Data Is Crazier than You Think

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

The SQL of The Game of Life

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

On Handling Dates in SQL

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

Nesting Levels in SQL

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

Row Sorting in SQL

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

SQL VIEW Basics

SQL Views are essential for the database developer. However, it is common to see them misued, or neglected. Joe Celko tackles an introduction to the subject, but there is something about the topic that makes it likely that even the experienced developer will find out something new from reading it.… Read more

Mimicking Network Databases in SQL

Unlike the hierarchical database model, which created a tree structure in which to store data, the network model formed a generalized 'graph' structure that describes the relationships between the nodes. Nowadays, the relational model is used to solve the problems for which the network model was created, but the old 'network' solutions are still being implemented by programmers, even when they are less effective.… Read more

Mimicking Magnetic Tape in SQL

The sequential nature of early data storage devices such as punched card and magnetic tape once forced programmers to devise algorithms that made the best of sequential access. These ways of doing data-processing have become so entrenched that they are still used in modern relational database systems. There is now a better way, as Joe explains.… Read more