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What is a Database?

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The purpose of a database is help users store data in an organized way (Prat & Last, 2015).  To get a better idea of a database, imagine an Excel spreadsheet that contained customers names and addresses. Now, the vision in your head should have been a table composed of rows and columns, organized in a way where the data within the cells have some kind of relationship to the other pieces of data around it. For example, a cell containing your first name, might have data to the left and right of it that corresponds to data that relates to you, For example a cell to the right of your first name may contain your last name. The cells directly above and below  your name cell most likely contain the same type of data, a name (but in this case, it would make sense for that piece of data to belong to another user or record).

Now imagine another spreadsheet table containing a list of cities, grouped by state. 

We could use the information in this new table (cityAndStates) and connect it with our other table (customerNames) by establishing a relationship. For example, instead of retyping the location data, we could assign our the data within cityAndStates a symbolic reference (i.e. SAN could be the reference for San Diego) that could be used in the customerName table, which would reduce the redundancy of having to type the same information over and over agin. 

To answer this week’s discussion question better, I’ve created these notes on the database diagram (Kline, Obe, & Hsu, 2021) .

  • What makes this database a relational database?
  • Each table’s name and likely contents in terms of main purpose;
  • Any primary keys associated with each table;
  • Any index(ices) present with each table; and
  • For those tables with both a primary key and multiple indices, what purpose each serves.
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