Module 2: The Relational Model I

CMPS 160: Databases


The foundation of most databases is the relational model. If you have ever used a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel you are familiar with the table format. In addition, spreadsheet software can have references from one cell, row, or column to other cells, rows, or columns. Databases mimic this structure but there are very important differences that this module will emphasize. In essence, databases enforce strict rules in terms of what data can stored in each row (record), column (field), and what can reference what. This is the relational model. A useful rule of thumb is that any redundant information in the data model or database design indicates a mistake.

Module Objectives

  • Learn the conceptual foundation of the relational model
  • Understand how relation differ from nonrelational tables
  • Learn basic relational terminology
  • Learn the meaning and importance of keys, foreign keys, and related terminology
  • Understand how foreign keys represent relationships
  • Learn the purpose and use of surrogate keys
  • Learn the meaning of functional dependencies
  • Learn to apply a process for normalizing relations

Learning Resources

  • Module 2 Readings: Chapter 2 (first half)
  • Module 2 Slides: Chapter 2 (first half)

Learning Activities

For Further Study

It is highly recommended to work through the exercises at the end of the chapter, specifically:

  • 2.4 and 2.5
  • 2.10 and 2.11
  • 2.18
  • 2.20
  • 2.21 and 2.22

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