When I use autonumbers for primary keys, I need to prevent the entry of duplicate records. I have been told that...
there is a standard SQL algorithm to prevent the entry of duplicate records, but I do not know where to find it.
Excellent question. One of the problems with using a surrogate key such as an autonumber for the table's primary key is that you can end up with duplicates in the "real" primary key.
Consider the following Product table:
prodID prodCode prodDescription 1 XTBW Widget size 27 2 XTCW Widget size 52 3 XTDW Widget one-size 4 YBWD Widget size 27 5 YBWX Widget size 52
In this scenario, assuming prodID is an autonumber column, you could easily run:
insert into Product ( ProdCode, ProdDescription ) values ( 'XTDW', 'Widget any size' )
This insert would succeed, and now you have two rows with the same prodCode.
The "standard algorithm" you're looking for is the unique constraint.
alter table Product add constraint uniqueprodcode unique (prodCode)
Note that "duplicate records" would have to be equal in all columns. Usually this is not a concern. If it is necessary to check multiple columns for uniqueness of the combinations of values, just list those columns in the UNIQUE clause when defining the constraint. For example,
alter table Customer add constraint uniquecustomer unique (LastName, MiddleInit, FirstName)
For More Information
- Dozens more answers to tough SQL questions from Rudy Limeback.
- The Best SQL Web Links: tips, tutorials, scripts, and more.
- Have an SQL tip to offer your fellow DBAs and developers? The best tips submitted will receive a cool prize. Submit your tip today!
- Ask your technical SQL questions -- or help out your peers by answering them -- in our live discussion forums.
- Ask the Experts yourself: Our SQL, database design, Oracle, SQL Server, DB2, metadata, object-oriented and data warehousing gurus are waiting to answer your toughest questions.
Dig Deeper on Oracle and SQL
Have a question for an expert?
Please add a title for your question
Get answers from a TechTarget expert on whatever's puzzling you.