First Normal Form (1NF)

If a table has data redundancy and is not properly normalized, then it will be difficult to handle and update the database, without facing data loss. It will also eat up extra memory space and Insertion, Update and Deletion Anomalies are very frequent if database is not normalized.

Normalization is the process of minimizing redundancy from a relation or set of relations. Redundancy in relation may cause insertion, deletion and update anomalies. So, it helps to minimize the redundancy in relations. Normal forms are used to eliminate or reduce redundancy in database tables.

There are various level of normalization. These are some of them:

1. First Normal Form (1NF)
2. Second Normal Form (2NF)
3. Third Normal Form (3NF) 
4. Boyce-Codd Normal Form (BCNF)
5. Forth Normal Form (4NF)
6. Fifth Normal Form (5NF) 

In this article, we will discuss First Normal Form (1NF).

First Normal Form (1NF):
If a relation contain composite or multi-valued attribute, it violates first normal form, or a relation is in first normal form if it does not contain any composite or multi-valued attribute. A relation is in first normal form if every attribute in that relation is singled valued attribute.

A table is in 1 NF iff:

  1. There are only Single Valued Attributes.
  2. Attribute Domain does not change.
  3. There is a Unique name for every Attribute/Column.
  4. The order in which data is stored, does not matter.

Consider the examples given below.

Relation STUDENT in table 1 is not in 1NF because of multi-valued attribute STUD_PHONE. Its decomposition into 1NF has been shown in table 2.


ID   Name   Courses
1    A      c1, c2
2    E      c3
3    M      C2, c3 

In the above table Course is a multi valued attribute so it is not in 1NF.

Below Table is in 1NF as there is no multi valued attribute:

ID   Name   Course
1    A       c1
1    A       c2
2    E       c3
3    M       c1
3    M       c2

Note: A database design is considered as bad, if it is not even in the first Normal Form (1NF).

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