How to Find Super Key From Functional Dependencies

Let R be the relational schema, and X be the set of attributes over R. If X+ determine all the attributes of R, then X is said to be superkey of R.

To Identify Super keys, we need to follow some steps –

  • Compute Closure for the attributes of combination of attributes on the LHS of Functional Dependency i.e. Determinants.
  • If any closure includes all the attributes, then that can be declared as a key for the table.

To Identify Super Key – 

For Example :

Let R(ABCDE) is a relational schema with following functional dependencies. 
AB → C
DE → B
CD → E
Step 1: Identify the closure of LHS of FD -
(AB)+ = ABC
(DE)+ = DEB
(CD)+ = CDE = CDEB {as DE → B}
No SuperKey Found in step 1.
Step 2: If no super Key found from step 1, then follow step 2 to find a 
new key by applying augment rule.
Apply Augment rule until all attributes are mentioned in the closure result. So, choosing (CD)+ as it contains more attributes than others one i.e. CDEB,

(ACD)+ = ABCDE  {By augment Rule}
Hence (ACD)+ determines all the attributes of R. So 
ACD is a SuperKey.

As ACD is a super key, we make the combination of remaining attributes 
with ACD. So, superkeys are -
Step 3: Follow step 3 to Identify more superkeys from new SuperKey (ACD) 
by applying Pseudo Transitive rule -

Check the other Functional Dependencies in which the LHS is a subset of 
new super key, and that on its RHS contains some other attribute of new 

There is only one i.e. AB → C, Remove the attributes of the RHS of these 
from new superkey.

Doing so gives you a key, that are certainly superkeys, but not 
necessarily irreducible ones: 
A(AB)D = ABD : SuperKey

Other Super Keys will be 
ABDC,     (Already Found)
ABDCE.    (Already Found)

Repeat the procedure again for the new superkey(ABD) till we get all superkeys.
Step 3 Continued... (To find SuperKey from ABD)
For ABD,  We have a functional dependency again i.e. {DE → B}. So, 
A(DE)D = ADE : SuperKey

Other Super keys will be -  
ADEB,     (Already Found)
ADEC,     (Already Found)
ADEBC.    (Already Found)
Step 3 Continued... (To find SuperKey from ABD)
For ADE, ⇒ CD → E, So, AD(CD) = ACD : SuperKey that we already have

So all the superkeys for R will be – ACD, ACDB, ACDE, ACDBE ABD, ABDE, ADE.

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How to Find Candidate Key
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