free barcode generator using vb.net 11: Data Integrity in Software

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11: Data Integrity
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Overview
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The term data integrity refers to the correctness and completeness of the data in a database. When the contents of a database are modified with the INSERT, DELETE, or UPDATE statements, the integrity of the stored data can be lost in many different ways. For example: Invalid data may be added to the database, such as an order that specifies a nonexistent product. Existing data may be modified to an incorrect value, such as reassigning a salesperson to a nonexistent office. Changes to the database may be lost due to a system error or power failure. Changes may be partially applied, such as adding an order for a product without adjusting the quantity available for sale. One of the important roles of a relational DBMS is to preserve the integrity of its stored data to the greatest extent possible. This chapter describes the SQL language features that assist the DBMS in this task.
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What Is Data Integrity
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To preserve the consistency and correctness of its stored data, a relational DBMS typically imposes one or more data integrity constraints. These constraints restrict the data values that can be inserted into the database or created by a database update. Several different types of data integrity constraints are commonly found in relational databases, including: Required data. Some columns in a database must contain a valid data value in every row; they are not allowed to contain missing or NULL values. In the sample database, every order must have an associated customer who placed the order. Therefore, the CUST column in the ORDERS table is a required column. The DBMS can be asked to prevent NULL values in this column. Validity checking. Every column in a database has a domain, a set of data values that are legal for that column. The sample database uses order numbers that begin at
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100,001, so the domain of the ORDER_NUM column is positive integers greater than 100,000. Similarly, employee numbers in the EMPL_NUM column must fall within the numeric range of 101 to 999. The DBMS can be asked to prevent other data values in these columns. Entity integrity. The primary key of a table must contain a unique value in each row, which is different from the values in all other rows. For example, each row of the PRODUCTS table has a unique set of values in its MFR_ID and PRODUCT_ID columns, which uniquely identifies the product represented by that row. Duplicate values are illegal, because they wouldn't allow the database to distinguish one product from another. The DBMS can be asked to enforce this unique values constraint. Referential integrity. A foreign key in a relational database links each row in the child table containing the foreign key to the row of the parent table containing the matching primary key value. In the sample database, the value in the REP_OFFICE column of each SALESREPS row links the salesperson represented by that row to the office where he or she works. The REP_OFFICE column must contain a valid value from the OFFICE column of the OFFICES table, or the salesperson will be assigned to an invalid office. The DBMS can be asked to enforce this foreign key/primary key constraint. Other data relationships. The real-world situation modeled by a database will often have additional constraints that govern the legal data values that may appear in the database. For example, in the sample database, the sales vice president may want to insure that the quota target for each office does not exceed the total of the quota targets for the salespeople in that office. The DBMS can be asked to check modifications to the office and salesperson quota targets to make sure that their values are constrained in this way. Business rules. Updates to a database may be constrained by business rules governing the real-world transactions that are represented by the updates. For example, the company using the sample database may have a business rule that forbids accepting an order for which there is an inadequate product inventory. The DBMS can be asked to check each new row added to the ORDERS table to make sure that the value in its QTY column does not violate this business rule. Consistency. Many real-world transactions cause multiple updates to a database. For example, accepting a customer order may involve adding a row to the ORDERS table, increasing the SALES column in the SALESREPS table for the person who took the order, and increasing the SALES column in the OFFICES table for the office where that salesperson is assigned. The INSERT and both UPDATEs must all take place in order for the database to remain in a consistent, correct state. The DBMS can be asked to enforce this type of consistency rule or to support applications that implement such rules. The ANSI/ISO SQL standard specifies some of the simpler data integrity constraints. For example, the required data constraint is supported by the ANSI/ISO standard and implemented in a uniform way across almost all commercial SQL products. More complex constraints, such as business rules constraints, are not specified by the ANSI/ISO standard, and there is a wide variation in the techniques and SQL syntax used to support them. The SQL features that support the first five integrity constraints are described in this chapter. The SQL transaction mechanism, which supports the consistency constraint, is described in 12.
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