Andy Carver
Consulting Services


After 30 Years, The Traditional Normalization Procedure's Fallacies Are Exposed!
Most I.T. people know that to have an efficient, internally-consistent relational database system, you need to start with a normalized schema—and then denormalize, only if necessary, in a deliberate, controlled way. What has only recently come to light is that the traditional normalization procedure, based on "nonloss decomposition", is insufficient to give you a Fifth Normal Form (5NF) or even Fourth Normal Form (4NF) schema design.

The real way to do a fully-normalized schema design has been around for a while - but it was never marketed, or even recognized, as the only effective way to do schema normalization. But a colleague, Terry Halpin, and I (who have both taught database design at the university level for years) discovered not only that the traditional normalization procedure was defective, but that the design procedure we teach -- conceptual information-modeling (in the form of Object-Role Modeling, ORM) -- is the only effective, practical way to ensure a fully normalized schema.

We wrote a paper on the topic, which we presented at the 2008 EMMSAD Workshop in Montpellier, France. We hope to write an expanded version of that paper for a planned anthology of papers from the workshop.

If you have comments or questions on the paper, or on database schema design in general, please feel free to send me an e-mail: I will respond to any questions as quickly as I can.

Finding Your Solution