A Gentle Introduction to Relational and Object Oriented Databases

Some time ago I wrote an introductory talk on relational databases (what does relational mean, why are RDBMS any good, etc) and, after a literature survey resulting in an annotated bibliography, another introductory talk on object oriented databases (what are they, why would anyone want an OODBMS instead of a RDBMS, etc). I have now collected all three in a nicely printable technical report which you may download.


Before you start downloading, here is the preface from the report:


In late 1995 I was part of a workgroup that was about to embark on a new project that would eventually use a large database. The people in the group came from different backgrounds and experiences and so, to ensure that we could all agree on basic concepts and terminology, I volunteered to prepare a talk explaining the fundamentals of relational databases, a favourite topic of mine. The talk was very well received, so I was given the job to find out about object oriented databases and to report on that as well. I spent about a month in the library doing a literature survey, at the end of which I compiled an annotated bibliography and presented a second talk. I made this material available on my web space and then, after a few months, forgot about it. I even ended up archiving it away to CD when I was running low on disc quota. Only recently, thanks to some flattering fan mail, did I realise that my presentations were actually being used around the world in university lectures from Austria to Australia. So, to make them visible to a wider audience, I am now collecting them in an ORL technical report, which is what I should have originally done.

This report is an exact reproduction of my 1995 material. It consists of three parts: a talk on relational databases, a talk on object oriented databases and a commented bibliography on object oriented databases. The talks are intended as one-hour introductions for an audience of computer professionals, assumed to be technically competent but not familiar with the topics discussed. No prior knowledge of databases is assumed for the relational database talk, and having absorbed the first talk is a sufficient precondition for understanding the second. Knowing from experience that slides often feel bare when reprinted, I have augmented them with comments echoing what you would have heard from me if you had been present at the talk.

If you wish to use or adapt these talks as your own training material, which you are free to do as long as you credit the source and give a pointer to my page, the corresponding Powerpoint presentations are freely downloadable from http://www.orl.co.uk/~fms/db/.

Since I am now working on other subjects, I have no plans to keep the bibliography up to date. However I hope that you'll find this material useful as an introduction and welcome any feedback.

Cambridge, UK
May 1998

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