Re: two nasty schemata, union types and surrogate keys

From: Brian <>
Date: Tue, 22 Sep 2009 07:13:14 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID: <>

On Sep 22, 2:41 am, Roy Hann <specia..._at_processed.almost.meat> wrote:
> Brian wrote:
> > >> > Whatever.  What is in the database is supposed to be true.  
> >> >> Says who?  
> >> > Everyone who advocates the closed world assumption.
> >> The closed world assumption doesn't tell you anything about what is
> >> actually in the database; it tells you how you are entitled to
> >> manipulate what you find in the database.  I hinted at that in
> >> my first post when I wrote "All that matters is that we can make the
> >> inferences that we should be entitled to make from the assertions."
> > You're wrong, of course, but don't take my word for it.  According to
> > Date in /An Introduction to Database Systems, Eighth Edition/, page
> > 161: 'the Closed World Assumption (also known as the Closed World
> > Interpretation) says that if an otherwise valid tuple--that is, one
> > that conforms to the relvar heading--does /not/ appear in the body of
> > the relvar, then we can assume the corresponding proposition is
> > false.  In other words, the body of the relvar at any given time
> > contains /all/ and /only/ the tuples that correspond to true
> > propositions at that time.'  So the closed world assumption tells us
> > that what is actually in the database is supposed to be true, while
> > what is not is supposed to be false.
> Far be it from me to contradict Date, but there is no way on earth that
> he intended us to take that to mean "Garabage In, Garbage Out" doesn't
> apply to databases.  Date is just telling us the limits of how we are
> entitled to manipulate the database and--less directly--what the
> consequences of violating 5NF are.  
> --
> Roy- Hide quoted text -
> - Show quoted text -

I didn't say that "Garbage In, Garbage Out" doesn't apply to databases. But if I don't suppose that what is in the database is true, then there's no point in even having a database. Any conclusion drawn from information that is not supposed to be true is unsound: valid conclusions cannot be a consequence of false premises. So it is only by supposing that the premises are true that any conclusions can be drawn at all. The closed world assumption increases the number of conclusions that can be drawn in the same way that the law of the excluded middle increases the number of inferences that can be made, but even under the open world interpretation, what is in the database is supposed to be true.

What does the closed world assumption have to do with violating 5NF? Received on Tue Sep 22 2009 - 16:13:14 CEST

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