January 25, 2011

DBMS features and capabilities and DBMS building blocks

DBMS building blocks

A DBMS includes four main parts: modeling language, data structure, database query language, and transaction mechanisms:

1)Modeling language

A data modeling language to define the schema of each database hosted in the DBMS, according to the DBMS database model. The four most common types of models are the:

* hierarchical model,
* network model,
* relational model, and
* object model.
2)Data structure

Data structures (fields, records, files and objects) optimized to deal with very large amounts of data stored on a permanent data storage device (which implies relatively slow access compared to volatile main memory)

3) Database query language

A database query language and report writer allows users to interactively interrogate the database, analyze its data and update it according to the users privileges on data. It also controls the security of the database. Data security prevents unauthorized users from viewing or updating the database. Using passwords, users are allowed access to the entire database or subsets of it called subschemas. For example, an employee database can contain all the data about an individual employee, but one group of users may be authorized to view only payroll data, while others are allowed access to only work history and medical data.

If the DBMS provides a way to interactively enter and update the database, as well as interrogate it, this capability allows for managing personal databases. However, it may not leave an audit trail of actions or provide the kinds of controls necessary in a multi-user organization. These controls are only available when a set of application programs are customized for each data entry and updating function

4) Transaction mechanism

A database transaction mechanism ideally guarantees ACID properties in order to ensure data integrity despite concurrent user accesses (concurrency control), and faults (fault tolerance). It also maintains the integrity of the data in the database. The DBMS can maintain the integrity of the database by not allowing more than one user to update the same record at the same time. The DBMS can help prevent duplicate records via unique index constraints; for example, no two customers with the same customer numbers (key fields) can be entered into the database. See ACID properties for more information (Redundancy avoidance).

DBMS features and capabilities
Query ability
Querying is the process of requesting attribute information from various perspectives and combinations of factors. Example: "How many 2-door cars in Texas are green?" A database query language and report writer allow users to interactively interrogate the database, analyze its data and update it according to the users privileges on data.

Backup and replication
Copies of attributes need to be made regularly in case primary disks or other equipment fails. A periodic copy of attributes may also be created for a distant organization that cannot readily access the original. DBMS usually provide utilities to facilitate the process of extracting and disseminating attribute sets. When data is replicated between database servers, so that the information remains consistent throughout the database system and users cannot tell or even know which server in the DBMS they are using, the system is said to exhibit replication transparency.

Rule enforcement
Often one wants to apply rules to attributes so that the attributes are clean and reliable. For example, we may have a rule that says each car can have only one engine associated with it (identified by Engine Number). If somebody tries to associate a second engine with a given car, we want the DBMS to deny such a request and display an error message. However, with changes in the model specification such as, in this example, hybrid gas-electric cars, rules may need to change. Ideally such rules should be able to be added and removed as needed without significant data layout redesign.

Security
Often it is desirable to limit who can see or change which attributes or groups of attributes. This may be managed directly by individual, or by the assignment of individuals and privileges to groups, or (in the most elaborate models) through the assignment of individuals and groups to roles which are then granted entitlements.

Computation
There are common computations requested on attributes such as counting, summing, averaging, sorting, grouping, cross-referencing, etc. Rather than have each computer application implement these from scratch, they can rely on the DBMS to supply such calculations.

Change and access logging
Often one wants to know who accessed what attributes, what was changed, and when it was changed. Logging services allow this by keeping a record of access occurrences and changes.

Automated optimization
If there are frequently occurring usage patterns or requests, some DBMS can adjust themselves to improve the speed of those interactions. In some cases the DBMS will merely provide tools to monitor performance, allowing a human expert to make the necessary adjustments after reviewing the statistics collected.

Meta-data repository

Metadata is data describing data. For example, a listing that describes what attributes are allowed to be in data sets is called "meta-information". The meta-data is also known as data about data.

