Best approach in creating MySQL Query for this


We need to create a program in PHP/MySQL that will display all the 'people', who have certain skill/s that may be needed during an event. Each person has at least a skill and with a rating of 1 - 5 depending on how skilled is that person for a specific skill. For example, John have 2 skills - painting and drawing. He is expert in painting so his rating for painting is 5 while rating of only 2 for drawing, for he can draw but not very good.

There are events that the admin can add, which contains the needed skills for that specific event. Each event will contain skills from only one to eight different skills. For example, the user will create an event called Art Class Tutorial and will then select from the pre-defined skills (provided by the program) which skills are needed for it. In this case for example, the admin selects Sculpting, Drawing and Painting. Next, the admin will need to find all the 'people' with the skills Sculpting OR Drawing OR Painting (so that they can participate in teaching in the event), in which ratings should not be below 3.

In this case, John should be displayed because he has a 5-star rating for painting even if his drawing is just 2-star. If for example, Bob has sculpting, drawing and painting but all of them have a rating of 2-star, Bob should not be displayed.

So my problem is this: how can I create a query for this since the program does not know how many skills an event needs and which skills are chosen? The combination of possibilities are too many for me to create if's for each possible combination.

By the way, in my table for each 'person', there exist the eight fields (one for each skill) which should contain each skill rating per skill. Rating 0 means not skill in that area.

Here is my current code on this:

function search_results($keywords){
   $returned_results = array();
   $where = "";

   $keywords = preg_split('/[\s]+/', $keywords);
   $total_keywords = count($keywords);

   foreach($keywords as $key=>$keyword){
      $where .= "`keywords` LIKE '%$keywords%'";
      if($key != ($total_keywords - 1)){
         $where .= " AND ";
$results = "SELECT `title`, LEFT(`description`, 70) as `description` , `url` FROM `articles` WHERE $where";
$results_num = ($results = mysql_query($results)) ? mysql_num_rows($results): 0;

if($results_num === 0){
   return false;

   while($results_row = mysql_fetch_assoc($results)){
      $returned_results[] = array(
      'title' => $results_row['title'],
      'description' => $results_row['description'],
      'url' => $results_row['url']

return $returned_results;

Simply do that:

  • Create onto your database some entities like: event,skill,people.
  • Previous tables have to be related with foreign key(s); So you'll probably have to build some "intermediate" entities (think to event/skill cardinality and skill/people).
  • Now you can, for every event, query the DB an dinamically extract how many skills have to considered for that particular event
  • At this point, you can create dinamically a string for your WHERE condition
  • The trick is done

Hope it is clear and will help you

Edit (under question's author request)

Intermediate entities are "special" entities that have to be created when you have a relationship of n/m between two entities (or table, if you prefer refer to those in that way). So, if 'event' and 'skills' have a m/n cardinality (and they have!) you have to create a table (say r_event_skills) where the PK of 'r_event_skills' is composed by combination of two foreign keys (one that is constrained to event's PK, the other constrained with skill's PK). Now, you have to repeat the same for skill/people and the trick is done.