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By: M Rafeeq

Chapter- II


Father of Database ----- C.J. Date
Purpose: This is to know how data resources are managed and how to provide shared
access to the data in information systems.

I. Introduction: -
The primary role of Information Systems is to collect data and make it available to
managers throughout the company. Data collection is a fundamental step in transaction
Right information and right Information systems are the mantra for success in
modern day business. Every organization maintains the information it needs in any of the
following forms: By manual means, computer file structures and in the form of databases.
Information maintenance through manual means has practically disappeared and with
the advancements in computer hardware and soft ware, dependence on computer systems
has become so crucial

Data Management integrates the divisions of a company, supports team work and
helps to control the organization.

Strategy Strategy

Tactics Tactics

nn Data files DBMS


Fig.: -With out DBMS Fig.: - With a DBMS

(Integrated data with shared access)

Without DBMS, data will be scattered through the company, making difficult to share
the information, due to this data inconsistency, duplication and errors occurs.
With DBMS, it maintains data through a common interface. So, data definition,
access, consistency and security are maintained by the DBMS.

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The concepts of Database and Database Management were developed to solve the
problems of file processing system.
A Database is an integrated collection of logically related records and files. It
consolidates all records previously stored in independent files, which serves as common
pool of data to be accessed by many different application programs.

Database Management involves the control of how databases are created,

interrogated and maintained.
Databases are typically supported and managed through software known as
Database Management System (DBMS).

DBMS are designed to deal with multiple users at the same time. DBMS are one of
the most important tools in Management Information Systems (MIS). The overall design
(structure and data) is maintained and controlled by the DBA (Database Administrator).

(Standards design
and control)

Programmer/ Data
Management Managers
System Ad hoc queries
Program Program and reports

Data collection
and transaction



Business operations


Fig.: - MIS people and databases

II. File Structures: -
A file is a collection of records. Storing of records on magnetic media is called the
file structure.
a) Data stored in papers-based, Manual filing system: -
Characters Data element Records Files.

b) Data stored in Computer-based, Electronic filing system: -

Binary digits Characters Data element Records Files.
(Bits) (Bytes) 2
0 10101011 10101010010001
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Methods (Models) of a File Structures: -

Records should be organized in a file, in such a way that it provides quick access to
the desired record for retrieval, updating and saving.
The basic models of file structures are as follows:
1.Sequential file structures.
2.Direct file structure.
3.Indexed sequential file structure.

1. Sequential File Structure: -

In this model records will be stored in sequentially using a Primary key (Roll
no., Employee Id. no.). The records will be arranged in ascending or descending order
based upon the key attribute in the record. The sequence of records in the file can be
changed by sorting the file.
E.g.-With a sequential access to retrieve an employee record with an ID number
2500 is done by scanning all the records sequentially between 0001 and 2500 records.
. Sequential access can be fast and inexpensive, if files are stored in batch
processing mode. The transactions leading to changes in the file data are collected in a
batch periodically.
E.g.: - Transfers, Promotions, and Retirement which lead to changes in the
personal file data can be collected on a monthly basis. These transactions are collected
in a batch are then record in the form of a transaction file, which is arranged in a
sequence as the master file to be updated. The updating involves reading of records
from both transaction and Master file.
The additions, deletions and changes are carried out in the records of the master
file and updated records are written on a new updated master file.
Old To maintain
Maste accurate and current
r data
file New
Update Maste
Transa file

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2. Direct file structure: -

In this method records are stored randomly i.e., not in sequence order by primary
In direct access a hashing technique or randomizing is applied to primary key.
Hashing technique is used to generate storage address of records in the file.
There are many number of ways to convert a key to a numeric value. The keys
may be numeric, alphabetic or alphanumeric.
Using hashing technique and storing the data on a direct access medium, retrieving
of records are done directly.
E.g.: - To retrieve an ID number of employee 2500, it can be retrieved directly
instead of scanning all the records from 0001 to 2499.

Disadvantages: - Several record numbers may generate the same address. Handling
this problem exits ----- but requires special processing, which slow down the storage
and retrieval of records.

