Database Design Theory?

Ross Werner ross at
Wed Nov 9 09:30:21 MST 2005

On Wed, 9 Nov 2005, Dave Smith wrote:
> To answer the question about the state of BYU's CS 452 class:
> My experience with BYU's CS 452 was a bit different than some of the other
> posters. We did focus heavily on theory, all the way up to 5th Normal
> Form, Prolog, and other "deep theory" stuff. However, our lab assignments
> consisted of some serious Oracle SQL. We were given English statements
> like "Find all the flights that do such and such after leaving through two
> consecutive airports in New York with a crew of less than 7." They were
> non-trivial. During the course of the semester, we had to craft about 60
> hairy Oracle SQL statements (mostly SELECTs), including recursive SQL.

Can you confirm or deny this idea (that I heard many times):
most [if not all] of the "hairy SQL statements" in the assignments were 
hairy only because of arbitrary constraints (e.g. not being allowed to use 
"GROUP BY" or various other things that you'd use in "the real world" when 
trying to find the same data).

That's useful for theory, but I think it gives you entirely the wrong 
sense of what's important in the real world. Did you see this sort of 
thing at all? Or did most of the "hairy SQL statements" end up being 
exactly how you would implement the same thing in "the real world"?

 	~ Ross

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