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Introduction of Relational Algebra in DBMS

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  • Difficulty Level : Easy
  • Last Updated : 22 Dec, 2022
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Relational Algebra is a procedural query language, which takes Relation as input and generates relation as output. Relational algebra mainly provides a theoretical foundation for relational databases and SQL. 

Operators in Relational Algebra 

Projection (π) 
Projection is used to project required column data from a relation. 

Example :

Suppose we want column A and B from Relation R.

  (A  B  C)    
   1  2  4
   2  2  3
   3  2  3
   4  3  4
π B,C(R) will show following columns.
B  C
2  4
2  3
3  4

Note: By Default, projection removes duplicate data.   

Selection (σ) 
Selection is used to select required tuples of the relations. 

for the above relation 
σ (c>3)R 
will select the tuples which have c more than 3. 

Note: selection operator only selects the required tuples but does not display them. For display, the data projection operator is used. 

For the above-selected tuples, to display we need to use projection also.

 π (σ (c>3)R ) will show following tuples.

A  B  C
1  2  4
4  3  4

  Union (U) 
Union operation in relational algebra is the same as union operation in set theory, the only constraint is for the union of two relations both relations must have the same set of Attributes.   

Set Difference (-) 
Set Difference in relational algebra is the same set difference operation as in set theory with the constraint that both relations should have the same set of attributes.   

Rename (ρ) 
Rename is a unary operation used for renaming attributes of a relation. ρ (a/b)R will rename the attribute ‘b’ of the relation by ‘a’.   

Cross Product (X) 
Cross product between two relations let’s say A and B, so cross product between A X B will result in all the attributes of A followed by each attribute of B. Each record of A will pair with every record of B. 

below is the example

   A                                  B
    (Name   Age  Sex )                (Id   Course)  
    ------------------                -------------
    Ram    14   M                      1     DS
    Sona   15   F                      2     DBMS
    kim    20   M

     A X B
  Name   Age   Sex   Id   Course
  Ram    14    M      1    DS
  Ram    14    M      2    DBMS
  Sona   15    F      1    DS
  Sona   15    F      2    DBMS
  Kim    20    M      1    DS
  Kim    20    M      2    DBMS

Note: if A has ‘n’ tuples and B has ‘m’ tuples then A X B will have ‘n*m’ tuples.   

Natural Join (⋈) 
Natural join is a binary operator. Natural join between two or more relations will result set of all combinations of tuples where they have an equal common attribute. 

Let us see the below example

           Emp                              Dep
   (Name   Id   Dept_name )          (Dept_name   Manager)
   ------------------------          ---------------------    
     A     120    IT                    Sale     Y
     B     125    HR                    Prod     Z
     C     110    Sale                  IT       A
     D     111    IT                      

Emp ⋈ Dep

Name   Id   Dept_name   Manager
A     120   IT          A 
C     110   Sale        Y
D     111   IT          A

  Conditional Join 
Conditional join works similarly to natural join. In natural join, by default condition is equal between common attributes while in conditional join we can specify any condition such as greater than, less than, or not equal 

Let us see the below example

         R                           S
  (ID   Sex   Marks)          (ID   Sex   Marks)
  ------------------          -------------------- 
   1   F   45                   10   M   20
   2   F   55                   11   M   22
   3   F   60                   12   M   59
Join between R And S with condition  R.marks >= S.marks

R.ID   R.Sex   R.Marks   S.ID   S.Sex   S.Marks
1       F       45        10     M        20
1       F       45        11     M        22
2       F       55        10     M        20
2       F       55        11     M        22
3       F       60        10     M        20
3       F       60        11     M        22
3       F       60        12     M        59

In-depth articles: 
Extended Relational Algebra Operators 

Following are Previous Year Gate Question 

Please write comments if you find anything incorrect, or you want to share more information about the topic discussed above.

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