3. Indexed sequential file structure: -

In this method records are stored sequentially on a direct access medium with a
specific address for each record.
An Index is maintained as records are added to the file and it keeps track of disk
address of each record. This method is called Indexed Sequential Access Method
(ISAM). This method permits both sequential and direct access of records in a file.
Primary key Disk address

3548 845528
3549 853658
3550 861788

Accessing Records: -
Records are stored to access in the following ways:
1) Adding new records to a file
2) Deleting record from a file
3) Modifying records in a file
4) Viewing records from a file on a screen.
5) Creating reports from records in a file.

III. Database concepts: -

A file is a collection of related records. A Database is a collection of related files.

Binary digits Characters Data element Records Files Database A collection

(Bits) (Bytes) (Field) of related
0 10101011 10101010010001 files

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In traditional, firms computerized their operations on an application-by-application

basis, where records in an each file were designed specially for each application.
E.g.: - 1) Computerized pay rolls.
2) Computerized Order processing
1). Data Independence: -
Programs lack data independence i.e., at any time the record format of a file is
changed [E.g.: - a field was dropped, added or modified] and every program, which
accesses that file, had to be changed.
Def.: - The ability to define or describe data separately from an application
program. [Defining data separately from the programs is called data independence]
Advantage:-It is possible to change the data without having to change the programs.
2). Data Redundancy: -
Def.: - When the same value in the same data element describing the same entity and
occurs in more than one file.
E.g.: - Student file in Enrollment office
Student file in Placement office
Student file in library
Multiple files lead to data redundancy and data inconsistency.
3). Data Consistency: -
Change of address made at one office i.e., Placement office, to ensure that
they send notices to the right location. But in other offices addresses are not changed
(incorrect), which leads to data inconsistency.
In accuracy in data files, such as inconsistencies, mean that files lack data

Office may use separate programs to process their files.

Like Enrollment office may run -- COBOL program to access its record.
Placement office may run -- an Assembler language program to access its record.
[Compilers and Assemblers are translation programs, for translating user
programs in to machine language programs].

IV. Components of DBMS: -

Database Management Systems is a collection of software programs, which
performs the following functions:
1. Stores data in a uniform and consistent way.
2. Organizes the data into records in a uniform and consistent way.
3. Allows access to data in a uniform and consistent way

DBMS is purchased from commercial vendors. The components of a DBMS will

vary from one vendor to vendor.
1) Data dictionary/directory 6) Archiving, Backup and Recovery systems
2) Data language 7) Report writers
3) Tele processing monitors 8) Query language (SQL, QBE)
4) Application development tools 9) Multi platform databases
5) Security software. 10) Web server’s software.

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1) Data dictionary: - [Major tool of dba]

It is a software module and database containing meta-data i.e., data about
data. Data dictionary contains Meta -data about the structure, data elements and other
characteristics of an organizational database.
It contains names and descriptions of every data element in the database and
also contains how data elements relate to one another.
The data dictionary contains schema of the database. It describes each data
item in the database, lists its structure, source, person, authorized to modify it, etc.
Through Data dictionary, a DBMS stores data in a uniform and consistent
manner thus reducing redundancy.

2) Data languages: -
DDL (Data Definition Language) -- This is to describe the characteristics of the
data elements. (Standard commands ---- uniform). These commands are part of DML
(Data Manipulation Language), where programmers use to retrieve and process data
from the database.
DML commands ---- Get, Find, Insert

3) Teleprocessing monitors: -
It is a communication software package, which manages communication
between database and remote terminals.
TPM handles order entry systems.
TPM can also be developed by DBMS software firm and offer a companion
packages to their db.

4) Application Development tools: -

It is a program designed to help programmers to develop application programs
that use the db.
Application development programs included in DBMS products often include

5) Security software: -
It is to protect the db from unauthorized access and from unauthorized viruses.

6) Archiving, Backup and Recovery systems: -

Archiving program provide db manager with tools to make copies of the
database, which can be used, when original database records are damaged or
Recovery/Restart systems are tools used to restart the db and to recover the
lost data in the event of a failure.
Backup system automate making copies of data & work with restart /recovery
systems to recover from db failures.

7) Report writers: -
It is used to design output reports without writing an application program in
programming language-COBOL.
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8) Query languages: -
It is to retrieve data from db.
It is a set of commands used to access data from a database. It allows to ask ad
hoc questions interactively.

