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Introductory Database Theory: Systems And Design

Before you can begin to design a database you must understand the underlying concepts and theories of why databases are used and how they are created. In this article, Steve gives us a great explanation of what a database is, the relational database model, metadata and indexes, the database management system and structured query language.

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By: Steve Adcock
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January 19, 2002
  1. · Introductory Database Theory: Systems And Design
  2. · What is a database?
  3. · The relational model
  4. · Metadata and indexes
  5. · The DBMS and SQL
  6. · Conclusion

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Introductory Database Theory: Systems And Design - What is a database?
(Page 2 of 6 )

Conquering what databases are, and the several varieties of database designs are what this article intends to introduce. You will not find advanced database theory anywhere. The most basic of database concepts, or the building blocks are what we must all first master.

Thanks to the World Wide Web, databases of all kinds have found themselves in the spotlight as the technology emerges as quite an effective means for storing and managing data. Database developers hold a unique and specific realm of skills not common to most computing professionals. Because of this, salaries for database administrators (especially those who offer Oracle skills) are quite good. An in-depth knowledge of database systems and design is essential for the future of technology and the continued emergence of data processing applications.

Firstly, let's explore why databases were created. Databases keep track of, and organize, data. Data is the essence of any business or organization. The processing of data keeps companies rolling down the road of business at an increasingly speedy rate. A database is sometimes referred to as a “DBMS”, or Database Management System. Microsoft Access, for example, is a DBMS, along with Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL and Oracle. DBMS's, however, have not enjoyed an existence of flawless execution. In fact, many years ago, some databases were simply infeasible.

Databases use queries. Queries interact with the database to extract, insert and delete records, or otherwise work with the database's data. As with any process the computer must complete, it takes some processing resources. Databases, however, happen to take a lot more resources that a typical application, as queries can become rather large. Computers of 20 years ago were simply not powerful enough to handle the processing of data, especially the relational database model (which we will explore shortly). As computers began to advance, databases began the snowball effect we see now. We are just beginning to perceive the utter power of in-depth database systems and the power of which these systems can implement.

Moreover, databasing is a unique field, requiring a unique set of skills. Another reason databases were infeasible was simply the lack of skilled administrators to install and keep them running efficiently. Today, that is still the case, although not nearly as severely. Employers can find network administrators almost anywhere, but when it comes to database administrators, it's much more difficult and they literally pay for it.
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