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Information Retrieval P.

BAXENDALE, Editor
A Relational Model of Data
Large Shared Data Banks
E. F. CODD
I BM Research Laboratory, San Jose, California
for
Future users of large data banks must be protected from
having to know how the data is organized in the machine (the
internal representation). A prompting service which supplies
such information is not a satisfactory solution. Activities of users
at terminals and most application programs should remain
unaffected when the internal representation of data is changed
and even when some aspects of the external representation
are changed. Changes in data representation will often be
needed as a result of changes in query, update, and report
traffic and natural growth in the types of stored information.
Existing noninferential, formatted data systems provide users
with tree-structured files or slightly more general network
models of the data. In Section 1, inadequacies of these models
are discussed. A model based on n-ary relations, a normal
form for data base relations, and the concept of a universal
data sublanguage are introduced. In Section 2, certain opera-
tions on relations (other than logical inference) are discussed
and applied to the problems of redundancy and consistency
in the user's model.
KEY WORDS AND PHRASES: data bank, data base, data structure, data
organization, hierarchies of data, networks of data, relations, derivability,
redundancy, consistency, composition, join, retrieval language, predicate
calculus, security, data integrity
CR CATEGORIES: 3.70, 3.73, 3.75, 4.20, 4.22, 4.29
1. Rel at i onal Model and Nor mal For m
1.1. INTRODUCTION
This paper is concerned with the application of ele-
mentary relation theory to systems which provide shared
access to large banks of formatted data. Except for a paper
by Childs [1], the principal application of relations to data
systems has been to deductive question-answering systems.
Levein and Maron [2] provide numerous references to work
in this area.
In contrast, the problems treated here are those of data
independence--the independence of application programs
and terminal activities from growth in data types and
changes in data representation--and certain kinds of data
inconsistency which are expected to become troublesome
even in nondeductive systems.
Vol ume 13 / Number 6 / J une, 1970
The relational view (or model) of data described in
Section 1 appears to be superior in several respects to the
graph or network model [3, 4] presently in vogue for non-
inferential systems. It provides a means of describing data
with its natural structure onl y--t hat is, without superim-
posing any additional structure for machine representation
purposes. Accordingly, it provides a basis for a high level
data language which will yield maximal independence be-
tween programs on the one hand and machine representa-
tion and organization of data on the other.
A further advantage of the relational view is t hat it
forms a sound basis for treating derivability, redundancy,
and consistency of relations--these are discussed in Section
2. The network model, on the other hand, has spawned a
number of confusions, not the least of which is mistaking
the derivation of connections for the derivation of rela-
tions (see remarks in Section 2 on the "connection trap").
Finally, the relational view permits a clearer evaluation
of the scope and logical limitations of present formatted
data systems, and also the relative merits (from a logical
standpoint) of competing representations of data within a
single system. Examples of this clearer perspective are
cited in various parts of this paper. Implementations of
systems to support the relational model are not discussed.
1.2. DATA DEPENDENCIES IN PRESENT SYSTEMS
The provision of data description tables in recently de-
veloped information systems represents a major advance
toward the goal of data independence [5, 6, 7]. Such tables
facilitate changing certain characteristics of the data repre-
sentation stored in a data bank. However, the variety of
data representation characteristics which can be changed
without logically impairing some application programs is
still quite limited. Further, the model of data with which
users interact is still cluttered with representational prop-
erties, particularly in regard to the representation of col-
lections of data (as opposed to individual items). Three of
the principal kinds of data dependencies which still need
to be removed are: ordering dependence, indexing depend-
ence, and access path dependence. In some systems these
dependencies are not clearly separable from one another.
1.2.1. Ordering Dependence. Elements of data in a
data bank may be stored in a variety of ways, some involv-
ing no concern for ordering, some permitting each element
to participate in one ordering only, others permitting each
element to participate in several orderings. Let us consider
those existing systems which either require or permit data
elements to be stored in at least one total ordering which is
closely associated with the hardware-determined ordering
of addresses. For example, the records of a file concerning
parts might be stored in ascending order by part serial
number. Such systems normally permit application pro-
grams to assume t hat the order of presentation of records
from such a file is identical to (or is a subordering of) the
Communi c at i ons of t he ACM 377
stored ordering. Those application programs which take
advantage of the stored ordering of a file are likely to fail
to operate correctly if for some reason it becomes necessary
to replace t hat ordering by a different one. Similar remarks
hold for a stored ordering implemented by means of
pointers.
It is unnecessary to single out any system as an example,
because all the well-known information systems t hat are
marketed today fail to make a clear distinction between
order of presentation on the one hand and stored ordering
on the other. Significant implementation problems must be
solved to provide this kind of independence.
1.2.2. Indexing Dependence. In the context of for-
matted data, an index is usually thought of as a purely
performance-oriented component of the data representa-
tion. It tends to improve response to queries and updates
and, at the same time, slow down response to insertions
and deletions. From an informational standpoint, an index
is a redundant component of the data representation. If a
system uses indices at all and if it is to perform well in an
environment with changing patterns of activity on the data
bank, an ability to create and destroy indices from time to
time will probably be necessary. The question then arises:
Can application programs and terminal activities remain
invariant as indices come and go?
Present formatted data systems take widely different
approaches to indexing. TDMS [7] unconditionally pro-
vides indexing on all attributes. The presently released
version of IMS [5] provides the user with a choice for each
file: a choice between no indexing at all (the hierarchic se-
quential organization) or indexing on the primary key
only (the hierarchic indexed sequential organization). In
neither case is the user's application logic dependent on the
existence of the unconditionally provided indices. IDS
[8], however, permits the file designers to select attributes
to be indexed and to incorporate indices into the file struc-
ture by means of additional chains. Application programs
talcing advantage of the performance benefit of these in-
dexing chains must refer to those chains by name. Such pro-
grams do not operate correctly if these chains are later
removed.
1.2.3. Access Path Dependence. Many of the existing
formatted data systems provide users with tree-structured
files or slightly more general network models of the data.
Application programs developed to work with these sys-
tems tend to be logically impaired if the trees or networks
are changed in structure. A simple example follows.
Suppose the data bank contains information about parts
and projects. For each part, the part number, part name,
part description, quantity-on-hand, and quantity-on-order
are recorded. For each project, the project number, project
name, project description are recorded. Whenever a project
makes use of a certain part, the quantity of t hat part com-
mitted to the given project is also recorded. Suppose t hat
the system requires the user or file designer to declare or
define the data in terms of tree structures. Then, any one
of the hierarchical structures may be adopted for the infor-
mation mentioned above (see Structures 1-5).
Structure 1.
