The larger your database, the higher the possibility of data repetition and inaccuracies that compromise the results you pull from the database. Normalization in DBMS exists to counteract those problems by helping you to create more uniform databases in which redundancies are less likely to occur.


Mastering normalization is a key skill in DBMS for the simple fact that an error-strewn database is of no use to an organization. For example, a retailer that has to deal with a database that has multiple entries for phone numbers and email addresses is a retailer that can’t see as effectively as one that has a simple route to the customer. Let’s look at normalization in DBMS and how it helps you to create a more organized database.


The Concept of Normalization


Grab a pack of playing cards and throw them onto the floor. Now, pick up the “Jack of Hearts.” It’s a tough task because the cards are strewn all over the place. Some are facing down and there’s no rhyme, reason, or pattern to how the cards lie, meaning you’re going to have to check every card individually to find the one you want.


That little experiment shows you how critical organization is, even with a small set of “data.” It also highlights the importance of normalization in DBMS. Through normalization, you implement organizational controls using a set of principles designed to achieve the following:


  • Eliminate redundancy – Lower (or eliminate) occurrences of data repeating across different tables, or inside individual tables, in your DBMS.
  • Minimize data anomalies – Better organization makes it easier to spot datasets that don’t fit the “norm,” meaning fewer anomalies.
  • Improve data integrity – More accurate data comes from normalization controls. Database users can feel more confident in their results because they know that the controls ensure integrity.

The Process of Normalization


If normalization in DBMS is all about organization, it stands to reason that they would be a set process to follow when normalizing your tables and database:


  1. Decompose your tables – Break every table down into its various parts, which may lead to you creating several tables out of one. Through decomposition, you separate different datasets, eliminate inconsistencies, and set the stage for creating relationships and dependencies between tables.
  2. Identify functional dependencies – An attribute in one table may be dependent on another to exist. For example, a “Customer ID” number in a retailer’s “Customer” table is functionally dependent on the “Customer Name” field because the ID can’t exist without the customer. Identifying these types of dependencies ensures you don’t end up with empty records (such as a record with a “Customer ID” and no customer attached to it).
  3. Apply normalization rules – Once you’re broken down your table and identified the functional dependencies, you apply relevant normalization rules. You’ll use Normal Forms to do this, with the six highlighted below each having its own rules, structures, and use cases.

Normal Forms in DBMS


There isn’t a “single” way to achieve normalization in DBMS because every database (and the tables it contains) is different. Instead, there are six normal forms you may use, with each having its own rules that you need to understand to figure out which to apply.


First Normal Form (1NF)


If a relation can’t contain multiple values, it’s in 1NF. In other words, each attribute in the table can only contain a single (called “atomic”) value.


Example


If a retailer wants to store the details of its customers, it may have attributes in its table like “Customer Name,” “Phone Number,” and “Email Address.” By applying 1NF to this table, you ensure that the attributes that could contain multiple entries (“Phone Number” and “Email Address”) only contain one, making contacting that customer much simpler.


Second Normal Form (2NF)


A table that’s in 2NF is in 1NF, with the additional condition that none of its non-prime attributes depend on a subset of candidate keys within the table.


Example


Let’s say an employer wants to create a table that contains information about an employee, the skills they have, and their age. An employee may have multiple skills, leading to multiple records for the same employee in the table, with each denoting a skill while the ID number and age of the employee repeat for each record.


In this table, you’ve achieved 1NF because each attribute has an atomic value. However, the employee’s age is dependent on the employee ID number. To achieve 2NF, you’d break this table down into two tables. The first will contain the employee’s ID number and age, with that ID number linking to a second table that lists each of the skills associated with the employee.


Third Normal Form (3NF)


In 3NF, the table you have must already be in 2NF form, with the added rule of removing the transitive functional dependency of the non-prime attribute of any super key. Transitive functional dependency occurs if the dependency is the result of a pair of functional dependencies. For example, the relationship between A and C is a transitive dependency if A depends on B, B depends on C, but B doesn’t depend on A.


Example


Let’s say a school creates a “Students” table with the following attributes:


  • Student ID
  • Name
  • Zip Code
  • State
  • City
  • District

In this case, the “State,” “District,” and “City” attributes all depend on the “Zip Code” attribute. That “Zip” attribute depends on the “Student ID” attribute, making “State,” “District,” and “City” all transitively depending on “Student ID.”


