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Define the term surrogate key?

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Define the term surrogate key?
posted Mar 12, 2015 by Sachin

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1 Answer

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Surrogate Key:

Surrogate keys are widely used and accepted design standard in data warehouses. It is sequentially generated unique number attached with each and every record in a Dimension table in any Data Warehouse. It join between the fact and dimension tables and is necessary to handle changes in dimension table attributes.

Surrogate Key (SK) is sequentially generated meaningless unique number attached with each and every record in a table in any Data Warehouse (DW).

It is UNIQUE since it is sequentially generated integer for each record being inserted in the table.

It is MEANINGLESS since it does not carry any business meaning regarding the record it is attached to in any table.

It is SEQUENTIAL since it is assigned in sequential order as and when new records are created in the table, starting with one and going up to the highest number that is needed.

Other Definition:

Surrogate key is the primary key for the Dimensional table. Surrogate key is a substitution for the natural primary key.
Data warehouses typically use a surrogate, (also known as artificial or identity key), key for the dimension tables primary keys. They can use Infa sequence generator, or Oracle sequence, or SQL Server Identity values for the surrogate key.

It is useful because the natural primary key (i.e. Customer Number in Customer table) can change and this makes updates more difficult and also used in SCDs to preserve historical data.

answer Mar 12, 2015 by Manikandan J
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