By Laurel • May 24, 2000

Databases

Definition of a Database

A database is a collection of data that is organized so that its contents can be used, managed, and kept up to date. A database is a collection of information that you can store "data " in. You can do this with a database program using the computer. I prefer Access 97 because it is the only kind of database program I have tried!

Did you know that databases are anything that keeps information organized? Your mom's address book is a database. Your dad's calendar is a database. Your brother's list of Pokemon cards is a database. A library or a museum is a database. It's just a way of keep track of information and things. Computers have added to our ability to keep more information in a more accessible format, and have helped to increase the numbers of types and uses of databases.

Did you know that the Internet is one big database? All the information that is available is stored in some kind of database to be accessed or retrieved. I'm glad that there are people who understand databases very well to put this together. I need to learn a lot more before I could even try!

A common kind of database is a relational database - this is the kind that uses a table to define the elements, and they can be found using any of the definitions. For example, a table might have a first name, a last name, an address, and a zip code. You could sort on any of these items and get information out of the database. That is the kind of database I made.

Why did databases develop?

A long, long time ago the older people (like adults) used to remember things that all the people needed to know back then. The younger people (like kids) just used to sit around a campfire and asked questions like: "what happened when...?" or "what does…mean?" and "what is...?" After a while people started to make lists by writing things down. The phone came out a pretty long time after that phonebooks came out. A phone book is called a flat database because it just has lists and if you did not know someone's last name but you knew what street they lived on you would have to go through every listing just to find their phone number. So databases developed so it was easier to look stuff up and it was a lot easier to store information.

Today we also have the Dewey Decimal System and Card Catalog. A different kind of database is the card catalog. The card catalog is on the computer now but it wasn't always on the computer. It used to be on cards in giant drawers in the library. On these cards were: the author's name, title, date published, whether it was fiction or nonfiction, and the Dewey Decimal System number. There were usually 2 or 3 sets of cards-one you could look up by book title, and the other you could look up by author. On the third set of cards it had those and the subject. The information was the same on each set, just organized differently. Because it was on cards the only way to use it was manually.

Parts of a database

There are many different parts of a database. Data is a part of a database. Even a simple datbase has data in it. One of the simplest databases is the phonebook. A phonebook is so simple becauce it only has one part: the data. The parts of a typical computerized database are: a table, query, a form, and a report.

TABLE A table is a way of organizing the data in the database. An example of a table for employees would have: Employee ID, first name last name, address, city, state, zip code, and other information that might be nice to see when looking them up.

QUERY A query is when you "ask" your database questions like how many one-legged pants do I need and to whom would I sell them? (Although you can have more than one query)

FORM A form is a very good way to view, enter, and edit the information you put in your table.

REPORT A report is a great way to summarize or pull information from one or many tables in the database.

Conclusion

Databases are important to people because it helps store and share information. They can make it easy to look something up quickly. That could help a doctor save a life, or a policeman track a thief. It's helpful to all who use the information on the Internet.

I liked learning about them because they are interesting, and I think a lot of people will need to work with them in the future.

Databases can take many formats, but they all do the same kind of thing - keep us informed, and organize information for us and for future generations.


Database diagram

You can reach me by e-mail at: laurel@springhurst.org - Return to my page


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