Letters to the Power Plant #37 — A Bit of Dell Trivia

After I left the power plant and went to work for Dell on August 20, 2001, I wrote letters back to my friends at the plant letting them know how things were going.  This is the thirty seventh letter I wrote.

06/03/02 – a bit of Dell Trivia

Hey Sooner Friends from Up North,

I was just reading about Databases, (because my new project requires me to learn this), and I thought I would send you a quick note to show you something I just read:

If I have 64 database tables that I want to join (That’s relational database lingo for those of you who don’t know), then the number of possible ways to join those tables is just about the same number of grains of sand it would take to fill up the entire universe with sand.  —  Yes.  It would take: 1.2 x 10 ^124 grains of sand to fill the entire universe with sand.  When you write that number out it looks like this:


Isn’t that something?

I thought you would want to know.



Kevin J. Breazile

Customer Experience / Warranty Cost

Dell Computer Corporation

(512) 728-1527


2 responses

  1. I had a problem similar to this, not exactly this, but similar. This was back when I worked for the Minneapolis Police Department and most computing was still done on mainframes, but all I had was an early version of Microsoft Access. This was 1992.

    The problem was searching a database of 100,000 offenders and matching attributes to those of a crime. So put simply, if we had a crime where the offender attacked someone on a walking path with a knife, who else had a similar MO?

    Again, this was on a 40mhz PC running Window 3.1 and Access 2.0.

    So what I did was count the occurrences of each attribute and created an optimization table constructed of two elements: attribute, number of occurrences.

    Then whenever I ran a search, I joined the offender table based on the attributes with the least number of occurrences, then rejoined the result with the next two and so on.

    The State Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (think of it as the state’s FBI) had a mainframe program that ran searches and those search ran for hours. My little PC did the same work in less than a minute.

    When I demonstrated it for them, they thought I was running a scam.

    When they found out it was not a scam, they offered me a job.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s Great! Relational databases changed the world!


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