# Introduction to Relational Theory

In this post, we will cover the relational theory of databases. This will help us set the stage for comparison with categorical database theory later on in the series.

**Rem:** In what follows, we fix a countably infinite set $\mathsf{Dom}$, called the **domain**, whose elements $c \in \mathsf{Dom}$ we call **constants**. There will be much to say about the domain later.

We also note that everything we present in what follows is known as the **unnamed relational formalism**. There is an alternative **named relational formalism**, which requires a set of attributes. These are different frameworks that are ultimately equivalent. There are pros and cons to both formalisms: the unnamed formalism is mathematically simpler and closer to traditional model theory, which is why I chose it for this post, but the named formalism allows for the definition of a natural join operation, and tends to be used more by database theorists.

**Def:** A **relational database schema** consists of a set $\mathbf{R}$, whose elements we call **relation symbols**, along with a function $\text{ar}: \mathbf{R} \to \mathbb{N}$ called the **arity function**. If $R \in \mathbf{R}$, and $\text{ar}(R) = n$, then we say that $R$ has **arity** $n$.