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Archive for February 27th, 2010

Six degrees of separation

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Answering questions asked on the site.

Kathy asks:

I am developing a social network site in PostgreSQL and want to find out if two people are no more than 6 friends apart.

If your site grows popular, most probably, they are not. But we better check.

On most social networks, friendship is a symmetric relationship (however, LiveJournal is a notable exception). This means that if Alice is a friend to Bob, then Bob is a friend to Alice as well.

The friendship relationship is best stored in a many-to-many link table with a PRIMARY KEY on both link fields and an additional check condition: the friend with the least id should be stored in the first column. This is to avoid storing a relationship twice: a PRIMARY KEY won't be violated if the same record with the columns swapped will be inserted, but the check constraint will. The check constraint will also forbid storing a friend relationship to itself.

Let's create a sample table:
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Written by Quassnoi

February 27th, 2010 at 11:00 pm

Posted in PostgreSQL