Relational Database Model

DatabaseRDBMSComputer Science

The relational data model was introduced by C. F. Codd in 1970. Currently, it is the most widely used data model. The relational data model describes the world as “a collection of inter-related relations (or tables).” A relational data model involves the use of data tables that collect groups of elements into relations. These models work based on the idea that each table setup will include a primary key or identifier. Other tables use that identifier to provide "relational" data links and results. 

Today, there are many commercial Relational Database Management System (RDBMS), such as Oracle, IBM DB2, and Microsoft SQL Server. There are also many free and open-source RDBMS, such as MySQL, mSQL (mini-SQL) and the embedded Java DB (Apache Derby). Database administrators use Structured Query Language (SQL) to retrieve data elements from a relational database.

As mentioned, the primary key is a fundamental tool in creating and using relational data models. It must be unique for each member of a data set. It must be populated for all members. Inconsistencies can cause problems in how developers retrieve data. Other issues with relational database designs include excessive duplication of data, faulty or partial data, or improper links or associations between tables. A large part of routine database administration involves evaluating all the data sets in a database to make sure that they are consistently populated and will respond well to SQL or any other data retrieval method.

For example, a conventional database row would represent a tuple, which is a set of data that revolves around an instance or virtual object so that the primary key is its unique identifier. A column name in a data table is associated with an attribute, an identifier or feature that all parts of a data set have. These and other strict conventions help to provide database administrators and designers with standards for crafting relational database setups.

Database Design Objective

  • Eliminate Data Redundancy: the same piece of data shall not be stored in more than one place. This is because duplicate data not only waste storage spaces but also easily lead to inconsistencies.
  • Ensure Data Integrity and Accuracy:  is the maintenance of, and the assurance of the accuracy and consistency of, data over its entire life-cycle, and is a critical aspect to the design, implementation, and usage of any system which stores, processes, or retrieves data.

The relational model has provided the basis for:

  • Research on the theory of data/relationship/constraint
  • Numerous database design methodologies
  • The standard database access language called structured query language (SQL)
  • Almost all modern commercial database management systems

Relational databases go together with the development of SQL. The simplicity of SQL - where even a novice can learn to perform basic queries in a short period of time - is a large part of the reason for the popularity of the relational model.

The two tables below relate to each other through the product code field. Any two tables can relate to each other simply by creating a field they have in common.

Table 1

Colour Pen
₹ 25.00
Pencil box
₹ 45.00

Table 2


There are four stages of an RDM which are as follows −

  • Relations and attributes − The various tables and attributes related to each table are identified. The tables represent entities, and the attributes represent the properties of the respective entities.
  • Primary keys − The attribute or set of attributes that help in uniquely identifying a record is identified and assigned as the primary key.
  • Relationships −The relationships between the various tables are established with the help of foreign keys. Foreign keys are attributes occurring in a table that are primary keys of another table. The types of relationships that can exist between the relations (tables) are One to one, One to many, and Many to many
  • Normalization − This is the process of optimizing the database structure. Normalization simplifies the database design to avoid redundancy and confusion. The different normal forms are as follows:

                 1. First normal form
                 2. Second normal form
                 3. Third normal form
                 4. Boyce-Codd normal form
                 5. Fifth normal form

By applying a set of rules, a table is normalized into the above normal forms in a linearly progressive fashion. The efficiency of the design gets better with each higher degree of normalization.

Advantages of Relational Databases

The main advantages of relational databases are that they enable users to easily categorize and store data that can later be queried and filtered to extract specific information for reports. Relational databases are also easy to extend and aren't reliant on the physical organization. After the original database creation, a new data category can be added without all existing applications being modified.

Other Advantages

  • Accurate − Data is stored just once, which eliminates data deduplication.
  • Flexible − Complex queries are easy for users to carry out.
  • Collaborative −Multiple users can access the same database.
  • Trusted −Relational database models are mature and well-understood.
  • Secure − Data in tables within relational database management systems (RDBMS) can be limited to allow access by only particular users.
Published on 23-Jul-2018 16:08:28