Network Model

What Does Network Model Mean?

A network model is a database model that is designed as a flexible approach to representing objects and their relationships. A unique feature of the network model is its schema, which is viewed as a graph where relationship types are arcs and object types are nodes.


Unlike other database models, the network model's schema is not confined to be a lattice or hierarchy; the hierarchical tree is replaced by a graph, which allows for more basic connections with the nodes.

Techopedia Explains Network Model

Charles Bachman was the original inventor of the network model. In 1969, the Conference on Data Systems Languages (CODASYL) Consortium developed the network model into a standard specification. A second publication was introduced in 1971, which later turned into the basis for virtually all implementations. It was widely supplanted by the Relational Model later on because of its higher-level, more declarative interface.

The main advantage of the network model is the ability to address the lack of flexibility of the hierarchical model, of which it is supposed to be a direct evolution. In the network model, each child (called “member”) can have more than one parent (called “owner”) to generate more complex, many-to-many relationships.

The benefits of the network model include:

  • Simple Concept: Similar to the hierarchical model, this model is simple and the implementation is effortless.

  • Ability to Manage More Relationship Types: The network model has the ability to manage one-to-one (1:1) as well as many-to-many (N: N) relationships.

  • Easy Access to Data: Accessing the data is simpler when compared to the hierarchical model.

  • Data Integrity: In a network model, there's always a connection between the parent and the child segments because it depends on the parent-child relationship.

  • Data Independence: Data independence is better in network models as opposed to the hierarchical models.

The drawbacks of the network model include:

  • System Complexity: Each and every record has to be maintained with the help of pointers, which makes the database structure more complex.

  • Functional Flaws: Because a great number of pointers is essential, insertion, updates, and deletion become more complex.

  • Lack of Structural Independence: A change in structure demands a change in the application as well, which leads to lack of structural independence.

  • Incomplete Flexibility: Albeit more flexible than the hierarchical model, the network one still cannot satisfy all relations by assigning another owner.


Related Terms

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.