> Age /is/ surjective.
> I keep wanting to mention active domains, and for a database with a single
> relation, it would be valid to say that Name --> Age describes a surjection
> between the active domain for Name and the active domain for Age, but for
> databases with multiple relations, an active domain is the set of all values
> from a domain that are in any relation in the database.

Ok. I'm beginning to see your point.

So, in the case of a single relation, the surjectivity holds trivially from the definition of functional dependency.

However, in the case of foreign key where 2 relations are involved, the foreign key does not necessarily maps to every possible primary key in the other relation. So, it is possible to not have surjectivity between attributes across 2 relations.

So, I do have one more question. Why do we want to require functional dependencies to be surjective? What desirable property of relational algebra do we lose if we introduct functional dependencies that are not surjective?



Received on Wed Jan 16 2008 - 08:45:39 CET

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