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A pedagogical approach to database design via Karnaugh maps

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2 Author(s)
Russomanno, D.J. ; Dept. of Electr. Eng., Univ. of Memphis, TN, USA ; Bonnell, Ronald D.

The study of normalization is a fundamental topic that is covered in most introductory database courses taught by departments of Computer/Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. The typical pedagogical approach to normalization presents several classical algorithms, which are based upon the application of axioms and lemmas for manipulating functional dependencies, that can be used in the process of relational decomposition and synthesis. In this paper, an augmentation to the traditional pedagogical strategy is presented for introducing students to normalization and relational synthesis concepts. This augmentation transforms semantic concepts into Boolean form that can be easily manipulated with the Karnaugh map. The Karnaugh map provides an especially useful method for illustrating the process of determining the candidate keys of a relation, as well as simplifying the mechanics of manipulating functional dependencies that are required for database decomposition and synthesis. Moreover, students find the Karnaugh-map-based techniques faster for most calculations, as well as easier to apply than conventional algorithms, since most engineering students are more familiar with combinatorial Boolean algebra than the algebra of functional relations

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Education, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:42 ,  Issue: 4 )