Definition of a scalar value in a relational database

04 October,2014 by Jack Vamvas

Question: What is a scalar value in a relational database?

Answer:  A scalar value refers to a single value . For example, string number , variable and column. A scalar value is in contrast to a set of values.

In mathematical terms , every point in space is represented as a  scalar value.

Establishing the definition of a scalar value leads us onto Scalar Aggregates and Scalar Functions.  A single value is returned from these constructs.  The MIN() function is an example of a Scalar Aggregate i.e returns one value. GetDate() is a scalar function and returns one value.

Scalar and database design

The concept of scalar extends into database design. Generally, a normalized database will have scalar columns i.e there won’t be multiple values in a column representing different attributes. You wouldn’t place , house number and house color in one column. On a normalized database you’d maintain scalar values by place house number and house color in different columns

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Author: Jack Vamvas (http://www.sqlserver-dba.com)


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