Normalization in plain English

Well, if I had to explain it to my wife it would have been something like that:

The main idea is to avoid duplication of large data.

Let’s take a look at a list of people and the country they came from. Instead of holding the name of the country which can be as long as “Bosnia & Herzegovina” for every person, we simply hold a number that references a table of countries. So instead of holding 100 “Bosnia & Herzegovina”s, we hold 100 #45. Now in the future, as often happens with Balkan countries, they split to two countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina, I will have to change it only in one place. well, sort of.

Now, to explain 2NF, I would have changed the example, and let’s assume that we hold the list of countries every person visited.
Instead of holding a table like:

Person   CountryVisited   AnotherInformation   D.O.B.
Faruz    USA              Blah Blah            1/1/2000
Faruz    Canada           Blah Blah            1/1/2000

I would have created three tables, one table with the list of countries, one table with the list of persons and another table to connect them both. That gives me the most freedom I can get changing person’s information or country information. This enables me to “remove duplicate rows” as normalization expects.

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