F ile Segment
F PART
PROJECT
Projects Subordinate to Part s
Pl dds
part #
part name
part description
quant i t y-on-hand
quantity-on-order
project #
project name
project description
quant i t y committed
Structure 2.
F ile Segment
F PROJECT
P A R T
Part s Subordinate to Projects
gi dds
project #
project name
project description
part #
part name
part description
quant i t y-on-hand
quant i t y-on-order
quant i t y committed
Structure 3. Part s and Projects as Peers
Commitment Relationship Subordinate to Projects
F ile Segmen~ F ields
F PART part #
part name
part description
quant i t y-on-hand
quant i t y-on-order
G PROJECT project #
project name
project description
PART part #
quant i t y committed
Structure 4. Part s and Projects as Peers
Commitment Relationship Subordinate to Part s
F ile Segment F i dds
P P A R T part #
part description
quant i t y-on-hand
quant i t y-on-order
PROJECT project #
quant i t y committed
G PROJECT project #
project name
project description
Structure 5. Part s, Projects, and
Commitment Relationship as Peers
F ~¢ Segment F ields
F PART part #
part name
part description
quant i t y-on-hand
quantity-on-order
G PROJECT project #
project name
project description
H COMMIT part #
project #
quant i t y committed
378 Communi c at i ons of t he ACM Vol ume 13 / Numb er 6 / J une, 1970
Now, consider t he probl em of pri nt i ng out t he par t
number, par t name, and quant i t y commi t t ed for every par t
used in t he proj ect whose proj ect name is "al pha. " The
following observat i ons may be made regardless of which
available tree-oriented i nformat i on syst em is selected t o
tackle this problem. I f a pr ogr am P is developed for this
probl em assuming one of t he five st ruct ures above- - t hat
is, P makes no t est to det ermi ne which st ruct ure is in ef-
f e c t - t he n P will fail on at least t hree of t he remai ni ng
structures. More specifically, if P succeeds with st ruct ure 5,
it will fail with all t he others; if P succeeds with st ruct ure 3
or 4, it will fail wi t h at least 1, 2, and 5; if P succeeds wi t h
1 or 2, it will fail with at least 3, 4, and 5. The reason is
simple in each case. I n t he absence of a t est to det ermi ne
which st ruct ure is in effect, P fails because an at t empt is
made t o execute a reference to a nonexistent file (available
syst ems t r eat this as an error) or no at t empt is made to
execute a reference to a file containing needed information.
The reader who is not convinced should develop sampl e
programs for this simple problem.
Since, in general, it is not practical to develop applica-
tion programs which t est for all tree st ruct uri ngs permi t t ed
by t he syst em, these programs fail when a change in
st ruct ure becomes necessary.
Syst ems which provi de users wi t h a net work model of
t he dat a run into similar difficulties. I n bot h t he tree and
net work cases, t he user (or his pr ogr am) is required to
exploit a collection of user access pat hs to t he dat a. I t does
not mat t er whet her these pat hs are in close correspondence
with pointer-defined pat hs in t he stored r epr esent at i on- - i n
I DS t he correspondence is ext remel y simple, in TDMS it is
j ust t he opposite. The consequence, regardless of t he stored
representation, is t hat t ermi nal activities and programs be-
come dependent on t he continued existence of t he user
access pat hs.
One solution to this is to adopt t he policy t ha t once a
user access pat h is defined it will not be made obsolete un-
til all application programs using t hat pat h have become
obsolete. Such a policy is not practical, because t he number
of access pat hs in t he t ot al model for t he communi t y of
users of a dat a bank would event ual l y become excessively
large.
1.3. A RELATIONAL VIEW OF DATA
The t er m relation is used here in its accepted mat he-
mat i cal sense. Gi ven sets $1, $2, • • • , S~ (not necessarily
di st i nct ), R is a relation on these n sets if it is a set of n-
tuples each of which has its first el ement from S~, its
second element from $2, and so on. 1 We shall refer t o $i as
t he j t h domain of R. As defined above, R is said to have
degree n. Relations of degree 1 are often called unary, de-
gree 2 binary, degree 3 ternary, and degree n n-ary.
For expository reasons, we shall frequent l y make use of
an array represent at i on of relations, but it must be re-
membered t hat this part i cul ar represent at i on is not an es-
sential par t of t he relational view being expounded. An ar-
i More concisely, R is a subset of the Cartesian product $1 X
S~X "' " X S..
r ay which represent s an n- ar y relation R has t he following
properties:
(1) Each row represents an n-t upl e of R.
(2) The ordering of rows is i mmat eri al .
(3) All rows are distinct.
(4) The ordering of columns is si gni fi cant --i t corre-
sponds to t he ordering S~, $2, - . - , S~ of t he do-
mai ns on which R is defined (see, however, remarks
below on domai n-ordered and domai n-unordered
relations ).
(5) The significance of each column is part i al l y con-
veyed by labeling i t wi t h t he name of t he corre-
sponding domain.
The exampl e in Fi gure 1 illustrates a relation of degree
4, called supply, which reflects t he shipments-in-progress
of part s from specified suppliers t o specified projects in
specified quantities.
supply (supplier part project quantity)
1 2 5 17
1 3 5 23
2 3 7 9
2 7 5 4
4 1 1 12
FIG. 1. A relation of degree 4
One mi ght ask: I f t he columns are labeled by t he name
of corresponding domains, why should t he ordering of col-
umns mat t er? As t he exampl e in Fi gure 2 shows, t wo col-
umns may have identical headings (indicating identical
domai ns) but possess distinct meanings with respect to t he
relation. The relation depicted is called component. I t is a
t er nar y relation, whose first t wo domai ns are called part
and t hi rd domai n is called quantity. The meani ng of com-
ponent (x, y, z) is t hat par t x is an i mmedi at e component
(or subassembl y) of par t y, and z units of par t x are needed
to assemble one uni t of par t y. I t is a relation which plays
a critical role in t he part s explosion probl em.
component (part part quantity)
1 5 9
2 5 7
3 5 2
2 6 12
3 6 3
4 7 1
6 7 1
FiG. 2. A relation with two identical domains
I t is a remarkabl e fact t hat several existing i nformat i on
syst ems (chiefly those based on t ree-st ruct ured files) fail
to provi de dat a represent at i ons for relations which have
t wo or more identical domains. The present version of
I MS/ 360 [5] is an exampl e of such a syst em.
The t ot al i t y of dat a in a dat a bank may be viewed as a
collection of t i me-varyi ng relations. These relations are of
assorted degrees. As t i me progresses, each n- ar y relation
may be subj ect t o insertion of additional n-tuples, deletion
of existing ones, and al t erat i on of component s of any of its
existing n-tuples.
