Don't think Joe Celko's Data and Databases: Concepts in Practice
is for computer beginners. It starts by defining mathematically what data is, relationships between data, and how all this becomes the information and wisdom that you really want from your database, with a host of fascinating examples and warnings. Read the introduction and you'll even understand statistics better.
The data and relationships in any database are only ever a subset of the real world with just the attributes and relationships that matter to how your database needs to work. As well as explaining all the concepts you need to build and design databases, Celko shows why these matter and how to decide what entities to use to represent data. He covers the major database design techniques; this soon becomes technical, with code snippets and references to various database theories, but usually the examples make sense of it all.
The section on time is fascinating as well as useful, but while the Y2K discussion covers all the important issues, it does seem dated, referring to problems in DOS and Windows 3.1 rather than Windows NT or Windows 95/98. Read this to understand the problem, not for information on how to fix it. The details of how to deal with numerical data, text and "exotic" data like multimedia and geographical information, how to encode data, and how to check for errors are certainly useful, but oddly all of these come before the explanation of what relational databases actually are and how they work.
You'll still need to learn the specifics of whatever database application you plan to use, but if you're a computer professional and you need a fast introduction to the nuts and bolts of database theory and programming, start here. --Penny Jannifer, amazon.co.uk
Do you need an introductory book on data and databases? If the book is by Joe Celko, the answer is yes. "Data and Databases: Concepts in Practice" is the first introduction to relational database technology written especially for practicing IT professionals. If you work mostly outside the database world, this book will ground you in the concepts and overall framework you must master if your data-intensive projects are to be successful. If you're already an experienced database programmer, administrator, analyst, or user, it will let you take a step back from your work and examine the founding principles on which you rely every day-helping you to work smarter, faster, and problem-free. Whatever your field or level of expertise, "Data and Databases" offers you the depth and breadth of vision for which Celko is famous. No one knows the topic as well as he, and no one conveys this knowledge as clearly, as effectively-or as engagingly. Filled with absorbing war stories and no-holds-barred commentary, this is a book you'll pick up again and again, both for the information it holds and for the distinctive style that marks it as genuine Celko.
This work: supports its extensive conceptual information with example code and other practical illustrations; explains fundamental issues such as the nature of data and data modeling, and moves to more specific technical questions such as scales, measurements, and encoding; offers fresh, engaging approaches to basic and not-so-basic issues of database programming, including data entities, relationships and values, data structures, set operations, numeric data, character string data, logical data and operations, and missing data among others; and, covers the conceptual foundations of modern RDBMS technology, making it an ideal choice for students.