APR 14, 2014 3:54pm ET

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Data Design Challenge

Modifying Foreign Key Definitions


When we create a one-to-many relationship between two entities, we copy the primary key from the entity on the one side (the parent entity) over as a foreign key to the entity on the many side (the child entity). We traditionally copy over all of the metadata associated with the primary key such as name, format and definition. The one exception where a foreign key can have a different name than its primary key is when there is more than one relationship from the same entity. To avoid having two or more data elements with the same name in the same entity, we "role name," meaning giving the foreign key a different name than its primary key.

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Comments (3)
So... the consensus (no wait, the unanimous opinion) is that the meaning of any attribute in a complex relationship (not just a property or descriptor) is dependent on the table in which it finds itself used as a foreign key?

No wonder data modelers have such an aversion to the semantics of their craft!

Posted by John O | Thursday, April 24 2014 at 12:38PM ET
I wonder what John O means by "data modelers have such an aversion to the semantics of their craft". The article clearly supports the principle of matching names and definitions, thereby making the meaning (semantics) clear and accurate. This is a key aspect of data modeling -- at least when practiced well. I've certainly encountered carelessness in some models, but the modelers I work with want good semantics in their models.
Posted by David W | Wednesday, May 14 2014 at 5:03PM ET
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