Data Normalisation & OSM

Continuing the discussion from Multiple delimited names in the name tag:

OSM is the epitome of an unnormalised database, and works pretty well as such.

Normalising issues such as the one in the thread is often very complex, as @Minh_Nguyen demonstrates in his reply.

This is true even for well defined use-cases. I have fond memories of a data model for handling public holidays in Switzerland which required about 50 entities IIRC, but just would not have worked, for instance, in the UK. My post box examples in the lightning talk I gave at Heidelberg SotM are simple examples of normalisation problems which OSM simply just does not have to worry about. There are many things in OSM way more complicated than a post box.

For the record, I’m a huge fan of the power of appropriate approaches to normalisation in systems design, but as someone who did it for a living I’m also aware that it can also be an obstacle when managing the “Good, fast, cheap, choose two” constraint.

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