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In general, an attribute is a characteristic. In a database management system (DBMS), an attribute refers to a database component, such as a table.
It also may refer to a database field. Attributes describe the instances in the column of a database.
In relational databases, attributes are the describing characteristics or properties that define all items pertaining to a certain category applied to all cells of a column.
The rows, instead, are called tuples, and represent data sets applied to a single entity to uniquely identify each item. Attributes are, therefore, the characteristics of every individual tuple that help describe its unique properties.
Think of a table in a relational database as being analogous to an electronic spreadsheet. An attribute is simply one non-null cell in the spreadsheet, or the conjunction of a column and row.
It stores only one piece of data about the object represented by the table in which the attribute belongs. For example, the tuple can be an Invoice entity. The attributes of an invoice might be Price, Number, Date or Paid/unpaid.
Beyond the self-explanatory simple or single-valued attributes, there are several types of attributes available.