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SQL: The Standard RDBMS Language

The Structured Query Language (SQL) is the lingua franca of all relational database management systems (RDBMS). The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) accepted SQL as the standard relational database language in October 1986 (ANSI X3.135-1986). SQL has also been accepted by the International Standards Organization (ISO standard 9075) and by the U.S. government in the Federal Information Processing Standard FIPS-127. A security enhancement has been added and is covered in ANSI SQL Addendum I and issued as X3.135-1989 and 9075-1989. SQL92 is the most recent standard, and Oracle’s implementation is entry-level-compliant and has numerous extensions that make it one of the best SQL implementations available. Oracle9i SQL is documented in Oracle9i SQL Reference, Release 1(9.0.1), Part No. A90125-01, June 2001, Oracle Corporation. The latest SQL standard, simply titled SQL3, was supposed to be approved by 1999;however, not much is being said about it since its initial release in 1999, so it would appear to have stalled. Fortunately, much of the Oracle object features are supposedly SQL3- (SQL99-; described below) and ODMG-standard-compliant.  

The latest SQL standard, published by ANSI and ISO, is often called SQL99. The formal names of the new standard are:

ANSI X3.135-1999, “Database Language SQL,” Parts 1 ("Framework"), 2 ("Foundation"), ("Bindings")ISO/IEC 9075:1999, “Database Language SQL,” Parts 1 ("Framework"), 2 ("Foundation"), 3 ("Bindings")

The Oracle9i server, Oracle precompilers for C/C++ release 8.1, Oracle Precompiler for  COBOL, release 8.1, and SQL*Module for ADA release 8.0.4 provide full or partial conformance with the ANSI and ISO standards. The Oracle SQL Reference Manual, Release 1 (9.0.1) provides charts in Appendix B that show which sections of the database are in compliance, and more important, which are not.    

NIST testing of database compliance has been suspended, so we have to take the vendors’ word (Oracle) about compliance for SQL3.     

SQL is considered to be a nonprocedural language, because of the way it processes sets of records and provides automatic data access, or navigation. SQL also uses query optimization; that is, the RDBMS kernel determines the optimum method to reach the desired data so you don’t have to. Under Oracle8, Oracle8i, and Oracle9i, a cost-based or a rules-based approach can be used. SQL is designed to be simple to learn and use. Despite this simplicity, SQL provides a rich command set under which virtually any combination of data in a database can be retrieved and reported.

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