Why This Terminology Is Important

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Relational database design has its own unique set of terms, just as any other profession, trade, or discipline. Here are three good reasons why it's important for you to learn these terms.

  1. They are used to express and define the special ideas and concepts of the relational database model. Much of the terminology is derived from the mathematical branches of set theory and first-order predicate logic, which, as you already know, form the basis of the relational database model.

  2. They are used to express and define the database-design process itself. The design process becomes clearer and much easier to understand once you know these terms.

  3. They are used anywhere a relational database or RDBMS is discussed. You'll see these terms in publications such as trade magazines, RDBMS software manuals, educational course materials, and commercial RDBMS software books. You'll also hear these terms in conversations between various types of database practitioners.

This chapter covers a majority of the terms used to define the ideas and concepts of the design process, and each term is defined and discussed in some detail. (I provide pertinent details or necessary further discussion for a given term at the point where the term is expressly used within a specific technique in the design process.) There are several other terms that I introduce and discuss later in the book because they are more easily understood within the context of the specific idea or concept to which they relate.


The glossary contains concise definitions for all of the terms presented here and throughout the book.

There are four categories of terms defined in this chapter: value-related, structure-related, relationship-related, and integrity-related.


Part II: The Design Process