# Problems of relational database design

## Abstract

In the logical design of a relational database, the theory of data dependencies has been playing an important role. Data depenencies are integrity constraints concerned with attribute relationships. The theory of functional dependencies (FDs) were successful to capture the important aspects of relational database design: semantics of data and logical scheme design (normalization). Several problems of FDs have been also pointed out, and many kinds of new dependencies have been introduced as the generalizations of FDs. Each of the researches on the theory of the new dependencies, semantics of data and the logical scheme design has made a great progress with few sufficient interactions. This leads to several problems when the data dependency theory is used in the actual relational database design.

In this paper, we identify these important unsolved problems as well as the problems of the FD-based design, and proceed to solve some of them. As for the FD-based design, a new synthetic design procedure is shown. We show that the well known Bernstein's algorithm may not always produce a minimum solution in some cases, and the problem is solved in our procedure. Furthermore, our procedure always produces a set of relations which satisfy the important criterion ‘lossless join property’. We also discuss the decompositions of Boyce-Codd normal form relations by multivalued dependencies. As for the principle of logical scheme design, we discuss the preservability of data dependencies. We mainly discuss what data dependencies can be enforced by a set of relation schemes when each relation is allowed to be updated independently from others. Several important conditions for the preservability are shown. This study aims at the relaxation of so called ‘universal relation assumption’. As for the semantics of data, we discuss the semantic problems of multivalued dependencies and the incomplete information problem.

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