Vol ume 13 / Numb er 6 / J une, 1970 Communi c at i ons of t he ACM 3 7 9
I n many commercial, governmental, and scientific dat a
banks, however, some of t he relations are of quite high de-
gree (a degree of 30 is not at all uncommon). Users should
not normal l y be burdened with remembering t he domai n
ordering of any relation (for example, t he ordering supplier,
t hen part, t hen project, t hen quantity in t he relation supply).
Accordingly, we propose t hat users deal, not with relations
which are domain-ordered, but with relationships which are
t hei r domain-unordered counterparts. 2 To accomplish this,
domains must be uni quel y identifiable at least within any
given relation, wi t hout using position. Thus, where t here
are two or more identical domains, we require in each case
t hat t he domain name be qualified by a distinctive role
name, which serves to i dent i fy t he role pl ayed by t hat
domain in t he given relation. For example, in t he relation
component of Figure 2, t he first domain part mi ght be
qualified by t he role name sub, and t he second by super, so
t hat users could deal with t he relationship component and
its domains--sub.part super.part, quantity--without regard
to any ordering between these domains.
To sum up, i t is proposed t hat most users should i nt eract
with a relational model of t he dat a consisting of a collection
of t i me-varyi ng relationships (rather t han relations). Each
user need not know more about any relationship t han its
name t oget her with t he names of its domains (role quali-
fied whenever necessary).3 Even this i nformat i on mi ght be
offered in menu style by t he syst em (subject to security
and pri vacy constraints) upon request by t he user.
There are usually many al t ernat i ve ways in which a re-
lational model may be established for a dat a bank. I n
order to discuss a preferred way (or normal form), we
must first introduce a few additional concepts (active
domain, pri mary key, foreign key, nonsimple domai n)
and establish some links with t ermi nol ogy current l y in use
in i nformat i on systems programming. I n t he remainder of
this paper, we shall not bot her t o distinguish bet ween re-
lations and relationships except where it appears advan-
tageous to be explicit.
Consider an example of a dat a bank which includes rela-
tions concerning parts, projects, and suppliers. One rela-
t i on called part is defined on t he following domains:
(1) part number
(2) part name
(3) part color
(4) part weight
(5) quant i t y on hand
(6) quant i t y on order
and possibly ot her domains as well. Each of these domains
is, in effect, a pool of values, some or all of which may be
represented in t he dat a bank at any instant. While it is
conceivable t hat , at some instant, all par t colors are pres-
ent, i t is unlikely t hat all possible part weights, par t
In mathematical terms, a relationship is an equivalence class of
those relations that are equivalent under permutation of domains
(see Section 2.1.1).
Naturally, as with any data put into and retrieved from a com-
puter system, the user will normally make far more effective use
of the data if he is aware of its meaning.
names, and part numbers are. We shall call t he set of
values represented at some i nst ant t he active domain at t hat
instant.
Normally, one domain (or combination of domai ns) of a
given relation has values which uniquely i dent i fy each ele-
ment (n-tuple) of t hat relation. Such a domai n (or com-
bi nat i on) is called a primary key. I n t he example above,
par t number would be a pri mary key, while part color
would not be. A pri mary key is nonredundant if it is either
a simple domai n (not a combi nat i on) or a combination
such t hat none of t he participating simple domains is
superfluous in uniquely identifying each element. A rela-
tion may possess more t han one nonredundant pri mary
key. This would be t he case in t he example if different part s
were always given distinct names. Whenever a relation
has two or more nonredundant pri mary keys, one of t hem
is arbi t rari l y selected and called the pri mary key of t hat re-
lation.
A common requi rement is for elements of a relation to
cross-reference ot her elements of t he same relation or ele-
ment s of a different relation. Keys provide a user-oriented
means (but not t he only means) of expressing such cross-
references. We shall call a domai n (or domai n combina-
t i on) of relation R a foreign key if i t is not t he pri mary key
of R but its elements are values of t he pri mary key of some
relation S (the possibility t hat S and R are identical is not
excluded). I n t he relation supply of Figure 1, t he combina-
tion of supplier, part, project is t he pri mary key, while each
of these t hree domains t aken separat el y is a foreign key.
I n previous work t here has been a strong t endency to
t r eat t he dat a in a dat a bank as consisting of two parts, one
part consisting of ent i t y descriptions (for example, descrip-
tions of suppliers) and t he ot her part consisting of rela-
tions between t he various entities or t ypes of entities (for
example, t he supply relation). This distinction is difficult
to mai nt ai n when one may have foreign keys in any rela-
tion whatsoever. I n t he user' s relational model t here ap-
pears to be no advant age to making such a distinction
(there may be some advant age, however, when one applies
relational concepts to machine representations of t he user' s
set of relationships).
So far, we have discussed examples of relations which are
defined on simple domai ns--domai ns whose elements are
atomic (nondecomposable) values. Nonat omi c values can
be discussed within t he relational framework. Thus, some
domains may have relations as elements. These relations
may, in t urn, be defined on nonsimple domains, and so on.
For example, one of t he domains on which t he relation em-
ployee is defined might be salary history. An element of t he
salary hi st ory domai n is a bi nary relation defined on t he do-
main date and t he domai n salary. The salary history domai n
is t he set of all such bi nary relations. At any i nst ant of t i me
t here are as many instances of t he salary history relation
in t he dat a bank as t here are employees. I n contrast, t here
is only one instance of t he employee relation.
The t erms at t ri but e and repeating group in present dat a
base terminology are roughly analogous t o simple domai n
3 8 0 Communi c at i ons of t he ACM Vol ume 13 / Numb er 6 / J une, 1970
and nonsimple domain, respectively. Much of the confusion
in present terminology is due to failure to distinguish be-
tween type and instance (as in "record") and between
components of a user model of the data on the one hand
and their machine representation counterparts on the
other hand (again, we cite "record" as an example).
1.4. NORMAL FORM
A relation whose domains are all simple can be repre-
sented in storage by a two-dimensional column-homo-
geneous array of the kind discussed above. Some more
complicated data structure is necessary for a relation with
one or more nonsimple domains. For this reason (and others
to be cited below) the possibility of eliminating nonsimple
domains appears worth investigating. 4 There is, in fact, a
very simple elimination procedure, which we shall call
normalization.
