What is Database?
A Database is a repository for collection of related data or facts stored so that it is available to many users for different purposes. The content of database is obtained by combining data from all the different sources in an organization, so that data are available to all users and redundant data can be eliminated or at least minimized. A database contains a collection of related items or facts arranged in a specific structure called Data and Information.
The most obvious example of a non computerized database is a telephone directory. Telephone companies now use an electronic database program to produce their printed phone books. Sometimes, we see a specialized phone book that is sorted not only by last name, but by other items such as phone number or street address. These books are easy to produce because the telephone company’s electronic database can sort and organize the data in many different ways. Database programs can also sort lists of data, arranging them in alphabetical, numeric, or chronological order.
A computer database gives us some electronic filing system, which has a large number of ways in which to reorganize and retrieve data. The motivations for using databases rather than files include greater availability to a diverse set of users, integration of data for easier access to an updating of complex transactions, and less redundancy of data.
A database has the following implicit properties:
- A database represents some aspect of the real world, sometimes called the mini-world or universe of discourse (UoD). Changes to mini-world are reflected in the database.
- A database is a logically coherent collection of data with some inherent meanings.
- A database is designed, built and populated with data for a specific purpose.
- A database is a complex object formed by the inter-relation of different components such as file system holding small to large data units.
A database can also be defined as the complex form of file system, complex because it stores interrelated data items, which is smallest named unit of data that has meaning in the real world – for example, first name, last name, street, address, phone number, Citizenship number, or political party. A group of related data items treated as a single unit by an application is called record. Examples of types of records are order, salesperson, customer, product, and department. A file is collection of records of a single type and as we already said data base is collection of such different files.
A database can handle business inventory, accounting and filing and use the information in its files to prepare summaries, estimates and other reports. There can be a database which stores the content of books, news papers, magazines and comics. The management of such databases is done with the help of general purpose software packages called Database Management Systems (DBMS).
The word data is used to refer to a fact or facts about the person, place, object, event, or concept and when data is processed it reveals information. Data and information is not the same thing. Data arranged in certain order and form which is useful to us is called information. Data is the raw material to generate information i.e. data is to be processed to produce information. Thus, information is the output of data processing operation. So, we can say that information is a data, placed into a meaningful context for the recipient.
For example, the weight of students is
60, 70, 57, 41, 36, 44, 53 …
the above numbers have no meaning. But, let us process the data to answer the following questions.
- What is average weight?
- What is the weight of the heaviest individual?
- What is the weight of the lightest individual?
Database contains data not information. By itself, the database is meaningless and worthless. With the use of data, information can be produced. Thus, through the proper design and use of database, it can be an essential tool to produce information for making management decisions.
Using above data, information can be retrieved
- The average weight is 51.57.
- The weight of the heaviest individual is 70.
- The weight of the lightest individual is 36.
Above answers 51.57, 70, 36 are meaningful information for recipient.