# Functional Dependency

A functional dependency in databases is a dependency which satisfies the properties of a function.

A dependency exists in a database table when an attribute value is dependent on the value of a single or a group of attributes. The dependency is functional when it satisfies the properties of a function and the main property of a function is that it gives a single value for some input. In other words, if the value of dependent attribute/s is same for some value of the determinant attribute/s in all the tuples then it is a functional dependency.

## Symbol

A functional dependency is denoted by *‘→’*

e.g. *A → B*

Where A is the determinant attribute and B is the dependent attribute. A → B can be read as A determines B.

## Types of functional dependencies

**Trivial dependency:** If the dependent is a subset of the determinant. As the name suggests trivial dependency is something which does exist but is of no importance.

e.g. *AB → B*

**Non-Trivial dependency:** In non-trivial dependency the dependent part is not a subset of the determinant part.

**Transitive dependency:** If a functional dependency is achieved through two functional dependencies indirectly then the dependency is called transitive dependency.

e.g. *A → B* and *B → C* suggests *A → C*

## Example

To find out if a dependency is functional check whether the dependent attribute is same for some value of the determinant attribute through out the table.

Consider the following table

Col1 | Col2 | Col3 |
---|---|---|

A | 3 | 5 |

B | 5 | 4 |

A | 3 | 8 |

B | 5 | 4 |

*Col1 → Col2* is valid since the value is same for both As and both Bs.
*Col1 → Col3* is invalid since for the second A the value of Col3 is 8 which should’ve been 5.

Written by Arifullah Jan and last revised on