also spelled Data Base, also called Electronic Database, any collection of data, or information, that is specially organized for rapid search and retrieval by a computer. Databases are structured to facilitate the storage, retrieval, modification, and deletion of data in conjunction with various data-processing operations. Databases can be stored on magnetic disk or tape, optical disk, or some other secondary storage device. A database consists of a file or a set of files. The information in these files may be broken down into records, each of which consists of one or more fields. Fields are the basic units of data storage, and each field typically contains information pertaining to one aspect or attribute of the entity described by the database. Using keywords and various sorting commands, users can rapidly search, rearrange, group, and select the fields in many records to retrieve or create reports on particular aggregates of data. Database records and files must be organized to allow retrieval of the information. Early systems were arranged sequentially (i.e., alphabetically, numerically, or chronologically); the development of direct-access storage devices made possible random access to data via indexes. Queries are the main way users retrieve database information. Typically, the user provides a string of characters, and the computer searches the database for a corresponding sequence and provides the source materials in which those characters appear; a user can request, for example, all records in which the contents of the field for a person's last name is the word Smith. The many users of a large database must be able to manipulate the information within it quickly at any given time. Moreover, large business and other organizations tend to build up many independent files containing related and even overlapping data, and their data-processing activities often require the linking of data from several files. Several different types of database management systems have been developed to support these requirements: flat, hierarchical, network, relational, and object-oriented. In flat databases, records are organized according to a simple list of entities; many simple databases for personal computers are flat in structure. The records in hierarchical databases are organized in a treelike structure, with each level of records branching off into a set of smaller categories. Unlike hierarchical databases, which provide single links between sets of records at different levels, network databases create multiple linkages between sets by placing links, or pointers, to one set of records in another; the speed and versatility of network databases have led to their wide use in business. Relational databases are used where associations among files or records cannot be expressed by links; a simple flat list becomes one row of a table, or relation, and multiple relations can be mathematically associated to yield desired information. Object-oriented databases store and manipulate more complex data structures, called objects, which are organized into hierarchical classes that may inherit properties from classes higher in the chain; this database structure is the most flexible and adaptable. The information in many databases consists of natural-language texts of documents; number-oriented databases primarily contain information such as statistics, tables, financial data, and raw scientific and technical data. Small databases can be maintained on personal-computer systems and may be used by individuals at home. These and larger databases have become increasingly important in business life. Typical commercial applications include airline reservations, production management functions, medical records in hospitals, and legal records of insurance companies. The largest databases are usually maintained by governmental agencies, business organizations, and universities. These databases may contain texts of such materials as abstracts, reports, legal statutes, wire services, newspapers and journals, encyclopaedias, and catalogs of various kinds. Reference databases contain bibliographies or indexes that serve as guides to the location of information in books, periodicals, and other published literature. Thousands of these publicly accessible databases now exist, covering topics ranging from law, medicine, and engineering to news and current events, games, classified advertisements, and instructional courses. Professionals such as scientists, doctors, lawyers, financial analysts, stockbrokers, and researchers of all types increasingly rely on these databases for quick, selective access to large volumes of information.
Meaning of DATABASE in English
Britannica English vocabulary. Английский словарь Британика. 2012