Hierarchical Database

What Does Hierarchical Database Mean?

A hierarchical database is a design that uses a one-to-many relationship for data elements. Hierarchical database models use a tree structure that links a number of disparate elements to one “owner,” or “parent,” primary record.

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Techopedia Explains Hierarchical Database

The idea behind hierarchical database models is useful for a certain type of data storage, but it is not extremely versatile. Its limitations mean that it is confined to some very specific uses. For example, where each individual person in a company may report to a given department, the department can be used as a parent record and the individual employees will represent secondary records, each of which links back to that one parent record in a hierarchical structure.

Hierarchical databases were popular in early database design, in the era of mainframe computers. While some IBM and Microsoft models are still in use, many other types of business databases use more flexible models to accommodate more sophisticated types of data management. Hierarchical models make the most sense where the primary focus of information gathering is on a concrete hierarchy such as a list of business departments, assets or people that will all be associated with specific higher-level primary data elements.

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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse 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 explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…