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Engineering LibreTexts


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  • This text is a free introductory text that introduces MS Access and relational database design. The motivation is to support a second-year course on database systems which, to the student, is either a service course providing an introduction to database concepts, or, as a prerequisite for more advanced study in the field.

    Various texts have been used with some success but were felt lacking for various reasons such as: (1) being workbook style with extensive tutorial lessons, (2) being too focused on a technology, (3) having design material that did not fit well with more advanced courses, and (4) being so expensive that some students opted not to purchase.

    Our second-year course has no prerequisites and is taken by students from various disciplines. However, most students are registered in either a Computer Science major program or the Computer Science minor. Students who enroll in the course obtain: (1) a working knowledge of a personal database system (MS Access), (2) knowledge of SQL (primarily the Select statement), and (3) awareness of concepts and techniques necessary to database design.

    Following this course, students can take third- and fourth-year courses in the database subject area. The coverage of Entity Relationship Modeling in those courses is based on the Chen notation – as is usual for academic texts. To be consistent with those higher level courses the same approach is used here.

    It is our opinion that many students find normalization theory a difficult topic. Many presentations on normal forms are more complicated than necessary (e.g. some texts will give more than one definition of some normal forms). Our approach has been largely motivated by writings of Chris Date. We have attempted to give a suitable introduction to normalization theory for the beginning database student and to relate that material to other topics such as entity relationship diagrams.

    Version 2.0 includes two appendices that cover a) creating forms that display data in a parent/child format where two tables are related via a one-to-many relationship, and b) entity-relationship modeling for supertypes and subtypes.

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