Consider, for example, the collection of relations ex-
hibited in Figure 3 (a). Job history and children are non-
simple domains of the relation employee. Salary history is a
nonsimple domain of the relation job history. The tree in
Figure 3 (a) shows just these interrelationships of the non-
simple domains.
jobhistory
I
salaryhistory
employee
children
employee (man#, name, birthdate, jobhistory, children)
jobhistory (jobdate, title, salaryhistory)
salaryhistory (salarydate, salary)
children (childname, birthyear)
FIG. 3(a). Unnormalized set
employee' (martS, name, birthdate)
jobhistory' (man#, iobdate, title)
salaryhistory' (man#, iobdate, salarydate, salary)
children' (man#, childname, birthyear)
Fro. 3(b). Normalized set
Normalization proceeds as follows. Starting with the re-
lation at the top of the tree, take its primary key and ex-
pand each of the immediately subordinate relations by
inserting this primary key domain or domain combination.
The primary key of each expanded relation consists of the
primary key before expansion augmented by the primary
key copied down from the parent relation. Now, strike out
from the parent relation all nonsimple domains, remove the
top node of the tree, and repeat the same sequence of
operations on each remaining subtree.
The result of normalizing the collection of relations in
Figure 3 (a) is the collection in Figure 3 (b). The primary
key of each relation is italicized to show how such keys
are expanded by the normalization.
' M. E. Sanko of IBM, San Jose, independently recognized the
desirability of eliminating nonsimple domains.
If normalization as described above is to be applicable,
the unnormalized collection of relations must satisfy the
following conditions:
(1) The graph of interrelationships of the nonsimple
domains is a collection of trees.
(2) No primary key has a component domain which is
nonsimple.
The writer knows of no application which would require
any relaxation of these conditions. Further operations of a
normalizing kind are possible. These are not discussed in
this paper.
The simplicity of the array representation which becomes
feasible when all relations are cast in normal form is not
only an advantage for storage purposes but also for com-
munication of bulk data between systems which use widely
different representations of the data. The communication
form would be a suitably compressed version of the array
representation and would have the following advantages:
(1) It would be devoid of pointers (address-valued or
displacement-valued).
(2) It would avoid all dependence on hash addressing
schemes.
(3) It would contain no indices or ordering lists.
If the user's relational model is set up in normal form,
names of items of data in the data bank can take a simpler
form than would otherwise be the case. A general name
would take a form such as
R (g).r.d
where R is a relational name; g is a generation identifier
(optional); r is a role name (optional); d is a domain name.
Since g is needed only when several generations of a given
relation exist, or are anticipated to exist, and r is needed
only when the relation R has two or more domains named
d, the simple form R.d will often be adequate.
1.5. SOME LINGUISTIC ASPECTS
The adoption of a relational model of data, as described
above, permits the development of a universal data sub-
language based on an applied predicate calculus. A first-
order predicate calculus suffices if the collection of relations
is in normal form. Such a language would provide a yard-
stick of linguistic power for all other proposed data lan-
guages, and would itself be a strong candidate for embed-
ding (with appropriate syntactic modification) in a variety
of host languages (programming, command- or problem-
oriented). While it is not the purpose of this paper to
describe such a language in detail, its salient features
would be as follows.
Let us denote the data sublanguage by R and the host
language by H. R permits the declaration of relations and
their domains. Each declaration of a relation identifies the
primary key for t hat relation. Declared relations are added
to the system catalog for use by any members of the user
community who have appropriate authorization. H per-
mits supporting declarations which indicate, perhaps less
permanently, how these relations are represented in stor-
Vol ume 13 / Number 6 / J une, 1970 Communi cat i ons of t he ACM 3 8 1
age. R permits t he specification for retrieval of any subset
of dat a from t he dat a bank. Action on such a retrieval re-
quest is subject t o security constraints.
The universality of t he dat a sublangnage lies in its
descriptive ability (not its computing ability). In a large
dat a bank each subset of t he dat a has a very large number
of possible (and sensible) descriptions, even when we as-
sume (as we do) t hat t here is only a finite set of function
subroutines t o which t he syst em has access for use in
qualifying dat a for retrieval. Thus, the class of qualification
expressions which can be used in a set specification must
have t he descriptive power of t he class of well-formed
formulas of an applied predicate calculus. I t is well known
t hat t o preserve this descriptive power it is unnecessary t o
express (in what ever synt ax is chosen) every formula of
t he selected predicate calculus. For example, just those in
prenex normal form are adequat e [9].
Arithmetic functions may be needed in t he qualification
or ot her part s of retrieval statements. Such functions can
be defined in H and invoked in R.
A set so specified may be fetched for query purposes
only, or it may be held for possible changes. Insertions t ake
t he form of adding new elements t o declared relations with-
out regard to any ordering t hat may be present in t hei r
machine representation. Deletions which are effective for
t he communi t y (as opposed t o the individual user or sub-
communities) t ake t he form of removing elements from de-
clared relations. Some deletions and updat es may be trig-
gered by others, if deletion and updat e dependencies be-
tween specified relations are declared in R.
One i mport ant effect t hat t he view adopt ed t oward dat a
has on t he language used to retrieve it is in t he naming of
dat a elements and sets. Some aspects of this have been dis-
cussed in t he previous section. Wi t h t he usual net work
view, users will often be burdened with coining and using
more relation names t han are absolutely necessary, since
names are associated with pat hs (or pat h t ypes) rat her
t han with relations.
Once a user is aware t hat a certain relation is stored, he
will expect t o be able to exploit 5 it using any combination
of its arguments as "knowns" and t he remaining argu-
ments as "unknowns, " because t he i nformat i on (like
Everest ) is there. This is a syst em feat ure (missing from
many current i nformat i on syst ems) which we shall call
(logically) symmetric exploitation of relations. Nat ural l y,
symmet r y in performance is not t o be expected.
To support symmet ri c exploitation of a single bi nary re-
lation, two directed pat hs are needed. For a relation of de-
gree n, t he number of pat hs t o be named and controlled is
n factorial.
Again, if a relational view is adopt ed in which every n-
ary relation (n > 2) has to be expressed by t he user as a
nested expression involving only bi nary relations (see
Fel dman' s LEAP Syst em [10], for example) t hen 2n -- 1
names have t o be coined instead of only n -b 1 with direct
n-ary not at i on as described in Section 1.2. For example, t he
5 Exploiting a relation includes query, update, and delete.
4-ary relation supply of Figure 1, which entails 5 names in
n-ary notation, would be represented in t he form
P (supplier, Q (part, R (project, quantity)))
in nested bi nary not at i on and, thus, employ 7 names.
A furt her disadvantage of this kind of expression is its
asymmet ry. Although this asymmet r y does not prohibit
symmet ri c exploitation, it certainly makes some bases of
interrogation ver y awkward for t he user to express (con-
sider, for example, a query for those part s and quantities
related to certain given projects via Q and R) .
