A Functional Dependency in DBMS is a fundamental concept that describes the relationship between attributes (columns) in a table. It shows how the values in one or more attributes determine the value in another. In layperson's terms, it describes how data in one column or set of columns can relate to data in another column. It helps to maintain the quality of the data in DBMS. 

Functional Dependency is represented in the form of an equation. Here, you have a set of attributes (A, B, C, etc.) and an arrow (->) denoting the Dependency. For example, if we have a table of employee data with columns "EmployeeID," "FirstName," and "LastName," we can express a functional dependency like this:

EmployeeID -> FirstName, LastName.

Another important term you should know is Partial dependency in DBMS, which is a Database Management system (DBMS) concept that describes a specific type of dependency between attributes (columns) within a relational database table.

How to Denote a Functional Dependency in DBMS?

In DBMS, you denote functional dependencies using a notation. It contains two main components: the left-hand side (LHS) and the right-hand side (RHS) of an arrow (->). 

For example, if we have a table with attributes "A," "B," and "C," and attribute "A" determines the values of attributes "B" and "C," you would denote it as

A -> B, C

This notation indicates that the value(s) in attribute "A" determines the value(s) in attributes "B" and "C." In other words, if you know the value of "A," you can determine the values of "B" and "C."

Types of Functional Dependencies in DBMS

Here are some of the important types of Functional Dependency In DBMS

Trivial Functional Dependency

A trivial functional dependency in  DBMS occurs when an attribute or set of attributes (columns) on the left-hand side (LHS) of a functional dependency arrow (->) already determines the attributes on the right-hand side (RHS) without any extra information. 

Suppose we have a table of students with attributes "StudentID" and "StudentName." In this case, if we state the functional dependency as

StudentID -> StudentName,

This is a trivial functional dependency. Because within a single "StudentID," there can be only one corresponding "StudentName." In other words, the value of "StudentID" determines the value of "StudentName" without any more information or conditions.

Non-trivial Functional Dependency

A non-trivial functional dependency is a specific type of dependency between attributes (columns) in a table. Here, the relationship is not obvious or trivial. It conveys meaningful information about how the values in one set of attributes determine the values in another.  

To illustrate this concept, let's consider an example with a table of student data: 

Student Id

Student Name

Student DOB


















We want to express a functional dependency based on the student's birthdate (StudentDOB) and class (Class). A non-trivial functional dependency in this case would be

StudentDOB, Class -> StudentName.

This functional dependency means that given a combination of a student's date of birth and class, you can uniquely determine their name. It's non-trivial because it provides valuable information about the relationship between attributes in the table.

Multivalued Functional Dependency

A multivalued functional dependency in a database occurs when one or more attributes determine multiple unrelated sets of values in another attribute. It shows that changes in the determining attributes can lead to various combinations of values in the dependent attribute, indicating complex relationships within the data.

Here's a simple example:






{Math, English}



{Science, History}  



{Math, Science} 

In this case, the multivalued dependency in DBMS holds:

  • Alice is Student 1 enrolled in {Math, English}.
  • Bob is Student 2 enrolled in {Science, History}.
  • Carol is Student 3 enrolled in {Math, Science}.

Transitive Functional Dependency

A transitive functional dependency in DBMS is a relational database table's relationship between attributes (columns). It occurs when one attribute's value determines another's value through an intermediary (a third) attribute. 


Consider a database table called "Student_Info" with the following attributes:

Student_ID (unique identifier for each student),

In this example, we can assume that Student_Address depends on Student_City, and Student_City depends on Student_ID. This creates a transitive dependency in DBMS, where Student_ID indirectly determines Student_Address.

Advantages Of Functional Dependency In DBMS

Here are the key advantages of functional dependencies in DBMS:

Data Integrity

Functional dependencies help ensure data integrity in a database. By defining rules that govern the relationships between attributes, DBMS can enforce constraints to prevent inconsistent or incorrect data from being entered into the database. 


Functional dependencies are used in database normalization.  By identifying and applying functional dependencies, database designers can break down large tables into smaller, more manageable ones, reducing data duplication and anomalies.

Efficient Storage

Normalizing a database through functional dependencies can lead to more efficient data storage. Smaller, normalized tables need less storage space, which can be especially beneficial for large databases. 

Ease of Maintenance

Databases that adhere to functional dependencies are easier to maintain. When changes are required in the database structure or schema, the impact of those changes is more localized, reducing the risk of introducing errors or inconsistencies in the data.

Functional dependency in DBMS is the blueprint for organizing and ensuring data accuracy. Identifying these relationships simplifies database design, reduces redundancy, and enhances query efficiency. They are the building blocks for maintaining structured and reliable databases, essential for modern data management and information retrieval. All the functional dependencies are useful tools to make the Database Management System more efficient for the user. 


Hope this article gave you a clear understanding of functional dependencies in DBMS. If you are looking to enhance your cloud computing skills further, we would like to recommend you check Simplilearn’s Post Graduate Program In Cloud Computing. This program can help you gain the right cloud computing and DevOps skills and make you job-ready in no time.

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1. What are functional dependencies in DBMS?

Functional dependencies in Database Management Systems (DBMS) are a set of constraints or rules that define the relationships between attributes (columns) within a relational database table. These dependencies specify how the values of one or more attributes uniquely determine the values of other attributes.

2. How do you identify functional dependency?

Identifying functional dependencies in a database table involves analyzing the data and understanding the relationships between attributes (columns) within the table.

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