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Why Normalization Failed to Become the Ultimate Guide for Database Designers?

41 Pages Posted: 31 May 2006  

Marin Fotache

Al.I.Cuza University of Iasi

Date Written: May 1, 2006


With an impressive theoretical foundation, normalization was supposed to bring rigor and relevance into such a slippery domain as database design is. Almost every database textbook treats normalization in a certain extent, usually suggesting that the topic is so clear and consolidated that it does not deserve deeper discussions. But the reality is completely different. After more than three decades, normalization not only has lost much of its interest in the research papers, but also is still looking for practitioners to apply it effectively. Despite the vast amount of database literature, comprehensive books illustrating the application of normalization to effective real-world applications are still waited. This paper reflects the point of view of an Information Systems academic who incidentally has been for almost twenty years a practitioner in developing database applications. It outlines the main weaknesses of normalization and offers some explanations about the failure of a generous framework in becoming the so much needed universal guide for database designers. Practitioners might be interested in finding out (or confirming) some of the normalization misformulations, misinterpretations, inconsistencies and fallacies. Theorists could find useful the presentation of some issues where the normalization theory was proved to be inadequate, not relevant, or source of confusion.

Keywords: database design, normalization, functional dependencies, multi-valued dependencies, normal forms

JEL Classification: L86, M1

Suggested Citation

Fotache, Marin, Why Normalization Failed to Become the Ultimate Guide for Database Designers? (May 1, 2006). Available at SSRN: or

Marin Fotache (Contact Author)

Al.I.Cuza University of Iasi ( email )

Carol I Blvd, Nr.11
Lasi, 700506
+40744497654 (Phone)
+40 232217000 (Fax)


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