Tools used to query a db: -

a) SQL (Structured Query Language): -
English like commands. It used in most DBMS.
E.g.: - Select NAME from EMP, where NAME=Raj;

b) Natural language Quires: -

These are structured so that the commands used are as close to Standard
English as possible.
E.g.: - List the names and address of all customers who live in Ashok Nagar.

c) QBE (Query By Language): -

It does not require writing statements directly. It uses graphical approach to
construct a query. Drag and drop of data element from the records is done.

9) Multiple Platform Database: -

Some DBMS software products work on many different computer hardware
and operating system platforms.
E.g.: - DBMS - offers in versions for mainframe, mini computers, workstations
and microcomputers.

10) Web server software: -

Many DBMS vendors have integrated WWW sever software into their
Database Web server enables users with web connectivity
to access the data from where ever they are located.

VI. Models of DBMS: -

There are four models to organize record and their relationships in a database.
Hierarchical database model
Network database model.
Relational database model
Object oriented database model.

1) Hierarchical Database Model: -

In this model records are organized into a hierarchy of relationships like an
inverted tree pattern (tree with branches turned upside down).
The relation between entities are structured in such a way as to link with only
one data item at the high level (1: M relationship)-called Parent-child relationship.
Data stored in a lower level node called child record can be accessed only
through the high level node called parent record.

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Building1 Parent of room

Children of Building
Room 1 Room 2 Parent of Equipment

Children of Room
Equipment 1 Equipment 2 Equipment 3 Parent of Vendor

Children of Equipment
Vendor 1 Vendor 2 Vendor 3 Parent of Repair

Repair 1 Repair 2 Repair 3 Children of Vendor

Fig.: - Hierarchical database model

2) Network Database Model: -
In this model, the relationships are stored in the form of sets; each set having
one owner record and one or more number records.
This structure permits multiple relations between data items (M:M relation ship)
Any data element can be related to any number of other data elements
Vendor 1 Vendor 2

Repair 1 Repair 2 Repair 3

Equipment 1 Equipment 2
Fig.: - Network database model
3) Relational Database Model: -
In this model all data elements stored in the database are organized in tables.
Different data tables are linked up using common type of data items in a table. The
table is called relation. The columns of the table are called domains and the rows of
the table are called Tuple.
Tuple contains data items called data elements.


4) Object-Oriented Database Model: -

In this model each object is bound together with its own data and set of
instructions that describes the behavior and attributes of the object.
The object use messages to interact with one another.
Every object is described by set of attributes.

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Object Class 1

Object Class 1 Object Class 1

Attributes Attributes

Fig.: Object-oriented database model

Evolution of Database Structure: -

5th Generation ---- Object –oriented structures
4th Generation ---- Relational structures.
3rd Generation ---- Network structures.
2nd Generation ---- Hierarchical structure
1st Generation ---- File structures

V. Views of the data: -

Any database contains two types of data
1) Actual data-employee names, hourly wage rates and hours worked
2) Information about data. i.e., it contains
a) Definition of each data element
b) How data element relates to other data elements.
Data that describe the properties or characteristics of other data is called Meta data.
Data in a database has two levels.
1) Logical view: -
It is the way where users perceive records are structured and their relation
ship among the records in the database.
2) Physical View: -
The way the records are actually organized and stored.
User view 1 User view 2 User view 3
(Report) (Screen display) (Transaction)

Conceptual Conceptual
Schema view

Internal schema Physical


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A schema is a description of the logical view of the database. It includes all

the data elements in the databases and shows how these elements are logically relate
to each other. Tools used to design schema is an E-R diagram.
A Sub schema is a less compressive logical view of the database .It consists
of subset of data elements in a database by an application programmer, an
application program or a user. Subschema makes the database secure i.e., DBMS
will not allow users of an application program to access data not set their view.

VII. Advantages of DBMS: -

1) Data sharing: -
Database permits simultaneous multiple access to the database i.e., multiple
users can share the same data.
2) Redundancy control: -
Database minimizes duplication of data from file to file. This is avoided by
maintaining only one record in a database rather than in the files of many
3) Reduced data consistency: -
Reduced redundancy means data consistency is also reduced.
4) Data independence: -
The data is logically designed in to databases and it is independent of
applications. Since the data is program independent and, any application can use it
without any modification to the code (reduces program maintenance costs).
5) Data availability: -
The database is centrally controlled and access to data is permitted through
an authorization schema. The data resources are therefore available to the user in the
organization, subject to authorization procedure.
6) Increased user productivity: -
Data is used by query languages and report generators allow them to
produce reports without any help from MIS people, which allow to complete the work
7) Improved Data administration and control: -
Data dictionary became easier to control so accessing, privacy, updations and
deletions are also made easier control, because the database responsibility is under the
control of one person or department.

