Re: design question

From: <>
Date: Fri, 17 Oct 2008 04:06:15 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID: <>

JOG wrote:
> On Oct 17, 9:26 am, wrote:
> > > PARTS:
> > > part,
> > > product_type, ...
> > > PRIMARY KEY(part, product_type)
> >
> > Actually parts cannot exist by themselves, that�s why there is a
> > composite key {product, part} in �product_parts�.
> Not sure that is a concern - just read the external predicate for
> PARTS as being "p is a possible part of product_type t". It doesn't
> require that parts should exist seperately.

Agree, but not practical. It means to populate the relation with all possible values (for example “eth0”, “eth1”, … “eth9999”). If the parts aren’t known apriori is better to add them when known and in the context they apear (as part of a composite key).

> > Well, the only declarative option is foreign key, because the DBMS
> > does not support constraints. The other variant is using triggers.
> > Anyway, I� am not looking for an implementation detail, it is more a
> > philosophical problem.
> In that case the answer is declarative constraints. RM is just math. A
> relvar has a set of possible relation instances as its domain. The
> stated predicate of any relvar hence defines the intension of that set
> of relations, and constraints may be viewed as being part of that
> intension, defining what is possible.
> >
> > This design was created with DKNF (Domain-Key Normal Form) in mind.
> > Perhaps we should move the discussion in more theoretical areas, such
> > as using foreign references on composite keys, or sacrificing
> > functional dependencies in favour of DKNF.
> >
> > Looking at �product_parts� relation we can see that there is a partial
> > dependence on the composite key , �product� -> �product_type�. However
> > if we think about {product_type, part_type} as a whole (since is a
> > reference to a composite key), it may be said that {product, part} ->
> > {product_type, part_type}. But still not satisfying 2NF definition.
> >
> > Using foreign references on composite keys may eventually lead to
> > situations like this. In this example, the variant of using a separate
> > relation for part_type (just a dumb list of part_type names) just for
> > using a foreign key to a non-composite key is artificial since no
> > �part_type� has any significance outside a context of a
> > �product_type�. So, should we refrain on using foreign references on
> > composite keys and rely on other types of constraints instead?
> >
> > Or sould we go for alternative design methods such as DKNF?
> > Unfortunately there is very little material about DKNF (I first heard
> > about DKNF about one year ago in a discussion on this group), and
> > haven�t seen many designs using it.
> There's probably a reason for that ;) Regards, J.

Well, a foreign key is a kind of poor-man’s constraint in absence of other declarative support. So, we end up with guess what? A combination between DKNF and (partially broken) normal forms.

I hate to choose between two evils. And unfortunately this is often the case in implementing relational databases with pseudo-relational DBMSs. Received on Fri Oct 17 2008 - 13:06:15 CEST

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