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SQL Anywhere 11.0.0 » SQL Anywhere Server - SQL Usage » Designing and Creating Databases » Working with database objects » Working with tables


Managing foreign keys

This section describes how to create and edit foreign keys in your database. You can use either Sybase Central or Interactive SQL to perform these tasks.

Foreign keys are used to relate values in a child table (or foreign table) to those in a parent table (or primary table). A table can have multiple foreign keys that refer to multiple parent tables linking various types of information.


The SQL Anywhere sample database has one table holding employee information and one table holding department information. The Departments table has the following columns:

  • DepartmentID   An ID number for the department. This is the primary key for the table.

  • DepartmentName   The name of the department.

  • DepartmentHeadID   The employee ID for the department manager.

To find the name of a particular employee's department, there is no need to put the name of the employee's department into the Employees table. Instead, the Employees table contains a column, DepartmentID, holding a value that matches one of the DepartmentID values in the Departments table.

The DepartmentID column in the Employees table is a foreign key to the Departments table. A foreign key references a particular row in the table containing the corresponding primary key.

The Employees table (which contains the foreign key in the relationship) is therefore called the foreign table or referencing table. The Departments table (which contains the referenced primary key) is called the primary table or the referenced table.

Managing foreign keys (Sybase Central)
Managing foreign keys (SQL)