Database Normalization

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In relational database design, we not only want to create a structure that stores all of the data, but we also want to do it in a way that minimize potential errors when we work with the data. The default language for accessing data from a relational database is SQL. In particular, SQL can be used to manipulate data in the following ways: insert new data, delete unwanted data, and update existing data. Similarly, in an un-normalized design, there are 3 problems that can occur when we work with the data:

INSERT ANOMALY: This refers to the situation when it is impossible to insert certain types of data into the database.

DELETE ANOMALY: The deletion of data leads to unintended loss of additional data, data that we had wished to preserve.

UPDATE ANOMALY: This refers to the situation where updating the value of a column leads to database inconsistencies (i.e., different rows on the table have different values).

To address the 3 problems above, we go through the process of normalization. When we go through the normalization process, we increase the number of tables in the database, while decreasing the amount of data stored in each table. There are several different levels of database normalization:

The opposite of normalization is denormalization, where we want to combine multiple tables together into a larger table. Denormalization is most frequently associated with designing the fact table in a data warehouse.

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