1.6. EXPRESSIBLE, NAMED, AND STORED RELATIONS
Associated with a dat a bank are two collections of rela-
tions: t he named set and t he expressible set. The named set
is t he collection of all those relations t hat t he communi t y of
users can i dent i fy by means of a simple name (or identifier).
A relation R acquires membership in t he named set when a
suitably authorized user declares R; it loses membership
when a sui t abl y authorized user cancels t he declaration of
R.
The expressible set is t he t ot al collection of relations t hat
can be designated by expressions in t he dat a language. Such
expressions are const ruct ed from simple names of relations
in t he named set; names of generations, roles and domains;
logical connectives; t he quantifiers of t he predicate calcu-
lus; 6 and certain const ant relation symbols such as =, >.
The named set is a subset of t he expressible set --usual l y a
ver y small subset.
Since some relations in t he named set may be time-inde-
pendent combinations of others in t hat set, i t is useful to
consider associating wi t h t he named set a collection of
st at ement s t hat define these t i me-i ndependent constraints.
We shall postpone furt her discussion of this until we have
i nt roduced several operations on relations (see Section 2).
One of t he maj or problems confronting t he designer of a
dat a syst em which is to support a relational model for its
users is t hat of determining t he class of stored representa-
tions to be supported. Ideally, t he vari et y of permi t t ed
dat a representations should be just adequat e t o cover t he
spect rum of performance requirements of t he t ot al col-
lection of installations. Too great a vari et y leads t o un-
necessary overhead in storage and continual rei nt erpret a-
tion of descriptions for t he structures current l y in effect.
For any selected class of stored representations t he dat a
syst em must provi de a means of t ransl at i ng user requests
expressed in t he dat a language of t he relational model into
correspondi ng--and efficient--actions on t he current
stored representation. For a high level dat a language this
presents a challenging design problem. Nevertheless, it is a
probl em which must be sol ved--as more users obtain con-
current access t o a large dat a bank, responsibility for pro-
viding efficient response and t hr oughput shifts from t he
individual user t o t he dat a system.
s Because each relation in a practical data bank is a finite set at
every instant of time, the existential and universal quantifiers
can be expressed in terms of a function that counts the number of
elements in any finite set.
3 8 2 Communi c at i ons of t he ACM Vol ume 13 / Numb er 6 / J une, 1970
2. Redundancy and Consi stency
2.1. OPERATIONS ON RELATIONS
Since relations are sets, all of t he usual set operations are
applicable to them. Nevertheless, t he result may not be a
relation; for example, t he union of a bi nary relation and a
t ernary relation is not a relation.
The operations discussed below are specifically for rela-
tions. These operations are i nt roduced because of t hei r key
role in deriving relations from ot her relations. Thei r
principal application is in noninferential information sys-
t ems - s ys t ems which do not provide logical inference
servi ces--al t hough t hei r applicability is not necessarily
destroyed when such services are added.
Most users would not be directly concerned with these
operations. Informat i on systems designers and people con-
cerned with dat a bank control should, however, be thor-
oughly familiar with t hem.
2.1.1. Permutation. A binary relation has an array
representation with two columns. Int erchangi ng these col-
umns yields t he converse relation. More generally, if a
permut at i on is applied to t he columns of an n-ary relation,
t he resulting relation is said to be a permutation of t he
given relation. There are, for example, 4! -- 24 permut a-
tions of the relation supply in Figure 1, if we include t he
i dent i t y permut at i on which leaves t he ordering of columns
unchanged.
Since t he user' s relational model consists of a collection
of relationships (domain-unordered relations), permut a-
tion is not rel evant to such a model considered in isolation.
I t is, however, relevant to t he consideration of stored
representations of the model. In a system which provides
symmetric exploitation of relations, t he set of queries
answerable by a stored relation is identical to t he set
answerable by any permut at i on of t hat relation. Although
it is logically unnecessary to store bot h a relation and some
permut at i on of it, performance considerations could make
it advisable.
2.1.2. Projection. Suppose now we select certain col-
umns of a relation (striking out the others) and then re-
move from the resulting array any duplication in the rows.
T he final array represents a relation which is said to be a
projection of t he given relation.
A selection operat or 7r is used to obtain any desired
permut at i on, projection, or combination of t he two opera-
tions. Thus, if L is a list of lc indices 7 L = / 1, / 2, • • • , ik
and R is an n-ary relation (n _> k), t hen 7rL ( R) is the k-ary
relation whose j t h column is column ij of R (j = 1, 2, . . . , k)
except t hat duplication in resulting rows is removed. Con-
sider t he relation supply of Figure 1. A permut ed projection
of this relation is exhibited in Figure 4. Not e t hat , in this
part i cul ar case, the projection has fewer n-tuples t han t he
relation from which it is derived.
2.1.3. Join. Suppose we are given two bi nary rela-
tions, which have some domain in common. Under what
circumstances can we combine these relations to form a
7 When dealing with relationships, we use domain names (role-
qualified whenever necessary) instead of domain positions.
t ernary relation which preserves all of t he information in
t he given relations?
The example in Figure 5 shows two relations R, S, which
are joinable wi t hout loss of information, while Figure 6
shows a join of R with S. A bi nary relation R is joinable
with a bi nary relation S if t here exists a t ernary relation U
such t hat 7r12(U) = R and ~'23(U) -- S. Any such t er nar y
relation is called a join of R with S. I f R, S are binary rela-
tions such t hat v2 (R) = ~i (S), t hen R is joinable with S.
One join t hat always exists in such a case is t he natural
join of R with S defined by
R*S = {(a, b, c):R(a, b) A S(b,c)}
where R (a, b) has t he value true if (a, b) is a member of R
and similarly for S (b, c). I t is immediate t hat
•"12(R,S) = R
and
~23 ( R, S) = S.
Not e t hat t he join shown in Figure 6 is t he nat ural join
of R with S from Figure 5. Anot her join is shown in Figure
7.
FIG. 4.
II31 (supply) (project suppl i er)
5 1
5 2
1 4
7 2
A permuted projection of the relation in Figure 1
R (supplier part) S (part project)
1 1 1 1
2 1 1 2
2 2 2 1
FIG. 5. Two joinable relations
R*S
FIG. 6.
(supplier part project)
1 1 1
1 1 2
2 1 1
2 1 2
2 2 1
The natural join of R, with S (from Figure 5)
U (supplier part project)
1 1 2
2 1 1
2 2 1
FIG. 7. Another join of R with S (from Figure 5)
Inspection of these relations reveals an element (ele-
ment 1 ) of t he domain part (the domain on which t he join
is to be made) with t he propert y t hat it possesses more
t han one relative under R and also under S. I t is this ele-
Vol ume 13 / Number 6 / J une, 1970 Communi c at i ons of t he ACMM 383
ment which gives rise to t he pl ural i t y of joins. Such an ele-
ment in t he joining domai n is called a point of ambiguity
wi t h respect to t he joining of R wi t h S.
