01 March 2016

CST363 Week 0

We covered the concepts behind database design, in particular the various keys. I have always had a problem understanding the conceptual keys, but I did find a helpful video at https://youtu.be/dYNw9Va7AtM.

  • A Super key is any combination of fields within a table that uniquely identifies each record within that table.
  • A Candidate key is a subset of a super key. A candidate key is a single field or the least combination of fields that uniquely identifies each record in the table. The least combination of fields distinguishes a candidate key from a super key. Every table must have at least one candidate key but at the same time can have several.
  • A Primary key is a candidate key that is most appropriate to be the main reference key for the table. As its name suggests, it is the primary key of reference for the table and is used throughout the database to help establish relationships with other tables. As with any candidate key the primary key must contain unique values, must never be null and uniquely identify each record in the table.
  • A Foreign key is generally a primary key from one table that appears as a field in another where the first table has a relationship to the second. In other words, if we had a table A with a primary key X that linked to a table B where X was a field in B, then X would be a foreign key in B.
  • A table may have one or more choices for the primary key. Collectively these are known as candidate keys. One is selected as the primary key. Those not selected are known as Secondary keys or alternative keys.
  • A Compound key consists of more than one field to uniquely identify a record. A compound key is distinguished from a composite key because each field, which makes up the primary key, is also a simple key in its own right.
  • A Composite key consists of more than one field to uniquely identify a record. This differs from a compound key in that one or more of the attributes, which make up the key, are not simple keys in their own right.
If that makes your brain hurt, don't worry, it makes mine hurt as well. Luckily practice makes this easier to understand than just explaining it.

Continued on Week 1

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