KEYS in DBMS is an attribute or set of attributes which helps you to identify a row(tuple) in a relation(table). They allow you to find the relation between two tables. Keys help you uniquely identify a row in a table by a combination of one or more columns in that table. Key is also helpful for finding unique record or row from the table. Database key is also helpful for finding unique record or row from the table.
|Employee ID||FirstName||Surname Name|
- Allows you to establish a relationship between and identify the relation between tables.
- Keys help you to identify any row of data in a table. In a real-world application, a table could contain thousands of records. Moreover, the records could be duplicated. Keys in RDBMS ensure that you can uniquely identify a table record despite these challenges.
- Help you to enforce identity and integrity in the relationship.
Super key is an attribute set that can uniquely identify a tuple. A super key is a superset of a candidate key.
For example: In the above EMPLOYEE table, for (EMPLOEE_ID, EMPLOYEE_NAME), the name of two employees can be the same, but their EMPLYEE_ID can’t be the same. Hence, this combination can also be a key.
The super key would be EMPLOYEE-ID (EMPLOYEE_ID, EMPLOYEE-NAME), etc.
There may be one or more attributes or a combination of attributes that uniquely identify each tuple in a relation. These attributes or combinations of the attributes are called the candidate keys. One key is chosen as the primary key from these candidate keys, and the remaining candidate key, if it exists, is termed the alternate key. In other words, the total number of the alternate keys is the total number of candidate keys minus the primary key. The alternate key may or may not exist. If there is only one candidate key in a relation, it does not have an alternate key.
For example, employee relation has two attributes, Employee_Id and PAN_No, that act as candidate keys. In this relation, Employee_Id is chosen as the primary key, so the other candidate key, PAN_No, acts as the Alternate key.
It is the first key used to identify one and only one instance of an entity uniquely. An entity can contain multiple keys, as we saw in the PERSON table. The key which is most suitable from those lists becomes a primary key.
In the EMPLOYEE table, ID can be the primary key since it is unique for each employee. In the EMPLOYEE table, we can even select License_Number and Passport_Number as primary keys since they are also unique.
For each entity, the primary key selection is based on requirements and developers.