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Candidate Keys - Primary keys in Oracle

Posted on 2013-12-10
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This was the interview question I had :

What are candidate keys? Suppose three candidate keys have been identified. Which one will become the primary key? Can all three candidate keys be made into composite primary key?
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Question by:d27m11y
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LVL 23

Assisted Solution

by:David
David earned 1000 total points
ID: 39708999
Second question, yes, provided the concatenated string that results is unique.

You answered the first question:  candidates are potential primary key fields.  Between the business requirements, and the architect, a selection must be made on what's the best choice.

An Internet search will yield you examples and specifics.

HTH
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Author Comment

by:d27m11y
ID: 39709090
Can I say that candidate key is the key column that uniquely identifies the data in a row and the candidate key could be composite primary key provided it is unique.

Please confirm if I understand right !
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LVL 23

Expert Comment

by:David
ID: 39709170
Correct.  Candidate key is the classroom term, I'm told.  Oracle does not use the term, but does use the concept.
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awking00 earned 1000 total points
ID: 39709412
>>Can I say that candidate key is the key column that uniquely identifies the data in a row<<
I would say it slightly differently -
A candidate key is a column or combination of columns that will always define a unique row.
Assume table x has cola, colb, and colc with the following values:
a1, b1, c1
a2, b2, c2
a3, b3, c3
In this case uniqueness can be defined by [cola], [colb], [colc], [cola,colb], [cola,colc], [colb,colc), or [cola,colb,colc]
However, if table x could have a row such as a1, b2, c3, the only candidate key would be [cola,colb,colc]

>>and the candidate key could be composite primary key provided it is unique.<<
Correct as demonstrated above
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Author Closing Comment

by:d27m11y
ID: 39709430
Understood.
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