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A query is a request for data or information from a database table or combination of tables. This data may be generated as results returned by Structured Query Language (SQL) or as pictorials, graphs or complex results, e.g., trend analyses from data-mining tools.
One of several different query languages may be used to perform a range of simple to complex database queries. SQL, the most well-known and widely-used query language, is familiar to most database administrators (DBAs).
The query database feature is equal in necessity to data storage capability. Thus, a number of query languages have been developed for different database engines and purposes, but SQL is by far the most ubiquitous and well-known. In fact, rookie database administrators often are surprised when they learn about the existence of other query languages, somewhat akin to how native English-speaking children are perplexed when hearing a foreign language for the first time. The element of surprise in both scenarios leads to a better understanding of other languages.
Query languages generate different data types according to function. For example, SQL returns data in neat rows and columns and is very similar to Microsoft Excel in appearance.
Other query languages generate data as graphs or other complex data manipulations, e.g., data mining, which is the deep analysis of information that uncovers previously-unknown trends and relationships between distinct or divergent data. For example, a SQL manufacturing company query may reveal that monthly sales peak in June and July, or that female sales representatives continually outperform male counterparts during holiday months.