Inside the Data Reading Room – Fall 2014 Edition

Welcome to yet another edition of Inside the Data Reading Room, a regular feature of my blog where I take a look at recent database- and data-related books. In today’s post we’ll examine a book on SQL queries and a book on temporal databases.

The first book is the third edition of SQL Queries for Mere Mortals by Michael J. Hernandez and John L. Viescas. If you have read either of the first two editions of this book you know how useful it can be to help a new to intermediate SQL coder learn the ins and outs of the language.

The book is designed to be used by people who are not SQL wizards. That is to say, if you can already code circles around your peers and you rarely look things up in the manual, then you are not likely to get much from SQL Queries for Mere Mortals. But if you are one of those “mere mortals” referenced in the title, this book will be quite helpful.

Part 1 of the book consists of the first three chapters and it sets the stage for the meat of the book by explaining things like relational theory, database 101, design, and a brief history of SQL. This material can safely be skipped if you feel you have the necessary background.

The rest of the book digs into the task of teaching SQL: from the basics in Part 2, through joining, grouping and aggregating data, modifying data, and more. If you have a database environment you can work with, then working through the exercises provided in each chapter will help you to hone your SQL coding skills.

Now it is true that there are a lot of SQL books that have been published… and it can be difficult to choose which ones you want to buy. I think the authors have done a nice job of servicing a well-defined subset of the market – the non-expert SQL coder looking to learn more. If you think that describes you, then you would do well to add this book to your reading list.

The next book we’ll discuss here is Time and Relational Theory: Temporal Databases in the Relational Model and SQL by C.J. Date, Hugh Darwen and Nikos A. Lorentzos. For long-time database professionals, Date and Darwen need no introduction. If you are looking for an expert to define database theory to you, then Date and Darwen should be at the top of your list.

Temporal database technology is gaining acceptance and being adopted in commercial database management systems, such as IBM’s DB2. As such, learning the theory behind temporal data is a worthwhile endeavor for DBAs and developers alike.

Although listed as a second edition, Time and Relational Theory is based on the author’s earlier book on the subject, Temporal Data & the Relational Model (Morgan Kaufmann, 2002), with additional new material and research. So it is more a new book than a second edition. The book covers the temporal extensions that have been added in SQL:2011, as well as offering insight into temporal functionality still missing from SQL.

So, if you are looking for a good introduction to temporal relational database functionality, or an adjunct to the explanation of temporal capabilities in your DBMS manuals, look no further than Time and Relational Theory from Date, Darwen and Lorentzos.



I'm a strategist, researcher, and consultant with nearly three decades of experience in all facets of database systems development.
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