To resolve this problem, you’d create a pair of tables – “Student” and “Student Zip.” The “Student” table contains the “Student ID,” “Name,” and “Zip Code” attributes, with that “Zip Code” attribute being the primary key of a “Student Zip” table that contains the rest of the attributes and links to the “Student” table.



Boyce-Codd Normal Form (BCNF)


Often referred to as 3.5NF, BCNF is a stricter version of 3NF. So, this normalization in DBMS rule occurs if your table is in 3NF, and for every functional dependence between two fields (i.e., A -> B), A is the super key of your table.


Example


Sticking with the school example, every student in a school has multiple classes. The school has a table with the following fields:


  • Student ID
  • Nationality
  • Class
  • Class Type
  • Number of Students in Class

You have several functional dependencies here:


  • Student ID -> Nationality
  • Class -> Number of Students in Class, Class Type

As a result, both the “Student ID” and “Class” attributes are candidate keys but can’t serve as keys alone. To achieve BCNF normalization, you’d break the above table into three – “Student Nationality,” “Student Class,” and “Class Mapping,” allowing “Student ID” and “Class” to serve as primary keys in their own tables.


Fourth Normal Form (4NF)


In 4NF, the database must meet the requirements of BCNF, in addition to containing no more than a single multivalued dependency. It’s often used in academic circles, as there’s little use for 4NF elsewhere.


Example


Let’s say a college has a table containing the following fields:


  • College Course
  • Lecturer
  • Recommended Book

Each of these attributes is independent of the others, meaning each can change without affecting the others. For example, the college could change the lecturer of a course without altering the recommended reading or the course’s name. As such, the existence of the course depends on both the “Lecturer” and “Recommended Book” attributes, creating a multivalued dependency. If a DBMS has more than one of these types of dependencies, it’s a candidate for 4NF normalization.


Fifth Normal Form (5NF)


If your table is in 4NF, has no join dependencies, and all joining is lossless, it’s in 5NF. Think of this as the final form when it comes to normalization in DBMS, as you’ve broken your table down so much that you’ve made redundancy impossible.


Example


A college may have a table that tells them which lecturers teach certain subjects during which semesters, creating the following attributes:


  • Subject
  • Lecturer Name
  • Semester

Let’s say one of the lecturers teaches both “Physics” and “Math” for “Semester 1,” but doesn’t teach “Math” for Semester 2. That means you need to combine all of the fields in this table to get an accurate dataset, leading to redundancy. Add a third semester to the mix, especially if that semester has no defined courses or lecturers, and you have to join dependencies.


The 5NF solution is to break this table down into three tables:


  • Table 1 – Contains the “Semester” and “Subject” attributes to show which subjects are taught in each semester.
  • Table 2 – Contains the “Subject” and “Lecturer Name” attributes to show which lecturers teach a subject.
  • Table 3 – Contains the “Semester” and “Lecturer Name” attributes so you can see which lecturers teach during which semesters.

Benefits of Normalization in DBMS


With normalization in DBMS being so much work, you need to know the following benefits to show that it’s worth your effort:


  • Improved database efficiency
  • Better data consistency
  • Easier database maintenance
  • Simpler query processing
  • Better access controls, resulting in superior security

Limitations and Trade-Offs of Normalization


Normalization in DBMS does have some drawbacks, though these are trade-offs that you accept for the above benefits:


  • The larger your database gets, the more demands it places on system performance.
  • Breaking tables down leads to complexity.
  • You have to find a balance between normalization and denormalization to ensure your tables make sense.

Practical Tips for Mastering Normalization Techniques


Getting normalization in DBMS is hard, especially when you start feeling like you’re dividing tables into so many small tables that you’re losing track of the database. These tips help you apply normalization correctly:


  • Understand the database requirements – Your database exists for you to extract data from it, so knowing what you’ll need to extract indicates whether you need to normalize tables or not.
  • Document all functional dependencies – Every functional dependence that exists in your database makes the table in which it exists a candidate for normalization. Identify each dependency and document it so you know whether you need to break the table down.
  • Use software and tools – You’re not alone when poring through your database. There are plenty of tools available that help you to identify functional dependencies. Many make normalization suggestions, with some even being able to carry out those suggestions for you.
  • Review and refine – Every database evolves alongside its users, so continued refining is needed to identify new functional dependencies (and opportunities for normalization).
  • Collaborate with other professionals – A different set of eyes on a database may reveal dependencies and normalization opportunities that you don’t see.

