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PHP – Association Table Mapping

In software development, databases are often used to store data. The relational database is one of the most popular kinds of databases. Tables are used to organize data in relational databases. Each row in a table corresponds to a single record, and each table has a collection of rows. It could be required to create associations between tables in some circumstances. Using association table mapping is one method for accomplishing this. In this post, we’ll talk about association table mapping in PHP and give an illustration.

What is Association Table Mapping?

A relational database’s association table mapping approach is used to create a many-to-many relationship between two tables. One entry in Table A may be linked to several records in Table B, and vice versa, in a many-to-many relationship. An association table is made to prove this connection. Foreign keys in this table refer to the primary keys in the other two tables with which it is connected.

Example of Association Table Mapping in PHP

Let’s consider a simple example to illustrate association table mapping in PHP. Suppose we have two tables: “users” and “groups”. Each user can belong to multiple groups, and each group can have multiple users. To establish this many-to-many relationship, we will create an association table called “user_groups”. This table will contain two foreign keys: one referencing the “users” table and one referencing the “groups” table.

Here’s how we can create the “user_groups” table using SQL:
CREATE TABLE user_groups (
user_id int(11) NOT NULL,
group_id int(11) NOT NULL,
PRIMARY KEY (user_id,group_id),
CONSTRAINT fk_user_groups_users FOREIGN KEY (user_id) REFERENCES users (id),
CONSTRAINT fk_user_groups_groups FOREIGN KEY (group_id) REFERENCES groups (id)

In this SQL statement, we create the “user_groups” table with two columns: “user_id” and “group_id”. We also set the primary key to be a combination of these two columns, to ensure that each combination of user_id and group_id is unique. Finally, we create two foreign key constraints, one for each column, that reference the “users” and “groups” tables, respectively.
Now that we have created the association table, we can use PHP to retrieve data from it. Here’s an example of how we might retrieve all of the groups that a user with ID 1 belongs to:

$user_id = 1;
$stmt = $pdo->prepare("SELECT groups.* FROM groups JOIN user_groups ON = user_groups.group_id WHERE user_groups.user_id = ?");
$groups = $stmt->fetchAll(PDO::FETCH_ASSOC);

In this code, we first set the $user_id variable to 1. We then prepare a SQL statement that joins the “groups” and “user_groups” tables, using the “group_id” column in the “user_groups” table and the “id” column in the “groups” table. We also filter the results to only include rows where the “user_id” column in the “user_groups” table matches the value of $user_id. Finally, we execute the statement and fetch all of the resulting rows into the $groups variable.


An effective method for creating many-to-many relationships between tables in a relational database is association table mapping. An association table can be created in PHP using SQL, and data can then be retrieved from it using SQL queries. Using association table mapping, we can build more intricate and adaptable database structures that more accurately reflect the relationships between data in the real world.

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