I f either ~r21 (R) or S is a function, 8 no poi nt of ambi gui t y
can occur in joining R with S. I n such a case, t he nat ural
join of R with S is t he only join of R wi t h S. Not e t hat t he
rei t erat ed qualification "of R wi t h S" is necessary, because
S mi ght be joinable wi t h R (as well as R wi t h S), and this
join would be an entirely separat e consideration. I n Fi gure
5, none of t he relations R, ml (R), S, ~r21 (S) is a function.
Ambi gui t y in t he joining of R wi t h S can somet i mes be
resolved by means of ot her relations. Suppose we are given,
or can derive from sources i ndependent of R and S, a rela-
tion T on t he domai ns project and supplier with t he follow-
ing properties:
(1) ~-~(T) = ~-2(S),
(2) w2(T) = ~( R) ,
(3) T( j , s) - - +3p( R( S, p) A S( p, j ) ) ,
(4) R(s, p) ---->3j(S(p, j) A T( j , s) ) ,
(5) S( p, j ) ---->3s(T(j, s) A R(s, p) ) ,
t hen we may form a t hree-way join of R, S, T; t hat is, a
t er nar y relation such t hat
~( v) = R, ~( U) = S, ~( V) = T.
Such a join will be called a cyclic 3-join t o distinguish it
from a linear 3-join which would be a quat er nar y relation
V such t hat
~r12(V) = R, ~r~3(V) = Z, 7r34(V) = T.
While it is possible for more t han one cyclic 3-join to exist
(see Figures 8, 9, for an exampl e), t he circumstances under
which this can occur entail much more severe constraints
FIG. 8.
R (8 p) s (p i) T ~ 8)
l a a d dl
2a a e d2
2b bd e 2
be e 2
Bi nar yr el at i onswi t hapl ur al i t yof cycl i c3~oi ns
FIG. 9.
U (8 p j) U' (8 p i)
l a d l a d
2a e 2a d
2bd 2a e
2be 2bd
2be
Two cyclic 3-joins of the relations in Figure 8
t han t hose for a pl ural i t y of 2-joins. To be specific, t he re-
lations R, S, T must possess points of ambi gui t y wi t h
respect t o joining R wi t h S (say poi nt x), S with T (say
8 A function is a binary relation, which is one-one or many-one,
but not one-many.
y), and T wi t h R (say z), and, furt hermore, y must be a
relative of x under S, z a relative of y under T, and x a
relative of z under R. Not e t hat in Fi gure 8 t he poi nt s
x = a; y = d; z = 2 have this propert y.
The nat ural linear 3-join of t hree bi nary relations R, S,
T is given by
R. S. T = { ( a, b, c , d) : R( a, b) A S( b, c) A T( c, d) }
where parent heses are not needed on t he l eft -hand side be-
cause t he nat ural 2-join (*) is associative. To obt ai n t he
cyclic count erpart , we i nt roduce t he operat or .y which pro-
duces a relation of degree n - 1 from a relation of degree n
by t yi ng its ends t oget her. Thus, if R is an n- ar y relation
(n >_ 2), t he tie of R is defined by t he equat i on
"I(R) = { (al, a2, . . . , a, _l ) : R( al , a2, . . . , a~-l, an)
A al = an}.
We may now represent t he nat ural cyclic 3-join of R, S, T
by t he expression
( R. S. T) .
Ext ensi on of t he notions of linear and cyclic 3-join and
their nat ural count erpart s to t he joining of n bi nary rela-
tions (where n > 3) is obvious. A few words may be ap-
propri at e, however, regarding t he joining of relations which
are not necessarily bi nary. Consider t he case of t wo rela-
tions R (degree r), S (degree s) which are to be joined on
p of t hei r domai ns (p < r, p < s). For simplicity, sup-
pose these p domai ns are t he last p of t he r domai ns of R,
and t he first p of t he s domai ns of S. I f this were not so, we
could al ways appl y appropri at e per mut at i ons t o make it
so. Now, t ake t he Cart esi an product of t he first r-p do-
mai ns of R, and call this new domai n A. Take t he Car-
tesian product of t he last p domai ns of R, and call this B.
Take t he Cart esi an product of t he last s-p domai ns of S
and call this C.
We can t r eat R as if it were a bi nary relation on t he
domai ns A, B. Similarly, we can t r eat S as if it were a bi-
nar y relation on t he domai ns B, C. The notions of linear
and cyclic 3-join are now directly applicable. A similar ap-
proach can be t aken wi t h t he linear and cyclic n-joins of n
relations of assorted degrees.
2.1.4. Composition. The reader is pr obabl y familiar
with t he notion of composition applied t o functions. We
shall discuss a generalization of t hat concept and appl y it
first to bi nary relations. Our definitions of composi t i on
and composabi l i t y are based very directly on t he definitions
of join and joinability given above.
Suppose we are given two relations R, S. T is a com-
position of R wi t h S if t here exists a join U of R wi t h S such
t hat T = 7913 (U). Thus, t wo relations are composabl e if
and only if t hey are j oinable. However, t he existence of
more t han one join of R wi t h S does not i mpl y t he existence
of more t han one composition of R with S.
Corresponding to t he nat ural join of R wi t h S is t he
384 Communi c at i ons of t he ACM Volume 13 / Number 6 / June, 1970
natural composition 9 of R with S defined by
R. S = ~' i~(R*S).
Taki ng t he relations R, S from Figure 5, their nat ural com:
position is exhibited in Figure 10 and anot her composition
is exhibited in Figure 11 (derived from t he join exhibited
in Figure 7).
Fro. 10.
R. S (project supplier)
1 1
1 2
2 1
2 2
The natural composition of R with S (from Figure 5)
T (project supplier)
1 2
2 1~:
Fro. 11. Another composition of R with S (from Figure 5)
When two or more joins exist, t he number of distinct
compositions may be as few as one or as many as t he num-
ber of distinct joins. Figule 12 shows an example of two
relations which have several joins but only one composition.
Not e t hat the ambiguity of point c is lost in composing R
with S, because of unambiguous associations made via t he
points a, b, d, e.
R (supplier part) S (part project)
1 a a g
1 b b f
1 c c f
2 c c g
2 d d g
2' e e f
composition Fio. 12. Many joins, only one
Extension of composition t o pairs of relations which are
not necessarily bi nary (and which may be of different de-
grees) follows t he same pat t ern as extension of pairwise
joining to such relations.
