Publication of the week: Adam Floyd & Hongbo Du

4 August 2014

A. Floyd & H. Du, “Edna: a Software Tool for Verifying Normalisation of Relations during Logical Database Design Process”, 12th HEA STEM Workshop on Teaching, Learning and Assessment of Databases (University of Southampton: Higher Education Academy, July 2014), 51-61

Logical design of relational databases is an important part of a typical undergraduate database module in a range of computing curricula such as software engineering, computer science, computing, business computing, information systems, etc. A crucial part of logical design is normalisation, which is often perceived as a difficult topic to study by students and not so easy to teach by lecturers. This paper presents a software tool named EDNA that aims to automate the normalisation of relation schemes to 2NF, 3NF or BCNF. Upon user request, EDNA can generate standard SQL statements necessary for the creation of tables of the normalised schemes for a number of designated database management systems. EDNA is equipped with a simple interface that allows the user to enter a list of attributes and specify or edit functional dependencies among the attributes with ease. The software can be used as a teaching tool for verifying the validity of manually normalised relation schemes, aiming to enhance the student learning experience of the topic.

The paper is very much based on Adam Floyd’s final year undergraduate project in 2013. The paper was submitted by Adam and his tutor Hongbo Du and accepted by the Higher Education Academy’s 12th Annual HEA STEM Workshop on Teaching, Learning and Assessment of Databases, which is a major event on the HEA agenda. The forum is for lecturers from universities all over the UK (and indeed abroad as well) to share their experiences in teaching this fundamental subject in computing. This year’s event was held in Southampton Solent University and was attended by about 30 delegates from different universities. Adam gave a very impressive presentation at the conference, which was very well received.

Adam Floyd graduated from Applied Computing last year with a first class honours degree. Adam is a local student from Buckingham, and started his degree in January 2012. With 24 out of 24 module components of his programme of study in the first class category, Adam was awarded the Edgar Palamountain Medal for Excellence at the graduation ceremony at the beginning of this year. His excellent performance also earned him the British Computer Society Buckingham Award for the Best Graduating Undergraduate Student. Adam is now registered as a MSc by Research student, conducting research in unstructured data modelling, and is also a member of a team that is developing a database system for the newly established medical school.