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Joe Celko's Data, Measurements and Standards in SQL by Joe Celko

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Chapter 3. Data Encoding Schemes
You do not put data directly into a database. You convert it into an encoding scheme first and then put the encoding into the rows of the tables. Words have to be written in an alphabet and belong to a language or a limited vocabulary; measurements are expressed as numbers. We are so used to seeing words and numbers that we no longer think of them as encoding schemes. We also often fail to distinguish among the possible ways to identify (and therefore to encode) an entity or property. Do we encode the person receiving medical services or the policy that is paying for them? That might depend on whether the database is for the doctor or for the insurance company. Do we encode the first title of a song, the alternate ...

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