A lack of understanding of relational composition has led
several systems designers into what may be called t he
connection trap. This t rap may be described in t erms of t he
following example. Suppose each supplier description is
linked by pointers to t he descriptions of each part supplied
by t hat supplier, and each part description is similarly
linked to t he descriptions of each project which uses t hat
part. A conclusion is now drawn which is, in general, er-
roneous: namel y t hat , if all possible pat hs are followed from
a given supplier via t he parts he supplies to t he projects
using those parts, one will obtain a valid set of all projects
supplied by t hat supplier. Such a conclusion is correct
only in t he very special case t hat t he t arget relation be-
tween projects and suppliers is, in fact, t he nat ural com-
position of t he other two rel at i ons--and we must normally
add the phrase "for all t i me, " because this is usually im-
plied in claims concerning path-following techniques.
9 Other writers tend to ignore compositions other than the na-
tural one, and accordingly refer to this particular composition as
the composition--see, for example, Kelley's "General Topology."
2.1.5. Restriction. A subset of a relation is a relation.
One way in which a relation S may act on a relation R t o
generate a subset of R is t hrough t he operation restriction
of R by S. This operation is a generalization of t he restric-
tion of a function to a subset of its domain, and is defined
as follows.
Let L, M be equal-length lists of indices such t hat
L = / 1, / 2, " " , ik, M = j l , j 2, " " , jk where k ~ degree
of R and k ~ degree of S. Then t he L, M restriction of R by
S denoted RdMS is t he maximal subset R' of R such t hat
~L ( R' ) = ~M (S).
The operation is defined only if equality is applicable be-
tween elements of ~'~h (R) on t he one hand and ~'~h (S) on
t he ot her for all h = 1, 2, • • •, k.
The t hree relations R, S, R' of Figure 13 satisfy t he equa-
tion R' = R¢~,3)[¢i,2iS.
R 0 p J) S (p j) R' (s p j)
1 a A a A 1 a A
2 a A c B 2 a A
2 a B b B 2 b B
2 b A
2 b B
FIG. 13. Example of restriction
We are now in a position to consider various applications
of these operations on relations.
2.2. REDUNDANCY
Redundancy in t he named set of relations must be dis-
tinguished from redundancy in t he stored set of representa-
tions. We are primarily concerned here with the former.
To begin with, we need a precise notion of derivability for
relations.
Suppose 0 is a collection of operations on relations and
each operation has t he propert y t hat from its operands it
yields a unique relation (thus nat ural join is eligible, but
join is not ). A relation R is O-derivable from a set S of rela-
tions if t here exists a sequence of operations from the col-
lection 0 which, for all time, yields R from members of S.
The phrase "for all t i me" is present, because we are dealing
with t i me-varyi ng relations, and our interest is in derivabil-
i t y which holds over a significant period of time. For t he
named set of relationships in noninferential systems, it ap-
pears t hat an adequat e collection 01 contains t he following
operations: projection, nat ural join, tie, and restriction.
Permut at i on is irrelevant and nat ural composition need
not be included, because it is obtainable by taking a nat ural
join and t hen a projection. For the stored set of representa-
tions, an adequat e collection ~ of operations would include
permut at i on and additional operations concerned with sub-
setting and merging relations, and ordering and connecting
their elements.
2.2.1. Stronq Redundancy. A set of relations is strongly
redundant if i t contains at least one relation t hat possesses
a projection which is derivable from ot her projections of
relations in t he set. The following two examples are in-
t ended t o explain why strong redundancy is defined this
way, and to demonst rat e its practical use. I n t he first ex-
Vol ume 13 / Numb e r 6 / J une , 197 0 Communi c at i ons of t he ACM 3 8 5
ample t he collection of relations consists of j ust t he follow-
ing relation:
employee (serial #, name, manager#, managername )
with serial# as t he pri mary key and manager# as a foreign
key. Let us denote t he active domain by , ~, and suppose
t hat
and
At (manager#) c A, (serial#)
At (managername ) C At (name)
for all t i me t. I n this case the redundancy is obvious: t he
domai n managername is unnecessary. To see t hat it is a
strong redundancy as defined above, we observe t hat
~34 (employee) = ~'12 (employee )l[lm (employee).
I n t he second example t he collection of relations includes a
relation S describing suppliers with pri mary key s#, a re-
lation D describing depart ment s with pri mary key d#, a
relation J describing projects with pri mary key j#, and t he
following relations:
P (s#, d#, . . . ), Q (s#, j#, . - . ), R (d#, j#, . . . ),
where in each case . - . denotes domains ot her t han s#, d#,
j#. Let us suppose the following condition C is known t o
hold i ndependent of time: supplier s supplies depar t ment
d (relation P) if and only if supplier s supplies some proj ect
j (relation Q) to which d is assigned (relation R). Then, we
can write t he equation
~'12 ( P ) = 71-12 ( Q) . 71"21( R)
and t hereby exhibit a strong redundancy.
An i mport ant reason for t he existence of strong re-
dundancies in the named set of relationships is user con-
venience. A part i cul ar case of this is t he ret ent i on of semi-
obsolete relationships in t he named set so t hat old pro-
grams t hat refer to t hem by name can continue to run cor-
rectly. Knowledge of t he existence of strong redundancies
in t he named set enables a syst em or dat a base adminis-
t r at or greater freedom in t he selection of stored representa-
tions t o cope more efficiently with current traffic. If t he
strong redundancies in t he named set are directly reflected
in strong redundancies in t he stored set (or if ot her strong
redundancies are i nt roduced into t he stored set ), then, gen-
erally speaking, ext ra storage space and updat e t i me are
consumed wi t h a potential drop in query t i me for some
queries and in load on t he central processing units.
2.2.2. Weak Redundancy. A second t ype of redun-
dancy may exist. In contrast to strong redundancy it is not
characterized by an equation. A collection of relations is
weakly redundant if it contains a relation t hat has a projec-
tion which is not derivable from ot her members but is at
all times a projection of some join of ot her projections of
relations in t he collection.
We can exhibit a weak redundancy by taking t he second
example (cited above) for a strong redundancy, and as-
suming now t hat condition C does not hold at all times.
The relations ~12 (P), ~r12 (Q), '~'12 (R) are complex l° relations
with t he possibility of points of ambi gui t y occurring from
t i me t o t i me in t he potential joining of any two. Under
these circumstances, none of t hem is derivable from t he
ot her two. However, constraints do exist between t hem,
since each is a projection of some cyclic join of t he t hree of
t hem. One of t he weak redundancies can be characterized
by t he st at ement : for all time, ~12 ( P) is some composition
of ~-12 (Q) with "~'21 (R). The composition in question mi ght
be t he nat ural one at some i nst ant and a nonnat ural one at
anot her instant.
