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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Database System Concepts - Data Model, Schemas and Database state

A data model is a collection of concepts that can be used to describe the structure of a database. By structure of the database we mean the data types, relationships, and constraints that should hold on the data. Most data models also include a set of basic operations for specifying retrievals and updates on database.

Categories of Data Models:
- High level or Conceptual data models : These models provide concepts that are close to the way many users perceive data. They use concepts such as entities, attributes, and relationships. An entity represents a real-world object or concept such as an employee or a project. An attribute represents property of interest that describes an entity such as employee's salary or name. A relationship represents an interaction among the entities.
- Representational data models : These models provides concept that may be understood by end users but that are not too far removed from the way data is organized within the computer. They are used most frequently in traditional commercial DBMSs and they include the widely used relational model as well as the network and hierarchical models. These models represent data by using record structures and hence are sometimes called record-based data models.
- Low level or Physical data models : These models provide concepts that describe the details of how the data is stored in the computer by representing information such as record formats, record orderings, and access paths. An access path is a structure that makes the search for particular database records efficient.

The description of a database in any data model is called the database schema which is specified during the database design and is not expected to change frequently. A displayed is called a schema diagram.

Schema Diagram
A schema diagram displays only some aspects of a schema, such as names of record types and data items, and some types of constraints.

Database State or Iinstance: The actual data in a database changes every time data is inserted, deleted, or modified. The data in the database at a particular moment in time is called a database state or a snapshot. It is also called the current set of occurrences or instances in the database.

Distinguish between Database State and Database Schema:
When a new database is defined, we specify its database schema only to the DBMS. At this point, the corresponding database state is empty state. The initial state of the database is got when the database is first populated or loaded with the initial data. From then on, every time an update operation is applied to the database, we get another database state.

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