Relational Database

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What Does Relational Database Mean?

A relational database (RDB) is a collective set of multiple data sets organized by tables, records and columns. RDBs establish a well-defined relationship between database tables. Tables communicate and share information, which facilitates data searchability, organization and reporting.

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RDBs use Structured Query Language (SQL), which is a standard user application that provides an easy programming interface for database interaction.

RDB is derived from the mathematical function concept of mapping data sets and was developed by Edgar F. Codd.

Techopedia Explains Relational Database

RDBs organize data in different ways. Each table is known as a relation, which contains one or more data category columns. Each table record (or row) contains a unique data instance defined for a corresponding column category. One or more data or record characteristics relate to one or many records to form functional dependencies. These are classified as follows:

  • One to One: One table record relates to another record in another table.
  • One to Many: One table record relates to many records in another table.
  • Many to One: More than one table record relates to another table record.
  • Many to Many: More than one table record relates to more than one record in another table.

RDB performs “select”, “project” and “join” database operations, where select is used for data retrieval, project identifies data attributes, and join combines relations.

RDBs have many other advantages, including:

  • Easy extendability, as new data may be added without modifying existing records. This is also known as scalability.
  • New technology performance, power and flexibility with multiple data requirement capabilities.
  • Data security, which is critical when data sharing is based on privacy. For example, management may share certain data privileges and access and block employees from other data, such as confidential salary or benefit information.
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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.