Generally speaking, weak redundancies are i nherent in
t he logical needs of t he communi t y of users. They are not
removable by t he syst em or dat a base administrator. If
t hey appear at all, t hey appear in bot h t he named set and
t he stored set of representations.
2.3. CONSISTENCY
Whenever t he named set of relations is redundant in
either sense, we shall associate with t hat set a collection of
st at ement s which define all of t he redundancies which hold
i ndependent of t i me between t he member relations. If t he
information syst em l acks- - and it most probabl y wi l l --de-
tailed semantic information about each named relation, it
cannot deduce t he redundancies applicable to t he named
set. I t might, over a period of time, make at t empt s to
induce t he redundancies, but such at t empt s would be fal-
lible.
Given a collection C of t i me-varyi ng relations, an as-
sociated set Z of constraint st at ement s and an i nst ant aneous
val ue V for C, we shall call t he st at e (C, Z, V) consistent
or inconsistent according as V does or does not satisfy Z.
For example, given stored relations R, S, T t oget her wi t h
t he constraint st at ement '%'12(T) is a composition of
7r~2 (R) with 7r~2 ( S) ", we may check from t i me to t i me t hat
t he values stored for R, S, T satisfy this constraint. An al-
gori t hm for making this check would examine t he first two
columns of each of R, S, T (in what ever way t hey are repre-
sented in the syst em) and determine whet her
(1) Try(T) = ~-i(R),
(2) ~( T) = ~( S) ,
(3) for every element pair (a, c) in t he relation ~2 (T)
t here is an element b such t hat (a, b) is in ~-12 (R)
and (b, c) is in 7r12(S).
There are practical problems (which we shall not discuss
here) in t aki ng an instantaneous snapshot of a collection
of relations, some of which may be ver y large and highly
variable.
I t is i mport ant to not e t hat consistency as defined above
is a propert y of t he instantaneous st at e of a dat a bank, and
is i ndependent of how t hat st at e came about. Thus, in
particular, t here is no distinction made on t he basis of
whet her a user generated an inconsistency due to an act of
omission or an act of commission. Exami nat i on of a simple
10 A binary relation is complex if neither it nor its converse is a
function.
3 8 6 Communi c at i ons of t he AMC Vol ume 13 / Numb er 6 / J une, 1970
example will show t he reasonableness of this (possibly un-
conventional) approach to consistency.
Suppose t he named set C includes t he relations S, J, D,
P, Q, R of the example in Section 2.2 and t hat P, Q, R
possess either t he strong or weak redundancies described
therein (in t he particular case now under consideration, it
does not mat t er which kind of redundancy occurs). Furt her,
suppose t hat at some t i me t the dat a bank st at e is consistent
and contains no project j such t hat supplier 2 supplies
project j and j is assigned to depart ment 5. Accordingly,
t here is no element (2, 5) in ~-i2 (P). Now, a user introduces
t he element (2, 5) into ~ri2 ( P) by inserting some appropri-
ate element into P. The dat a bank st at e is now inconsistent.
The inconsistency could have arisen from an act of omis-
sion, if t he i nput (2, 5) is correct, and t here does exist a
project j such t hat supplier 2 supplies j and j is assigned to
depart ment 5. In this case, it is very likely t hat t he user
intends in t he near future to insert elements into Q and R
which will have the effect of introducing (2, j ) into ~r12 (Q)
and (5, j ) in 7rI2(R). On the ot her hand, the i nput (2, 5)
might have been faulty. I t could be the case t hat the user
i nt ended t o insert some ot her element into P- - a n element
whose insertion would t ransform a consistent st at e into
a consistent state. The point is t hat t he system will
normally have no way of resolving this question wi t hout
interrogating its envi ronment (perhaps t he user who cre-
ated t he inconsistency).
There are, of course, several possible ways in which a
syst em can detect inconsistencies and respond to them.
I n one approach the system checks for possible inconsist-
ency whenever an insertion, deletion, or key updat e occurs.
Nat ural l y, such checking will slow these operations down.
If an inconsistency has been generated, details are logged
internally, and if it is not remedied within some reasonable
t i me interval, either t he user or someone responsible for
the security and integrity of t he dat a is notified. Anot her
approach is to conduct consistency checking as a bat ch
operation once a day or less frequently. Input s causing t he
inconsistencies which remain in t he dat a bank st at e at
checking t i me can be t racked down if t he system main-
rains a journal of all state-changing transactions. This
l at t er approach would certainly be superior if few non-
t ransi t ory inconsistencies occurred.
2.4. SUMMARY
In Section 1 a relational model of dat a is proposed as a
basis for protecting users of format t ed dat a systems from
t he potentially disruptive changes in dat a representation
caused by growth in t he dat a bank and changes in traffic.
A normal form for t he time-varying collection of relation-
ships is introduced.
In Section 2 operations on relations and two t ypes of
redundancy are defined and applied to t he problem of
maintaining t he dat a in a consistent state. This is bound t o
become a serious practical problem as more and more dif-
ferent t ypes of dat a are i nt egrat ed t oget her into common
dat a banks.
Many questions are raised and left unanswered. For
example, only a few of the more i mport ant properties of
t he dat a sublanguage in Section 1.4 are mentioned. Nei t her
t he purely linguistic details of such a language nor t he
i mpl ement at i on problems are discussed. Nevertheless, t he
material presented should be adequat e for experienced
systems programmers to visualize several approaches. I t
is also hoped t hat this paper can cont ri but e to greater pre-
cision in work on format t ed dat a systems.
Ack nowledgment. I t was C. T. Davies of I BM Pough-
keepsie who convinced the aut hor of the need for dat a
independence in fut ure i nformat i on systems. The aut hor
wishes to t hank him and also F. P. Palermo, C. P. Wang,
E. B. Altman, and M. E. Senko of the I BM San Jose Re-
search Labor at or y for helpful discussions.
RECEIVED SEPTEMBER, 1969; REVISED FEBRUARY, 1970
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Amsterdam, p. 162-172.
2. LEVEIN, R. E., AND MARON, M. E. A computer system for
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3. BACHMAN, C. W. Software for random access processing.
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4. McGEE, W. C. Generalized file processing. In Annual Re-
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5. Information Management System/360, Application Descrip-
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1965.
7. BLEIER, R. E. Treating hierarchical data structures in the
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10. FELDMAN, J. A., AND ROVNEa, P. D. An Algol-based associ-
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