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Database Normalization and Normal Forms Options

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@2020-01-10 14:30:21

Database Normalization is a process of organizing the data in database to reduce data redundancy and inconsistency and improve data integrity. Normalizing a database design will typically improve:

  • Consistency, since errors that could be made with the database would be structurally impossible
  • Extensibility, since changes to the database structure will only affect parts of the database they are logically dependent on
  • Efficiency, since redundant information will not need to be stored

The database community has identified several distinct levels of normalization, each more stringent than the last. These are referred to as normal forms and are numbered from one (the lowest form of normalization, referred to as first normal form or 1NF) through five (fifth normal form or 5NF).

@2020-01-10 15:00:53

Anomalies in database

There are three types of anomalies that occur when the database is not normalized. These are – Insertion, update and deletion anomaly. Let’s take an example to understand this.

Example: Suppose a manufacturing company stores the employee details in a table named employee that has four attributes: emp_id for storing employee’s id, emp_name for storing employee’s name, emp_address for storing employee’s address and emp_dept for storing the department details in which the employee works. At some point of time the table looks like this:

emp_id emp_name emp_address emp_dept
101 Rick Delhi D001
101 Rick Delhi D002
123 Maggie Agra D890
166 Glenn Chennai D900
166 Glenn Chennai D004


Obviously, the above table is not normalized. We will see the problems that we face when a table is not normalized.

Update anomaly: In the above table we have two rows for employee Rick as he belongs to two departments of the company. If we want to update the address of Rick then we have to update the same in two rows or the data will become inconsistent. If somehow, the correct address gets updated in one department but not in another then as per the database, Rick would be having two different addresses, which is not correct and would lead to inconsistent data.

Insert anomaly: Suppose a new employee joins the company, who is under training and currently not assigned to any department then we would not be able to insert the data into the table if emp_dept field doesn’t allow nulls.

Delete anomaly: Suppose, if at a point of time the company closes the department D890 then deleting the rows that are having emp_dept as D890 would also delete the information of employee Maggie since she is assigned only to this department.

@2020-01-10 15:10:18

The normalization rules are designed to prevent update anomalies and data inconsistencies. With respect to performance tradeoffs, these guidelines are biased toward the assumption that all non-key fields will be updated frequently. They tend to penalize retrieval, since data that may have been retrievable from one record in an unnormalized design may have to be retrieved from several records in the normalized form. There is no obligation to fully normalize all records when actual performance requirements are taken into account. It may be considered a form of database denormalization; used to improve the performance of database queries (shorten the database response time)

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