What does Boyce-Codd Normal Form Do?

Philip A. Bernstein, Nathan Goodman: What does Boyce-Codd Normal Form Do? VLDB 1980: 245-259
  author    = {Philip A. Bernstein and
               Nathan Goodman},
  title     = {What does Boyce-Codd Normal Form Do?},
  booktitle = {Sixth International Conference on Very Large Data Bases, October
               1-3, 1980, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Proceedings},
  publisher = {IEEE Computer Society},
  year      = {1980},
  pages     = {245-259},
  ee        = {db/conf/vldb/BernsteinG80.html},
  crossref  = {DBLP:conf/vldb/80},
  bibsource = {DBLP,}


Normalization research has concentrated on defining normal forms for database schemas and developing efficient algorithms for attaining these normal forms. It has never been proved that normal forms are good, i.e. that normal forms are beneficial to database users. This paper considers one of the earliest normal forms (Boyce Codd normal form [Cod2]) whose benefits are intuitively understood. We formalize these benefits and attempt to prove that the normal form attains them. Instead we prove the opposite: Boyce-Codd normal form fails to meet its goals except in trivial cases. This counterintuitive result is a consequence of the "universal relation assumption" upon which normalization theory rests. Normalization theory will remain an isolated theoretical area, divorced from database practice, until this assumption is circumvented.

Copyright © 1980 by The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, Inc. (IEEE). Abstract used with permission.

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Sixth International Conference on Very Large Data Bases, October 1-3, 1980, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Proceedings. IEEE Computer Society 1980
Contents BibTeX


Alfred V. Aho, Catriel Beeri, Jeffrey D. Ullman: The Theory of Joins in Relational Databases. ACM Trans. Database Syst. 4(3): 297-314(1979) BibTeX
William Ward Armstrong: Dependency Structures of Data Base Relationships. IFIP Congress 1974: 580-583 BibTeX
Catriel Beeri, Philip A. Bernstein, Nathan Goodman: A Sophisticate's Introduction to Database Normalization Theory. VLDB 1978: 113-124 BibTeX
Catriel Beeri, Ronald Fagin, John H. Howard: A Complete Axiomatization for Functional and Multivalued Dependencies in Database Relations. SIGMOD Conference 1977: 47-61 BibTeX
Philip A. Bernstein: Synthesizing Third Normal Form Relations from Functional Dependencies. ACM Trans. Database Syst. 1(4): 277-298(1976) BibTeX
Catriel Beeri, Alberto O. Mendelzon, Yehoshua Sagiv, Jeffrey D. Ullman: Equivalence of Relational Database Schemes. STOC 1979: 319-329 BibTeX
E. F. Codd: Further Normalization of the Data Base Relational Model. IBM Research Report, San Jose, California RJ909: (1971) BibTeX
E. F. Codd: Recent Investigations in Relational Data Base Systems. IFIP Congress 1974: 1017-1021 BibTeX
Umeshwar Dayal, Philip A. Bernstein: On the Updatability of Relational Views. VLDB 1978: 368-377 BibTeX
Ronald Fagin: Multivalued Dependencies and a New Normal Form for Relational Databases. ACM Trans. Database Syst. 2(3): 262-278(1977) BibTeX
Ronald Fagin: Normal Forms and Relational Database Operators. SIGMOD Conference 1979: 153-160 BibTeX
Peter Honeyman, Richard E. Ladner, Mihalis Yannakakis: Testing the Universal Instance Assumption. Inf. Process. Lett. 10(1): 14-19(1980) BibTeX
Jorma Rissanen: Independent Components of Relations. ACM Trans. Database Syst. 2(4): 317-325(1977) BibTeX

Referenced by

  1. Héctor J. Hernández, Edward P. F. Chan: Constant-Time-Maintainable BCNF Database Schemes. ACM Trans. Database Syst. 16(4): 571-599(1991)
  2. Jeffrey D. Ullman: Principles of Database and Knowledge-Base Systems, Volume II. Computer Science Press 1989, ISBN 0-7167-8162-X
  3. Héctor J. Hernández, Edward P. F. Chan: A Characterization of Constant-time-mainteinability for BCNF Database Schemes. SIGMOD Conference 1988: 209-217
  4. Edward P. F. Chan, Héctor J. Hernández: On the Desirability of gamma-Acyclic BCNF Database Schemes. ICDT 1986: 105-122
  5. Ashok Pahwa, Adarsh K. Arora: Automatic Database Navigation: Towards a High Level User Interface. ER 1985: 36-43
  6. Jeffrey D. Ullman: On Kent's "Consequences of Assuming a Universal Relation". ACM Trans. Database Syst. 8(4): 637-643(1983)
  7. Yehoshua Sagiv: A Characterization of Globally Consistent Databases and Their Correct Access Paths. ACM Trans. Database Syst. 8(2): 266-286(1983)
  8. David Maier, Jeffrey D. Ullman: Maximal Objects and the Semantics of Universal Relation Databases. ACM Trans. Database Syst. 8(1): 1-14(1983)
  9. Marc H. Graham: Functions in Databases. ACM Trans. Database Syst. 8(1): 81-109(1983)
  10. Robert Brown, Douglas Stott Parker Jr.: LAURA: A Formal Data Model and her Logical Design Methodology. VLDB 1983: 206-218
  11. David Maier: The Theory of Relational Databases. Computer Science Press 1983, ISBN 0-914894-42-0
  12. Carlo Zaniolo: A New Normal Form for the Design of Relational Database Schemata. ACM Trans. Database Syst. 7(3): 489-499(1982)
  13. Anthony C. Klug, Rod Price: Determining View Dependencies Using Tableaux. ACM Trans. Database Syst. 7(3): 361-380(1982)
  14. Carol Helfgott LeDoux, Douglas Stott Parker Jr.: Reflections on Boyce-Codd Normal Form. VLDB 1982: 131-141
  15. Tomasz Imielinski, Witold Lipski Jr.: A Systematic Approach to Relational Database Theory. SIGMOD Conference 1982: 8-14
  16. Jeffrey D. Ullman: The U. R. Strikes Back. PODS 1982: 10-22
  17. Marco A. Casanova, Ronald Fagin, Christos H. Papadimitriou: Inclusion Dependencies and Their Interaction with Functional Dependencies. PODS 1982: 171-176
  18. Marco A. Casanova: A Theory of Data Dependencies over Relational Expressions. PODS 1982: 189-198
  19. Paolo Atzeni, Douglas Stott Parker Jr.: Assumptions in Relational Database Theory. PODS 1982: 1-9
  20. Billie S. Goldstein: Constraints on Null Values in Relational Databases. VLDB 1981: 101-110
  21. Yehoshua Sagiv: Can We Use the Universal Instance Assumption Without Using Nulls? SIGMOD Conference 1981: 108-120
  22. Asuman Dogac, Peter P. Chen: Entity-Relationship Model in the ANSI/SPARC Framework. ER 1981: 357-374
  23. Yannis Vassiliou: Functional Dependencies and Incomplete Information. VLDB 1980: 260-269
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