VIII. Problems Of DBMS: -

1) Concurrency Problems: -
When DBMS is not designed for multiple users the following problems occurs
E.g.: - Sales person – A Sales person – B But in inventory
Customer – A - 200 Customer – B – 150 there are only 300

a) File locking – Only one sales person can sell product any time.
b) Record locking- Unavailable for use for another people.
c) Field locking- it allows only one person to make a change in data element.
Another method to solve concurrency:
Versioning - It permits every user to view a record and make updates in that record.
This system checks the record before updations is actually done.
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2) Resource Problems: -
DBMS requires Extra computing resources. Data must be stored online to
answer queries, which requires:
- Additional hard disk
- More communication devices
- Database
- Increase in size of CPU’s

3) Security Problems: -
Only authorized personnel should access data and only these persons can add,
update and delete in the database.
So for better security of data Login identification and Passwords are used

IX. Normalization: -
Normalization is an important technique to design databases. It is primarily a tool to
validate and improve a logical design, so that it satisfies certain constraints that avoid
unnecessary duplication of data.
DBMS is a powerful tool, with ability to present data in many ways. They are used by
managers to answer many different types of questions. This flexibility is not automatic so
databases need to be carefully designed. Poor design leads to unnecessary duplication of
Normalization is the process of gathering data items (or properties) into smaller
well-structured relations. Normalization reduces the complexity of data structure and
makes it as simple as possible for effective management and manipulation.
Normalization is the process of converting a relation to a standard form.
A table is said to be in a particular normal form if it obeys the rules of that normal
The process of normalization starts with the normalized data.
1) First Normal Form (1NF): -
The process of 1NF is to be done as follows:
1. The unnormalized data is converted into a tabular form.
2. All the columns and rows in the table are filled.
3. Repeated occurrences of data items are removed.
4. The keys to the entire table are identified.
In writing a database repeating section should not be present. So, that space can
be saved. When a table contains no repeating sections, we say that it is a first
normal form. [Or a relation, which contains no multivalued attributes]

TransID Rentdate CustID Name Phone Address VideoID Copyno Title Rent

1 16/03/2001 5 Ramu 7610052 Koti 3 1 PTKK 20

1 16/03/2001 5 Ramu 7610052 Koti 4 2 KNPH 20
2 18/03/2001 6 Shiva 6318040 Abids 3 2 PTKK 20
2 18/03/2001 6 Shiva 6318040 Abids 6 1 HSSH 20
2 18/03/2001 6 Shiva 6318040 Abids 2 1 MKKH 20

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Rent(TransID, Rentdate, CustID, Name, Phone, Address, (VideoID, Copyno, Title, Rent))

Rent1(TransID, Rentdate, CustID, Name, Phone, Address)

Rent2(TransID, VideoID, Copyno, Title, Rent)

TransID Rentdate CustID Name Phone Address

1 16/03/2001 5 Ramu 7610052 Koti

2 18/03/2001 6 Shiva 6318040 Abids
3 18/03/2001 4 Raj 5348672 S.R Nagar
4 16/03/2001 5 Ramu 7610052 Koti

TransID VideoID Copyno Title Rent

1 3 1 PTKK 20
1 4 2 KNPH 20
2 3 2 PTKK 20
2 6 1 HSSH 20
2 2 1 MKKH 20
3 1 1 KKHH 20
3 9 1 KMKK 20

2) Second Normal Form (2NF): -

The process of 2NF is to be done as follows:
1. Using the table of 1NF, identify those items that are dependent on the
entire key and those are partially dependent on the entire key.
2. Split the tables into smaller tables in such a fashion that each item depends
only on the entire key.