Make Normalization Your New Norm


Normalization may seem needlessly complex, but it serves the crucial role of making the data you extract from your database more refined, accurate, and free of repetition. Mastering normalization in DBMS puts you in the perfect position to create the complex databases many organizations need in a Big Data world. Experiment with the different “normal forms” described in this article as each application of the techniques (even for simple tables) helps you get to grips with normalization.

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Il Sole 24 Ore: 100 thousand IT professionals missing
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OPIT - Open Institute of Technology
May 14, 2024 6 min read

Written on April 24th 2024

Source here: Il Sole 24 Ore (full article in Italian)


Open Institute of Technology: 100 thousand IT professionals missing

Eurostat data processed and disseminated by OPIT. Stem disciplines: the share of graduates in Italy between the ages of 20 and 29 is 18.3%, compared to the European 21.9%

Today, only 29% of young Italians between 25 and 34 have a degree. Not only that: compared to other European countries, the comparison is unequal given that the average in the Old Continent is 46%, bringing Italy to the penultimate place in this ranking, ahead only of Romania. The gap is evident even if the comparison is limited to STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) where the share of graduates in Italy between the ages of 20 and 29 is 18.3%, compared to the European 21.9%, with peaks of virtuosity which in the case of France that reaches 29.2%. Added to this is the continuing problem of the mismatch between job supply and demand, so much so that 62.8% of companies struggle to find professionals in the technological and IT fields.

The data

The Eurostat data was processed and disseminated by OPIT – Open Institute of Technology. an academic institution accredited at European level, active in the university level education market with online Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in the technological and digital fields. We are therefore witnessing a phenomenon with worrying implications on the future of the job market in Italy and on the potential loss of competitiveness of our companies at a global level, especially if inserted in a context in which the macroeconomic scenario in the coming years will undergo a profound discontinuity linked to the arrival of “exponential” technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and robotics, but also to the growing threats related to cybersecurity.

Requirements and updates

According to European House Ambrosetti, over 2,000,000 professionals will have to update their skills in the Digital and IT area by 2026, also to take advantage of the current 100,000 vacant IT positions, as estimated by Frank Recruitment Group. But not only that: the Italian context, which is unfavorable for providing the job market with graduates and skills, also has its roots in the chronic birth rate that characterizes our country: according to ISTAT data, in recent years the number of newborns has fallen by 28%, bringing Italy’s birth rate to 1.24, among the lowest in Europe, where the average is 1.46.

Profumo: “Structural deficiency”

“The chronic problem of the absence of IT professionals is structural and of a dual nature: on one hand the number of newborns – therefore, potential “professionals of the future” – is constantly decreasing; on the other hand, the percentage of young people who acquires degrees are firmly among the lowest in Europe”, declared Francesco Profumo, former Minister of Education and rector of OPIT – Open Institute of Technology. “The reasons are varied: from the cost of education (especially if undertaken off-site), to a university offering that is poorly aligned with changes in society, to a lack of awareness and orientation towards STEM subjects, which guarantee the highest employment rates. Change necessarily involves strong investments in the university system (and, in general, in the education system) at the level of the country, starting from the awareness that a functioning education system is the main driver of growth and development in the medium to long term. It is a debated and discussed topic on which, however, a clear and ambitious position is never taken.”

Stagnant context and educational offer

In this stagnant context, the educational offer that comes from online universities increasingly meets the needs of flexibility, quality and cost of recently graduated students, university students looking for specialization and workers interested in updating themselves with innovative skills. According to data from the Ministry of University and Research, enrollments in accredited online universities in Italy have grown by over 141 thousand units in ten years (since 2011), equal to 293.9%. Added to these are the academic institutions accredited at European level, such as OPIT, whose educational offering is overall capable of opening the doors to hundreds of thousands of students, with affordable costs and extremely innovative and updated degree paths.

