The Art of SQL

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"O'Reilly Media, Inc.", Mar 10, 2006 - Computers - 372 pages
11 Reviews

For all the buzz about trendy IT techniques, data processing is still at the core of our systems, especially now that enterprises all over the world are confronted with exploding volumes of data. Database performance has become a major headache, and most IT departments believe that developers should provide simple SQL code to solve immediate problems and let DBAs tune any "bad SQL" later.

In The Art of SQL, author and SQL expert Stephane Faroult argues that this "safe approach" only leads to disaster. His insightful book, named after Art of War by Sun Tzu, contends that writing quick inefficient code is sweeping the dirt under the rug. SQL code may run for 5 to 10 years, surviving several major releases of the database management system and on several generations of hardware. The code must be fast and sound from the start, and that requires a firm understanding of SQL and relational theory.

The Art of SQL offers best practices that teach experienced SQL users to focus on strategy rather than specifics. Faroult's approach takes a page from Sun Tzu's classic treatise by viewing database design as a military campaign. You need knowledge, skills, and talent. Talent can't be taught, but every strategist from Sun Tzu to modern-day generals believed that it can be nurtured through the experience of others. They passed on their experience acquired in the field through basic principles that served as guiding stars amid the sound and fury of battle. This is what Faroult does with SQL.

Like a successful battle plan, good architectural choices are based on contingencies. What if the volume of this or that table increases unexpectedly? What if, following a merger, the number of users doubles? What if you want to keep several years of data online? Faroult's way of looking at SQL performance may be unconventional and unique, but he's deadly serious about writing good SQL and using SQL well. The Art of SQL is not a cookbook, listing problems and giving recipes. The aim is to get you-and your manager-to raise good questions.


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Review: The Art of SQL

User Review  - Jeremy Carman - Goodreads

Great book. Some really useful deep knowledge in it. Read full review

Review: The Art of SQL

User Review  - Goodreads

Great book. Some really useful deep knowledge in it. Read full review


Laying Plans
Waging War
Tactical Dispositions
The Nine Situations
Variations in Tactics
Weaknesses and Strengths
Multiple Fronts
Assembly of Forces
Employment of Spies
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Page 13 - Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns— the ones we don't know...
Page 32 - Logic is doubtless unshakable, but it cannot withstand a man who wants to go on living. Where was the Judge whom he had never seen? Where was the High Court, to which he had never penetrated? He raised his hands and spread out all his fingers.
Page 26 - ... guerre est un grand drame, dans lequel mille causes morales ou physiques agissent plus ou moins fortement, et qu'on ne saurait réduire à des calculs mathématiques. Mais je dois également l'avouer sans détour, vingt ans d'expérience n'ont fait que me fortifier dans les convictions ci-après: «II existe un petit nombre de principes fondamentaux de la guerre, dont on ne saurait s'écarter sans danger, et dont l'application au contraire a été presque en tout temps couronnée par le succès....

About the author (2006)

Stephane Faroult first discovered relational databases and the SQL language back in 1983. He joined Oracle France in their early days (after a brief spell with IBM and a bout of teaching at the University of Ottawa) and soon developed an interest in performance and tuning topics. After leaving Oracle in 1988, he briefly tried to reform and did a bit of operational research, but after one year, he succumbed again to relational databases. He has been continuously performing database consultancy since then, and founded RoughSea Ltd in 1998.

Peter Robson is Reader in Law at University of Strathclyde.

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