Rent2(TransID, VideoID, Copyno, Title, Rent)

Videosrented(TransID, VideoID, Copyno) Video(VideoID, Title, Rent)

TransID VideoID Copyno VideoID Title Rent

1 3 1 1 KKHH 20
1 4 2 2 MKKH 20
2 8 2 3 PTKK 20
2 6 1 4 KNPH 20
2 2 1 6 HSSH 20
3 1 1 9 KMKK 20
3 9 1

3) Third Normal From (3NF): -

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A relation that is in Second normal form and has no transitive dependencies

Transitive dependency ---- a functional dependency between two or more nonkey
[The table must already be in second Normal Form. Customer data is entered for
each and every new transaction, where it does not depend on the Primary Key (Trans
Id), But it depend on the Customer Id column].
Rent1(TransID, Rentdate, CustID, Name, Phone, Address)

Rentals(TransID, Rentdate, CustID) Customers(CustID, Name, Phone, Address)

TransID Rentdate CustID CustID Name Phone Address

111ksdcndlkncv 1
1 16/03/2001 5 4 Raj 5348672 S.R Nagar
2 18/03/2001 6 5 Ramu 7610052 Koti
3 18/03/2001 4 6 Shiva 6318040 Abids
4 16/03/2001 5

Rentdate Videosrented
Copyno Video
Name VideoID
Phone Title
Address Rent

X. Specialized databases: -
In addition to traditional databases many organizations have developed specialized
1) Intranet and Hypermedia database
2) On line database
3) Data warehousing
4) Data Marts
5) Online Analytical processing
6) Image databases
7) Document database.
Decision makers to make decisions require internal and external data to reduce risk
and increase competitiveness.

1) Hypermedia databases and Intranet: -

Hyper text document s are contains link to other pages.

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Hypermedia databases are systems in which hypertext documents are the

records. The documents in hypermedia databases can be internal and external.
The external documents located at more than one site, by World Wide Web.
The web is the part of interconnected computer systems called the Internet.
The internal documents are available on company’s own network referred to
as intranet.
Hypermedia can be text, image, sound clips, video clips and other types of
data, which can be read by a single piece of soft ware called a browser.
Information stored in hypermedia documents may be accessed in non-
sequential fashion by just clicking a mouse button to link the other documents.
Any Browser can read any hypermedia document as it is written in a standard
format called HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) in the form of tags.
Documents formatted in HTML can be read by any browser on any platform i.e.,
Macintosh, IBM PC or a UNIX workstation.

2) On-Line databases: -
Managers can access information directly from on-line databases through on-
line information services such as Microsoft Network (MSN), America Online
(AOL), etc.
On-line databases are essentially electronic libraries, where different types of
information can be available when connected to World Wide Web.

3) Data warehousing: - [Creates enterprise wide]

A system that stores, retrieves, manages or manipulates massive amounts of
data that may be from the organizational databases and external sources. The data is
typically stored in one large file server or a central computer.
The warehouse of data is often separated from organizations production
databases so that users can use this resource with out reducing the response time for
an organization routine data processing operations.
Traditional databases are transaction oriented
Data warehouse is subject oriented.
Purpose of data warehouse: -To make large amount of data available to
organization personnel to support in decisions. The key to a successful warehouse is
to integrate companies and external database systems.

Major components:
1) Data
2) Hardware and network infrastructure that provides storage and
3) Software to extract data
4) Graphical query tools
5) A user guide (Help)
6) Warehouse Management soft ware for Information system
personnel to maintain and upgrade the warehouse.
7) It is a generation of technologies that provide multidimensional
views of database, so refers to as multidimensional analysis.

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4) Data Marts: -
Data marts are formed to meet data needed for one department in an
These are built faster and easier than data warehouse because they focus on the
subset of an organization’s data needs.

5) OLAP [On-Line Analytical Processing]: -

It is a group of technologies that provide multidimensional views of a database, so
referred to as multidimensional analysis.
It permits to ask ad hoc questions of an OLAP database for tactical and strategic
planning decision support.
OLAP databases are data warehouses that may include filtered and aggregated
data from many sources (Internal, external)
RDBMS stores data in two-dimensional tables like a spreadsheet.
OLAP stores data in multi dimensional. Data stored in this way is called a

Data Mining: It helps business to find meaning in data lying idle. It helps in drawing
inferences from the data and in understanding the customer, products and markets
Data Mining employs a host of techniques, i.e., statistical techniques like linear
programming, data analysis, machine learning and online analytical processing.

6) Image databases: -
Image management software is used to store images in an image database in
order to find and access the data quickly.
Multimedia, CAD/CAM, presentation graphics etc are used to create images.

