What is a Relational Database?

In the Types of Database post we looked at different types of databases. This post looks at the most common type of database, the relational database. The concept of the relational database was created by a chap called Edgar Codd.  

When is a database a relational database? No this isn't some kind of joke. A database is a relational database when it follows a certain set of rules. These rules are known as the rules of normalisation. Normalization is the process of organising data in a certain way. The point of organising the data in a specific way is to:

  1. Reduce data redundancy - minimize the same piece of data being held in multiple locations in the database
  2. Avoid data modification issues
  3. Simplify retrieving the data

I don't want to go into the step of how you normalize data but there's a brilliant article called Database Normalization Explained in Simple English that explains the whole process deeper but simply.

The main take away from this post should be that relational databases are really good for storing and retrieving data fast and efficiently.