Analyzing the figures

An analysis of Eurostat statistics relating to the year 2021 highlights that 27% of Europeans aged between 16 and 74 have attended an entirely digital course. The highest share is recorded in Ireland (46%), Finland and Sweden (45%) and the Netherlands (44%). The lowest in Romania (10%), Bulgaria (12%) and Croatia (18%). Italy is at 20%. “With OPIT” – adds Riccardo Ocleppo, founder and director – “we have created a new model of online academic institution, oriented towards new technologies, with innovative programs, a strong practical focus, and an international approach, with professors and students from 38 countries around the world, and teaching in English. We intend to train Italian students not only on current and updated skills, but to prepare them for an increasingly dynamic and global job market. Our young people must be able to face the challenges of the future like those who study at Stanford or Oxford: with solid skills, but also with relational and attitudinal skills that lead them to create global companies and startups or work in multinationals like their international colleagues. The increasing online teaching offer, if well structured and with quality, represents an incredible form of democratization of education, making it accessible at low costs and with methods that adapt to the flexibility needs of many working students.”

Point of reference

With two degrees already starting in September 2023 – a three-year degree (BSc) in Modern Computer Science and a specialization (MSc) in Applied Data Science & AI – and 4 starting in September 2024: a three-year degree (BSc) in Digital Business, and the specializations (MSc) in Enterprise Cybersecurity, Applied Digital Business and Responsible Artificial Intelligence (AI), OPIT is an academic institution of reference for those who intend to respond to the demands of a job market increasingly oriented towards the field of artificial intelligence. Added to this are a high-profile international teaching staff and an exclusively online educational offer focused on the technological and digital fields.

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Times of India: The 600,000 IT job shortage in India and how to solve it
OPIT - Open Institute of Technology
OPIT - Open Institute of Technology
May 2, 2024 3 min read

Written on April 25th 2024

Source here: Times of India 


The job market has never been a straightforward path. Ask anyone who has ever looked for a job, certainly within the last decade, and they can tell you as much. But with the rapid development of AI and machine learning, concerns are growing for people about their career options, with a report from Randstad finding that 7 in 10 people in India are concerned about their job being eliminated by AI.

 Employers have their own share of concerns. According to The World Economic Forum, 97 million new AI-related jobs will be created by 2025 and the share of jobs requiring AI skills will increase by 58%. The IT industry in India is experiencing a tremendous surge in demand for skilled professionals on disruptive technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, cybersecurity and, according to Nasscom, this is leading to a shortage of 600,000 profiles.

 So how do we fill those gaps? Can we democratize access to top-tier higher education in technology?

These are the questions that Riccardo Ocleppo, the engineer who founded a hugely successful ed-tech platform connecting international students with global Universities, Docsity, asked himself for years. Until he took action and launched the Open Institute of Technology (OPIT), together with the Former Minister of Education of Italy, Prof. Francesco Profumo, to help people take control of their future careers.

OPIT offers BSc and MSc degrees in Computer Science, AI, Data Science, Cybersecurity, and Digital Business, attracting students from over 38 countries worldwide. Through innovative learning experiences and affordable tuition fees starting at €4,050 per year, OPIT empowers students to pursue their educational goals without the financial and personal burden of relocating.

The curriculum, delivered through a mix of live and pre-recorded lectures, equips students with the latest technology skills, as well as business and strategic acumen necessary for careers in their chosen fields. Moreover, OPIT’s EU-accredited degrees enable graduates to pursue employment opportunities in Europe, with recognition by WES facilitating transferability to the US and Canada.

OPIT’s commitment to student success extends beyond academics, with a full-fledged career services department led by Mike McCulloch. Remote students benefit from OPIT’s “digital campus,” fostering connections through vibrant discussion forums, online events, and networking opportunities with leading experts and professors.

Faculty at OPIT, hailing from prestigious institutions and industry giants like Amazon and Microsoft, bring a wealth of academic and practical experience to the table. With a hands-on, practical teaching approach, OPIT prepares students for the dynamic challenges of the modern job market.

In conclusion, OPIT stands as a beacon of hope for individuals seeking to future-proof their careers in technology. By democratizing access to high-quality education and fostering a global learning community, OPIT empowers students to seize control of their futures and thrive in the ever-evolving tech landscape.

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