Relational databases are at the core of many software applications. These databases can only function as intended if the relationships between database tables are defined correctly. It’s not enough to just say that one database table has information about an employee, and another database table has information about their position at the company; you have to specify how one employee can have multiple positions, or how a single position can be held by multiple employees.
When should you define relationships between your database tables?
You should define relationships between your database tables when you have data that is related in some way. For example, if you have a table of users and a table of posts, you would want to define a relationship between the two so that you can easily pull up all of the posts for a specific user.
In order to do this, you’ll need to create a new table with two columns – one called user_id and one called post_id. Now whenever you enter a post into the posts table, you will also need to enter an ID for the corresponding user in the users table. If you ever want to pull up all of the posts for a particular user, just put their ID number into the query box and select the appropriate values from each column! It’s as easy as pie.
When should you use a one-to-many relationship?
In a one-to-many relationship, one record in a table can be related to multiple records in another table. For example, one customer can have many orders. To create a one-to-many relationship, you need a primary key in the first table (the one side) and a foreign key in the second table (the many sides). The foreign key is used to link the two tables together.
It contains the primary key of the other table as well as an additional column that defines what type of relationship it has with that table. As such, every row in this new column must contain a value of either 0 or 1. A 0 means that there are no rows linking this row’s primary key to this column’s foreign key; a 1 means that there is at least one row linking this row’s primary key to this column’s foreign key. So for example, if our customers’ names were their primary keys and their order numbers were their foreign keys, then we would say 1 for each order number where the customer name matched up.
What if my table only has two columns?
If your table only has two columns, it’s likely that you’re dealing with a one-to-one relationship. This means that for each record in the first column, there is only one corresponding record in the second column. For example, you might have a table with a list of names and Social Security numbers. In this case, each name would be linked to only one Social Security number. What if my table has three or more columns?: Sometimes, a single column may not accurately describe how the data are related.
That’s when you need to define relationships between tables. The three types of relationships are called one-to-many, many-to-one, and many-to-many relationships. A one-to-many relationship means that each row in the first table will correspond to at least one row in the second table. A classic example of this type of relationship is a blog post being written by multiple authors (each blog post will have at least one author). A many-to-one relationship means that every row in the first table will correspond to only one row in the second table.
An example of this type of relationship is an organization having employees (every employee corresponds to exactly one organization). Finally, a many-to-many relationship means that rows from both tables can correspond to other rows from both tables as well.