A great way to sharpen our analysis and modeling skills is to continuously address real-world scenarios. A modeling scenario along with suggested solutions appears each month in this Design Challenge column. The scenario is emailed to more than 1,000 designers up to the challenge. Many of the responses, including my own, are consolidated here. If you would like to become a Design Challenger and have the opportunity to submit modeling solutions, please add your email address at www.stevehoberman.com/designchallenge.htm. If you have a challenge you would like our group to tackle, please email me a description of the scenario at me@stevehoberman.com.

A surrogate key is a unique identifier for a table, a numeric counter introduced early in the physical design stage. No meaning is implied by a surrogate key value. For example, you can't look at a month identifier of 1 and assume that it represents January. A surrogate key allows for more efficient navigation across structures and facilitates integration across applications. However, before telling the manager to always use surrogates, we need to consider the drawbacks: it can take more time and effort to navigate structures as well as add more complexity to the development phase. Therefore, we need guidelines in determining where it makes sense to create a surrogate key.

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