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Glossary: Chapter 8

alphabetical sorting
Sorting records in a database in alphabetical order.

alphanumeric
Data represented in both alphabetical and numeric form. For instance, in the address 367 Main Street, all characters are alphanumeric, whether numbers or letters.

ascending order
Arrangement of data from lowest to highest in sequence.

Boolean operation
One of the three logical operations AND, OR, and NOT, first used by George Boole, fundamental to doing searching in databases.

Caller ID
A telephone service that allows a user with a phone equipped with a digital screen to see the number, and sometimes the name, of the caller. In a commercial setting this service often triggers a computer database to display other information about the caller.

consistency check
A software protection scheme added to a database management system to monitor data integrity. For instance, one should not be able to reserve flights for nonexistent dates like February 30.

data definition
The process of deciding on the number and characteristics of all the data fields in each record in the early stages of developing a database.

data entry
The process of encoding data into fields to create database records.

data integrity
The need to insure that information contained in a database is accurate and timely -- that is, free of corruption by input or programming errors.

data protection (data security)
A term referring to strategies for protecting databases against illegal access or modification, such as needing a password to access a database.

database management system (DBMS)
Software used to create, maintain, retrieve, and produce reports about information kept in databases.

database
A collection of related files stored electronically that can be edited, joined, sorted, and searched.

descending sort
Arrangement of sorted data from highest to lowest in sequence.

family tree
A model for organizing a database in a hierarchical arrangement, with parent and children nodes.

field
A basic unit of information contained in a record, such as a name or street address in a mailing list created as a database.

file
A collection of records in a database related to each other.

flat file
A simple form of database consisting of one table of rows (records) and columns (fields) of data.

hierarchical model
A method for storing data in a database that looks like a family tree with one root and a number of branches or subdivisions.

key field
A main field that can be used to create an index for fast, random-access retrieval of records.

key
The main identifying field in a data record to which associated information is attached, such as a student number for college records.

link
A pointer between nodes in a networked database signifying that they are related in some way.

log (audit trail)
A record kept automatically by a computer system of all users, times logged on, and transactions for record keeping and security purposes, especially with distributed access to large databases.

multiple-field sorting
Sorting on two or more fields of information, one primary and the others secondary. For instance, in a mailing list database, a person may sort addresses by states, and then within states by ZIP code.

natural language interface
A search strategy that allows querying a database directly in English, although the way the request is formulated is fairly restricted.

networked model
A database design for storing information by linking all records that are related with a list of pointers.

node
A record or field in a networked database with a series of links connecting it to all other associated nodes.

numerical comparison operation
A fundamental database operation, also found in programming languages, that compares two quantities for a relationship such as "less than" or "equal to."

object-oriented database
A networked database that can link a variety of data objects like text, graphics, photos, video, and sound and associate them with an object, such as a "card" window in HyperCard.

password system
A software strategy of using a unique, normally secret, code to identify users before granting them access to a computer system or database for multiple users.

primary sort
The first field to be sorted in a database sorting operation.

query by example (QBE)
A fill-in-the-blanks approach to building a database search, requiring a user to fill out a query form on the screen.

record
A collection of related fields comprising one item in a data file, such as a complete book record in an on-line catalog.

relational (tabular) model
A design used in database systems in which relationships are created between one or more flat files or tables based on the idea that each pair of tables has a field in common.

reporting
The process of printing or displaying information contained in a database, often the last step in database management.

searching
The process of setting up a search request and retrieving information in a database that fulfills the request, a standard feature of all database software.

secondary sort
A field in a database used for additional sorting after records have been arranged by the primary sorting operation on another field.

software interface
A term that describes the way a database user communicates with the software, such as querying by example or using a natural language search strategy.

sorting
Arranging records in a file according to a specified sequence, such as alphabetically or numerically, from lowest to highest.

structured query language (SQL)
A technical database search standard recognized by the American National Standards Institute and used by software designers to create their internal computer search criteria. Sometimes ordinary users build search requests in SQL, but most modern database software hides it from the user.

table
Another name for a flat file, an arrangement of data into rows and columns, in relational database design.


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