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What is a particular row/column called? Expand / Collapse
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Posted Thursday, May 15, 2014 11:01 AM


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I always end up saying "This row's, column's value is x." but it sounds confusing. Is there a standard term for the "cell" being referred to in a table?

Perhaps:
Row/Col coordinate
Intersection
Cell
Tuple
Field


Developers tend to use inappropriate flat file terms such as records, fields, replace, add, erase, etc.
I've tried to teach them that:
I INSERT rows - not CREATE them.
I CREATE TABLES - not ADD them.
I ADD columns to tables - not insert them.
And of course I always create NEW tables, otherwise I'd get a "table already exists" error. Is NEW always redundant in requests?
Post #1571437
Posted Thursday, May 15, 2014 12:43 PM


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In mathematical theory, a tuple (which is what we call a row, and a table is a relation btw) consists of ordered elements.
However, if you say element, no one will know what you mean
In relation theory, they usually use attribute.




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Post #1571487
Posted Thursday, May 15, 2014 7:34 PM


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The safe thing to talk about is the value of a column in a row or the value of an attribute of a row. Most people will understand either of those, and not object to that terminology. You would do well to avoid "tuple" and "element" because using the former in relational theory is a either a nasty misuse of a well understood term of set theory and using the latter presupposes the former (and anyway, as Koen pointed out, almost no-one will understand what you mean by it) - of course when implementing a data-engine to allow databases that behave in (or at least somewhere near) accordance with relational theory it's common to use a tuple to represent a row (the properties of a rowthat aren't represented in a tuple are held in metadata and the relation or table level).

Tom
Post #1571575
Posted Monday, May 19, 2014 7:32 AM


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I usually just refer to row and column. They may not be 100% ISO approved terms, but, everyone knows what you're referring to for the most part. And if we're explaining things, the most important goal of the explanation is clarity. So we could use tuple and element to explain stuff, but then we have to go back and explain tuple and element and, at least to my mind, there's no additional clarity added by using tuple and element. Frankly, that would be an indication of a wish to be pedantic rather than a wish to help people out.

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Post #1572272
Posted Monday, May 19, 2014 7:35 AM


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Grant Fritchey (5/19/2014)
I usually just refer to row and column. They may not be 100% ISO approved terms, but, everyone knows what you're referring to for the most part. And if we're explaining things, the most important goal of the explanation is clarity. So we could use tuple and element to explain stuff, but then we have to go back and explain tuple and element and, at least to my mind, there's no additional clarity added by using tuple and element. Frankly, that would be an indication of a wish to be pedantic rather than a wish to help people out.


How do you refer to the intersection of a row and a column?




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Post #1572277
Posted Monday, May 19, 2014 7:50 AM


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Koen Verbeeck (5/19/2014)
Grant Fritchey (5/19/2014)
I usually just refer to row and column. They may not be 100% ISO approved terms, but, everyone knows what you're referring to for the most part. And if we're explaining things, the most important goal of the explanation is clarity. So we could use tuple and element to explain stuff, but then we have to go back and explain tuple and element and, at least to my mind, there's no additional clarity added by using tuple and element. Frankly, that would be an indication of a wish to be pedantic rather than a wish to help people out.


How do you refer to the intersection of a row and a column?


If we're talking about a specific design, I just say something like "That's in the City column" and let people infer that I'm also referring to a row and an intersection of the two. If we're talking theory, I'll probably say "The value of that column in that row" and not refer to the intersection as any particular object name. That's because, unlike column & row, cell isn't commonly used by people.

All this is assuming we're talking teaching DBAs, developers, report writers, management and business people. Those are my audience. If, on the other hand, I was teaching database theory to mathematicians, different audience, different approach. But then, you wouldn't want me teaching database theory to those people.

But, remember, I get winged by all you guys because I don't go in for precise terminology use in all cases.


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Post #1572284
Posted Monday, May 19, 2014 3:23 PM


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Grant Fritchey (5/19/2014)
Koen Verbeeck (5/19/2014)
[quote]Grant Fritchey (5/19/2014)
I usually just refer to row and column. They may not be 100% ISO approved terms, but, everyone knows what you're referring to for the most part. And if we're explaining things, the most important goal of the explanation is clarity. So we could use tuple and element to explain stuff, but then we have to go back and explain tuple and element and, at least to my mind, there's no additional clarity added by using tuple and element. Frankly, that would be an indication of a wish to be pedantic rather than a wish to help people out.


How do you refer to the intersection of a row and a column?


If we're talking about a specific design, I just say something like "That's in the City column" and let people infer that I'm also referring to a row and an intersection of the two. If we're talking theory, I'll probably say "The value of that column in that row" and not refer to the intersection as any particular object name. That's because, unlike column & row, cell isn't commonly used by people.

Yes, that's the right approach. Anyway, cells are things in spreadsheets, not in databases.
[quote]
All this is assuming we're talking teaching DBAs, developers, report writers, management and business people. Those are my audience. If, on the other hand, I was teaching database theory to mathematicians, different audience, different approach. But then, you wouldn't want me teaching database theory to those people.

Anyone competent uses row and column or row and attribute when teaching matchematicians and computer scientists about databases and relational (database) theory. I don't believe that would be silly enough to change from calling a row a row although I guess you might switch from "column" to "attribute" (I use both when talking to mathematicians and computer scientists, and it causes no problems).

But, remember, I get winged by all you guys because I don't go in for precise terminology use in all cases.

What's imprecise about "row" or "column"?


Tom
Post #1572463
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