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Database Design and Relational Theory by C.J. Date

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Appendix C. Historical Notes

History is not what you thought. It is what you can remember.

W. C. Sellar and R. J. Yeatman: 1066 and All That

This appendix presents a brief and not unbiased survey of some of the seminal research publications in the field of design theory. The publications in question are listed in chronological order, more or less.

The relational model as such had its origins in two landmark papers by Codd:

  • E. F. Codd: “Derivability, Redundancy, and Consistency of Relations Stored in Large Data Banks,” IBM Research Report RJ599 (August 19th, 1969) and elsewhere.

  • E. F. Codd: “A Relational Model of Data for Large Shared Data Banks,” CACM 13, No. 6 (June 1970); republished in Milestones of Research—Selected Papers 1958-1982 (CACM 25th Anniversary Issue), CACM 26, No. 1 (January 1983) and elsewhere.

The first of these papers has nothing to say about design per se. The second, however, includes a section with the title “Normal Form” that includes the following tantalizing remarks: “Further operations of a normalizing kind are possible. These are not discussed in this paper.” These remarks appear following an example that shows how to eliminate relation valued attributes (see the answer to Exercise 12.8 in Appendix D); that’s why Codd uses the phrase “further operations” (emphasis added).

Incidentally, the second of the foregoing papers is the source of the term connection trap (see Chapter 9).

Design theory as such began with Codd’s introduction of FDs, 2NF, and 3NF in:

  • E.F. ...

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