Joe Celko is one of the most widely read of all writers about SQL, and was the winner of the DBMS Magazine Reader's Choice Award four consecutive years. He is an independent consultant living in Austin, TX. He has taught SQL in the US, UK, the Nordic countries, South America and Africa.
He served 10 years on ANSI/ISO SQL Standards Committee and contributed to the SQL-89 and SQL-92 Standards.
He has written over 800 columns in the computer trade and academic press, mostly dealing with data and databases. He is the author of eight books on SQL for Morgan-Kaufmann, including the best selling SQL FOR SMARTIES.
Joe is a well-known figure on Newsgroups and Forums, and he is famous for his his dry wit. He is also interested in Science Fiction.
In theory, it is easy to determine whether data is equal to, greater than or lesser than a value. Real-world data types can be surprisingly tricky, even for gauging data equivalence. Because SQL cannot remain aloof from any application's data types, you need to be aware of the ways and pitfalls of individual datatypes and how you can test for equality, equivalence, similarity, identity and all that jazz… Read more
It sometimes pays to go back and look at what you think you already know about SQL. Joe Celko gives a quick revision of the GROUP BY and HAVING clauses in SQL that are the bedrock of any sort of analysis of data, and comes up with some nuggets that may not be entirely obvious… Read more
SQL is unusual is that data is not passively stored. Instead you use declarative SQL to specify the rules that underlie the data and its integrity. When used properly, constraints can avoid having to provide a lot of logic elsewhere. CHECK() and DEFAULT can do a lot to ensure that your data is correct… Read more
There are several ingenious ways of using SQL References to enforce integrity declaratively. Declarative Referential Integrity (DRI) is more effective than using procedural code in triggers, procedures or application layers because it uses the SQL paradigm, thereby making optimisation easier and providing clearer expression of the rules underlying the data.… Read more
In SQL, you can express the logic of what you want to accomplish without spelling out the details of how the database should do it. Nowhere is this more powerful than in constraints. SQL is declarative, and Joe Celko demonstrates, in his introduction to Declarative SQL, how you can write portable code that performs well and executes some complex logic, merely by creating unique constraints.… Read more
Although we like to think that our programming techniques are progressive and in tune with the bleeding edge of software development practices, too often they are directly influenced by restrictions faced in the post-war decades when computers
first became mainstream. As these restrictions no longer apply, is it time to relinquish such things as cursors,
'tibbling', storing display formats, using short names for symbols and primary keys?… Read more
A database must be able to maintain and enforce the business rules and relationships in data in order to maintain the data model. It does this through referential constraints. They aren't complex, but are powerful, especially with the means to attach DRI actions to them. Joe Celko explains all, and pines for the ANSI CREATE ASSERTION statement… Read more
Not all data is discrete; some data types represent a continuum. In SQL, we have to approximate them and live with the special problems of handling continuous data. We need to understand the problems associated with continuous data types, when these will happen, and how it affects constraints and the results of queries. Joe Celko explains.… Read more
As a society, we have an unrealistic respect for data, especially if it has a decimal point somewhere and uses metric units. We who are in the business of data need to cultivate a renewed interest in the sceptical and rigorous science of statistics: it is too important to leave to 'Data Scientists'. If the data is wrong, or the way we analyse or report it is misleading, much of what we do is pointless… Read more
It is awkward to do 'Graph databases' in SQL to explore the sort of relationships and memberships in social networks because equivalence relations are classes (a set of sets) rather than sets. However one can explore graphs in SQL if the relationship has all three of the mathematical properties needed for an equivalence relationship. … Read more
Joe finds a reference to Conway's Game of Life whilst clearing out his desk, and is suddenly gripped with nostalgia. It wasn't just flares, mullets and disco, but simple computer games in interpreted basic. Somehow, Conway s Game of Life was too intriguing to be abandoned in the attic. Can it be implemented in SQL? Joe sets up a challenge.… Read more
The calendar is inherently complex by the very nature of the astronomy that underlies the year, and the conflicting historical conventions. The handling of dates in TSQL is even more complex because, when SQL Server was Sybase, it was forced by the lack of prevailing standards in SQL to create its own ways of processing and formatting dates and times. Joe Celko looks forward to a future when it is possible to write standard SQL date-processing code with SQL Server.… Read more
The SEQUENCE statement introduced in SQL Server 2012 brings the ANSI SQL 2003 standard method of generating IDs. This is a great relief to database professionals as it solves some problems what are awkward to solve with the IDENTITY property. Joe Celko explains the basics of using a SEQUENCE… Read more
The 'Structured' part of SQL denotes the fact that queries can be nested inside each other in such a way that, wherever you can use a table, you can use a table expression. Such derived tables can provide powerful magic, to which is added CTEs and Lateral Tables. Joe Celko explains.… Read more
SQL's windowing functions are surprisingly versatile, and allow us to cut out all those self-joins and explicit cursors. Joe Celko explains how they are used, and shows a few tricks such as calculating deltas in a time series, and filling in gaps.… Read more
A Dominoes game of Texas 42 inspires Joe to explore unusual uses for check constraints and views. Sometimes, the best way of discovering useful SQL techniques is to tackle the more unusual problems.… Read more
Parts explosions present a classic IT problem. How can one calculate such things as weight or cost of assemblies in SQL? Joe shows how it can be done using nested sets, with not an IDENTITY or GUID in sight..… Read more
It should be easy to model a game of poker in SQL. The problem is, however, that you need to model a permutation from a set of elements. Joe Celko argues that using a group of columns to do this isn't necessarily a violation of 1NF, since a permutation is atomic. Then comes the second problem: how would you sort such a column-base permutation in order? Sorting columns in SQL?… Read more