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Chapter 7: Database Applications and Privacy Implications

The Electronic File Cabinet: Database Basics


Database programs are applications (turn software into productive tools) o Computerized file cabinet o Designed to maintain and process information Databases: collections of logically related information stored on disks. Advantages of computer databases: 1. Easier to store large quantities of information 2. Easier to retrieve information quickly and flexibly 3. Make it easy to organize and reorganize information 4. Make it easy to print and distribute information in a variety of ways. Database: an organized collection of information stored in a computer o Database program (database software): a software tool for organizing storage and retrieval of that information. o Typically composed of one ore more tables Table: a collection of related information; it keeps that information together the way a folder in a file cabinet does. o Organized into records Records: the information related to one person, product or event. Field: discrete chuck of information in a record. o Ex. Title, author, publisher Field type (data type): determines the type of information a field can hold. o Numeric Fields: contain only numbers o Date Field: contain only date values o Database programs allow fields to contain graphics, digitized photographs, sounds, or video clips. o Computed Fields: contain formulas similar to spreadsheet formulas; they display values calculated from values in other numeric fields.

Viewing Data: o Form view: show one record at a time. o List view: display several records in lists similar to a spreadsheet.

Database Operations: o Import data: receive data in the form of text files created with word processors, spreadsheets, or other databases. o Browsing most database programs include a variety of commands and capabilities that make it easy to get the information you need when you need it. o Query: alternative to browsing, that allows you to ask the database for specific information. Queries can be stored and used in the future. Stored query: powerful feature that helps databases blur the line between application programs and development tools. o Sort: command that allows you to arrange records in alphabetic or numeric order based on values in one or more fields. o Print outs: Report: an ordered list of selected records and fields in an easy-to-read format. Export data: transmit the necessary records and fields, to word processors with mail merge capabilities, which then take on the task of printing the letters. o Query language Structured Query Language (SQL): standard language that most modern database-management programs support for programing complex queries. Dont need to learn new language when working with different hardware and software systems. Not a database management system

Special-Purpose Database Programs: preprogramed for specific data storage and retrieval purposes o Media Libraries Video and audio files arent usually stored in databases because theyre too large, but rather a media database serves as an index to all of the separately stored files.

o Personal information manager (PIM): a type of specialized database program, that can automate some or all of the following functions 1. Address/phone book 2. Appointment calendar 3. To-do list 4. Miscellaneous notes Microsoft outlook most widely used PIM software, that combines all of these functions with an email program o Geographical information systems (GISs): allows a business to combine tables of data, such as customer sales lists with demographic information from the U.S. Census Bureau and other sources. Ex. Stock brokerage firm can pinpoint the best locations for branch offices based on average incomes and other neighborhood data. Can display geographic and demographic data on maps, that enables users to see data relationships that might be invisible in table form. o Web databases HTML: the language used to construct most webpages; wasnt designed to build database queries. XML: newer, more powerful data description language designed with industrial strength database access in mind. Can serve as a query language and as a Web page construction tool.

Beyond the Basics: Database Management Systems


Database Management System (DBMS): a program or system of programs that can manipulate data in a large collection of tables (the database) cross-referencing between tables as needed o Many consumer databases arent really database mangers at all o DBMD can be used interactively or controlled directly through programs o Data redundancy: when separate tables contain basic information about every individual. Wastes space

Makes it difficult to ensure that student information is accurate and up to date Requires multiple tables to be updated to maintain data consistency

o Key Field: the field that is shared by all tables, allowing one table to unlock relevant information in another table. Relational databases

Relational Database: a program that allows tables to be related to each other so that changes in one table are reflected in other tables automatically. o Has a technical definition related to the underlying structure of the data and the rules specifying how that data can be manipulated. o Used by a majority of DBMSs today o Oracle Corporation (1970) produced the first commercial relational database system.

Database Trends:
Batch processing: required computer operators to accumulate transactions and feed them into computers in large batches. o Did not provide immediate feedback o Earliest file-management programs Interactive processing: users now interact with data through terminals, PCs, and handheld devices, viewing and changing values in real time. o Typically run on powerful servers and accessed by users remotely. Centralized database: databases housed in mainframe computers accessible only to information-processing personnel (Pre-PC days). Client/server: approach employing database servers: Client programs in PCs, smart phones, or other devices send information requests through a network or the Internet to database servers or mainframe databases. o Servers process queries and send the requested data back to the client o Enables users to take advantage of the client machines simplicity and convenience, while still having access to data stored on large server systems. Data warehouses: large, relatively expensive, and centralized (like old-style systems); but give users more direct access to enterprise data.

o Most commonly found in large corporations and government departments Distributed databases: spread data across networks on several different computers rather than store it on one central site. o Middleware/connectivity software links the client and server machines, hiding the complexity of the interaction between those machines and creating a three-tier design that separates the actual data from the programing logic used to access it. Data mining: the discovery and extraction of hidden predictive information from large databases. o Locate data that would have been overlooked by normal database queries. Maintaining Database Integrity: o Dirty data: data records containing errors. Spelling or punctuation mistakes, incorrect values, or obsolete values. o Data scrubbing (data cleansing): the process of going through a database and eliminating dirty data. Human customer service representative is last defense against errors.

Object-oriented databases: store objects, rather than records in tables and hierarchies. o Future database o Every object is an instance of a class specifies the data contained in the object as well as the kinds of operations that may be performed on the data. o Can store and retrieve unstructured data (audio, video clips)

Multidimensional database technology: based on relational database technology, but it stores data in more than two dimensions. o Data is organized in cubes rather than 2-D tables o Provide faster access for users of large database. o Now offered by Oracle database products (ex. eBays auction site)

Natural language queries: queries in English or some other human language. o Havent made much headway o Future databases will incorporate more artificial intelligence technology.

No Secrets: Computers and Privacy


Privacy: an individuals right to have control over confidential personal information.

Data-mining techniques can be used to extract information about individuals and groups without their knowledge or consent. Database information can be easily sold or used for purposes other than those for which it was collected. Networked computers make it easy to compile profiles by combining information from different databases. o Record matching is trivial and quick when tables in the databases share a unique field (ex. SS).

NCIC database accessible by state and law enforcement agencies that helps facilitate more than 100,000 arrests and recovery of stolen cars each year. Problems: o Data errors are common o Data can become nearly immortal because files are commonly sold and copied, its impossible to delete or correct erroneous records with absolute certainty. o Data isnt secure

Identity theft has become a major criminal industry in this ace of easy information access. Threat of privacy is amplified by: o Networks making it possible for personal data to transmitted almost anywhere instantly. o Workplace monitoring technology enables managers to learn more than ever before about the work habits and patterns of workers. o Surveillance cameras locate criminals, traffic violators, and security violators.

Right to privacy: implied by other constitutional guarantees Code of Fair Information Practices: code suggested that there be no secret government databases, that individuals be able to access and correct information about themselves kept in government databases, and that agencies ensure the reliability and security of information kept in the database.