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Beginning SQL Queries: From Novice to Professional Paperback – Apr 16 2008
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About the Author
Clare Churcher is currently a senior lecturer in the Department of Applied Computing at Lincoln University, New Zealand. She holds a degree in physics with first class honors and completed a Ph.D in physics at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. She has done postdoctoral research in the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge, England. Clare s research interests are in the management and visualization of data especially for scientific research. She has a background in database design, and has taught programming, analysis and design of information systems, and database management at undergraduate level, as well as software engineering and scientific visualization at post graduate level.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Knowing Clare's style, I have been extremely surprised by some of the reviews of this book, which are rather harsh. I got a copy of "Beginning SQL Queries", and read it to have an opinion of my own.
Several reviewers complain about the references to algebra and calculus; I think they have missed Clare's point, which was to show that there are two writing styles with SQL. She could have called them style A and style B, but unfortunately she is rather precise in what she writes and chose to call them by their received names of algebra and calculus, which I agree are dirty names. Which one is algebra and which one is calculus is usually something I forget very fast, and I've practiced SQL for a quarter of a century; believe me, you can use both styles without knowing their names.
I also take objection to one reviewer's comment that "it is clear the author doesn't actually understand SQL. A table alias is not a 'row variable'". Perhaps Clare didn't make her point clear enough; but when you write a correlated subquery, as in
from ta outer
from tb inner
where inner.id = outer.id)
"outer" (the table alias) in the subquery actually refers to the current row from the outer query. Perhaps an unusual way to introduce the topic; but I have always believed that the goal of a book should be to intellectually challenge the reader and bring him or her to see the topic in a different light.
All this being said, I'm not convinced by some aspects of the book. For one thing, if the author actually starts from the "novice" stage, she doesn't really bring the reader to the "professional" stage in my humble opinion; the coverage of topics like indexing is light, and none of the examples is even remotely as complex as what I routinely encounter. This makes the introduction (fortunately discrete) of formal notations look like an overkill with no real added value. Better to concentrate on the figures, which are extremely clear.
If you just wish to make some quick and dirty SQL job, "Beginning SQL Queries" is probably not a book for you - I guess that any tutorial on the web and a bit of trial and error will get you started. You won't go very far, but sometimes you don't want to.
I rather see this book as a good bridge between college and the professional world - it combines the rigor of text books (although it doesn't theorize, all the key points from the theory are here) with the conversational tone of books that are aimed at the professional world; strictly correct without being dry. It will not turn you into a full-blown database professional, but if what you have seen - or not seen - at school is hazy and if you are serious about ensuring that you have sound foundations, reading "Beginning SQL Queries" is a good way to start.
I also like the way book tackles the subject from two different angles - she calls it the Algebra or Calculus angles. Sounds mathematical but it simply means that when you're got a complicated problem you've got twice the chance of finding a solution.
This book comes totally recommended. I became quite intrigued by the stuff about how you should design your database right that I'm now reading her book on Database Design.
Two different ways to approach a query are introduced in the book, the "algebra" or "how-approach" and the "calculus" or "what-approach". Why two approaches? According to the book, student classes are equally divided in which approach they prefer. With two approaches to choose from there is a greater chance that anyone reading this book will find it useful. I'm personally greatly helped by the "what-approach" in reviewing old SQL code as well as writing new queries.
This book is a must for anyone learning SQL for the first time. In addition, it provides a refreshing new way of looking at SQL code for those who already know the basics.
You might as well understand what a database is, what it does, and why they work the way they do. Clare Churcher assumes that the reader of this book wants to start from a solid base with the intention of moving on with the skills they need to become a professional. I appreciate her approach. I don't feel as if Churcher is insulting my ability or intelligence. As it says on the cover, "A thoughtful approach to learning SQL that helps you think about language--and about your data--so that you can apply the right operations to the right problem to generate the right results, every time."
This title is worth your attention. Buy it, read it, and you'll have the skills you need.
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