Relational DBMS

Edgar Codd worked at IBM in San Jose, California, in one of their offshoot offices that was primarily involved in the development of hard disk systems. He was unhappy with the navigational model of the Codasyl approach, notably the lack of a "search" facility which was becoming increasingly useful. In 1970, he wrote a number of papers that outlined a new approach to database construction that eventually culminated in the groundbreaking A Relational Model of Data for Large Shared Data Banks.[1]

In this paper, he described a new system for storing and working with large databases. Instead of records being stored in some sort of linked list of free-form records as in Codasyl, Codd's idea was to use a "table" of fixed-length records. A linked-list system would be very inefficient when storing "sparse" databases where some of the data for any one record could be left empty. The relational model solved this by splitting the data into a series of normalized tables, with optional elements being moved out of the main table to where they would take up room only if needed.

Linking the information back together is the key to this system. In the relational model, some bit of information was used as a "key", uniquely defining a particular record. When information was being collected about a user, information stored in the optional (or related) tables would be found by searching for this key. For instance, if the login name of a user is unique, addresses and phone numbers for that user would be recorded with the login name as its key. This "re-linking" of related data back into a single collection is something that traditional computer languages are not designed for.

The rules

Rule 0: The system must qualify as relational, as a database, and as a management system.

For a system to qualify as a relational database management system (RDBMS), that system must use its relational facilities (exclusively) to manage the database.

Rule 1: The information rule:

All information in the database is to be represented in one and only one way, namely by values in column positions within rows of tables.

Rule 2: The guaranteed access rule:

All data must be accessible. This rule is essentially a restatement of the fundamental requirement for primary keys. It says that every individual scalar value in the database must be logically addressable by specifying the name of the containing table, the name of the containing column and the primary key value of the containing row.

Rule 3: Systematic treatment of null values:

The DBMS must allow each field to remain null (or empty). Specifically, it must support a representation of "missing information and inapplicable information" that is systematic, distinct from all regular values (for example, "distinct from zero or any other number", in the case of numeric values), and independent of data type. It is also implied that such representations must be manipulated by the DBMS in a systematic way.

Rule 4: Active online catalog based on the relational model:

The system must support an online, in line, relational catalog that is accessible to authorized users by means of their regular query language. That is, users must be able to access the database's structure (catalog) using the same query language that they use to access the database's data.

Rule 5: The comprehensive data sub language rule:

The system must support at least one relational language that

1. Has a linear syntax
2. Can be used both interactively and within application programs,
3. Supports data definition operations (including view definitions), data manipulation operations (update as well as retrieval), security and integrity constraints, and transaction management operations (begin, commit, and rollback).

Rule 6: The view updating rule:

All views that are theoretically editable must be editable by the system.

Rule 7: High-level insert, update, and delete:

The system must support set-at-a-time insert, update, and delete operators. This means that data can be retrieved from a relational database in sets constructed of data from multiple rows and/or multiple tables. This rule states that insert, update, and delete operations should be supported for any retrievable set rather than just for a single row in a single table.

Rule 8: Physical data independence:

Changes to the physical level (how the data is stored, whether in arrays or linked lists etc.) must not require a change to an application based on the structure.

Rule 9: Logical data independence:

Changes to the logical level (tables, columns, rows, and so on) must not require a change to an application based on the structure. Logical data independence is more difficult to achieve than physical data independence.

Rule 10: Integrity independence:

Integrity constraints must be specified separately from application programs and stored in the catalog. It must be possible to change such constraints as and when appropriate without unnecessarily affecting existing applications.

Rule 11: Distribution independence:

The distribution of portions of the database to various locations should be invisible to users of the database. Existing applications should continue to operate successfully :

1. when a distributed version of the DBMS is first introduced; and
2. when existing distributed data are redistributed around the system.

Rule 12: The non subversion rule:

If the system provides a low-level (record-at-a-time) interface, then that interface cannot be used to subvert the system, for example, bypassing a relational security or integrity constraint.