System Catalog

What Does System Catalog Mean?

A system catalog is a group of tables and views that incorporate vital details regarding a database. Every database comprised of a system catalog and the information in the system catalog specifies the framework of the database.


For instance, the data dictionary language (DDL) for every table in the database is saved in the system catalog.

Techopedia Explains System Catalog

The system catalog is a vital part of a database. Inside the database, there are objects, which include tables, views and indexes. Basically, the system catalog is a set of objects, which includes information that defines:

  • Other objects included in the database
  • The database structure itself
  • Several other vital pieces of information

The system catalog intended for implementation can be split into logical groups of objects. This is to offer tables that are accessible by not just the admin of the database, but also by all other database users as well. For instance, users might want to see the specific database privileges that they have been granted with; however, have no requirement to find out regarding the database’s processes or internal structure.

A user generally looks up the system catalog to gain information regarding the user’s own objects as well as privileges, while the database admin must be capable of inquiring about any event or structure inside the database. In certain implementations, one can find system catalog objects, which can be accessible only by the administrator of the database.

A system catalog is extremely important to database admins or all other database users who wish to understand the nature and structure of a database. The system catalog lets order to be kept, not just by the users and database administrator, but also by the database server as well.


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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.