7) Document databases: -
Document databases consist of data in the form of letters, memos, reports and other
documents in an organization. Document management software allows easy access,
and manipulates the documents wherever they are located.
The document databases can be compressed in order to reduce the disk space.

XI. Distributed systems: -

The key component to the success of many organizations is to network an
This is to connect to their customers and vendors.

Distributed processing: -
It is defined as a system in which both computer power and data occur at more than
one site, and application programs are run at more than one site.
It is associated with all types of network.
E.g.: -LAN’s, WAN’s, and even Internet – Geographically distributed.

Networ Router
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Host 1 Host 2 Host 3

Hub Hub Hub

Workstations Workstations

Fig: - Geographically distributed processing Fig: - Locally distributed processing

Hub: -A device that connects many workstations to a Network.

Reasons for Implementing Distributed Processing: -

Distributed data processing became uneconomical, because of centralized computer
a) Improved Response time: - But if more people logon the response time here also
reduces. E.g.: - 8AM to 11AM
b) Reduced costs: - Transmission costs are reduced.
c) Improved accuracy and concurrency: - control of data entry and data storage.
d) Reduced mainframe costs.
e) Smother growth: - No need to install, program debugged and data conversion.
f) Increased reliability: - In centralize system, if host fails entire system will fail. In a
distributed system, failures of one processor disrupts only the operations depend on the
g) Resource sharing: -Many users can share and locate at any where on the network.
h) Increased user satisfactions:-In centralized application, program development staff
usually face a large backlog of application development tasks.

Distributed databases: -
When organizations need to decentralize their computer processing, they also need to
decentralize their databases, called distributed database systems.

There are two types of distributed databases.

1) Replicated db’s and 2) partitioned db’s

1) Replicated db’s: -
This provides duplicates of all data at all sites, but at every location same data will
be accessed.


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(Copy 2)
(Copy 1)

Workstations Workstations
(Chennai) (Banglore)

Advantage: -Security to the database in case of failure at one location.

Disadvantages: -1) Very Expensive
2) Difficult and costly to maintain for each data element.
2) Partitioned databases: -
In this the db is divided in to segments, which are appropriate to certain
locations and distributed only those locations.
E.g.: -1) Database can be partitioned functionally i.e., financial, marketing and
administrative data can be kept at corporate head quarters. Relevant production and
personnel data can be kept at each manufacturing plant and office site.
2) Database can be partitioned geographically i.e., all locally relevant information -
financial, marketing, administrative, production and personnel.


db db
Copy 2
Copy 1

Workstations Workstations Workstations

Head quarters Factory Factory

Advantages of Distributed db’s: -

1) Reducing costs, transferring data between remote sites and its head quarters
2) Provides faster response time i.e., filling ordering, answering requests.
Disadvantages: -
1) Additional files and databases are established, so creates redundancy and

Client/Server computing: -
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Client - PC – Application processing.

Server - LAN (mini/micro) - Makes a requests.

Components for hardware side: -

1) Server, 2) client 3) a good communication system.

Components for software side: -

1) A good GUI based OS 2) DBMS 3) Necessary Open Data Base Connectivity
(ODBC) drivers and Application Programming Interface (API).

Server Client PC

Communication media

1) SQL servers: -
Common application of client /server computing is use of relational database
software called SQL server. This package usually runs on a network. These are
more reliable than LAN based.
2) Downsizing: -
It reduces equipment cost, development cost, purchasing, hardware and
software maintenance.

Inter organizational IS: -

Information System is confined to organizational boundaries.
E.g.: - Accounting IS ------ To employees of accounting.
Now it is distributed to more than one called Inter organizational IS ---
client/Server technology.

1) EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) ----- primarily bilateral

2) Electronic Market System ----- Multilateral

Data Dictionary: -
The data dictionary is the heart of the database, which holds all information
about the data stored in the database. Both Management and System people
extensively use data dictionary for various functions. It acts as a catalogue providing
information on the following:
1. The way data is defined
2. Types of data that are present
3. Relationship among various data entities.
4. The representation format.
5. Keys for the database.
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6. People who are accessing the data.

7. Access rules for every user.

Primary key:
An attribute (or combination of attributes) that uniquely identifies each row in
a relation.
Secondary key:
One field or a combination of fields for which more than one record may have
the same combination of values.