A database management system is a computer application
used to create, maintain, and provide controlled access to a database. A
database is a shared collection of logically related data pertinent to an area
of endeavor. A database management system is used to facilitate the collection,
organization, and retrieval of data needed by the community of individuals
involved in the endeavor. The system is used through the facilities of a "user
interface" which provides the computer aided functions of data storage,
retrieval, and modification.
In an organization's producibility efforts, the use of a
database management system would pertain to a number of areas including: design
guidelines, process capability guidelines, process measurement data, product
measurement data, and producibility analyses data. The management and effective
use of this data would be greatly facilitated through the functions of an
associated database management system.
Data can be described as facts concerning objects,
events, processes, or activities. Information is data that has been organized,
processed, and presented in a form suitable for human interpretation and use.
The steps necessary to convert data into information are acquisition, storage,
manipulation, retrieval, and distribution. These steps describe the functions of
a database management system.
In any endeavor, data is a primary constituent; and it
exists of its own accord, with little, if any, human intervention. This data
includes historical data providing the information necessary to initiate the
endeavor as well as data gained as the endeavor progresses. The optimum
conclusion of the endeavor is greatly influenced by the use of this data. A
database management system maximizes the efficient, effective, and complete use
of the data, which, in turn, maximizes the level of success of the endeavor.
As stated above, if management of data is not addressed,
the data will still exist, but it will exist in a disorganized and possibly
unusable state. Using a database management system ensures that data can be
efficiently stored and retrieved for use when necessary. Benefits of a database
management system include:
Minimal Data Redundancy: Occurrence of a data item is limited to the minimum
necessary, in most cases, one. Minimal data redundancy promotes accuracy and
efficiency in data storage and facilitates data consistency (see below). In a
relatively few cases, duplicate occurrences of a data item are utilized for
faster data access. The point is that, with a database management system,
redundancy is controlled.
Consistency of Data:
The elimination of data redundancy ensures data consistency. In those cases
where data redundancy is allowed, a database management system enforces data
Integration of Data: In a database, data is organized into single, logically related
structures. A database management system provides functions for exploiting the
data relationships in retrieval and subsequent analysis.
Sharing of Data: A
database management system provides for shared use of the database among
Uniform Security, Privacy, and Integrity Controls: A database management system includes controls
in the use of the database. These controls and their administration through
centralized and standardized processes provide for the security, privacy, and
integrity of the data.
A database management system is useful throughout the
lifetime of an endeavor. In the planning stage, the database can provide
information from specifications, samples, and similar successful efforts that
will produce a plan that leads to a successful execution with minimum changes.
In the execution stage, this same information can guide the execution through
areas that may otherwise produce problems. At completion, the database
management system is used in evaluating the success of the endeavor. Throughout
the endeavor, a database management system collects additional data that can be
used in future efforts.
A database management system includes a "user interface"
that provides for the execution of those functions embedded in the operation of
the database. These functions include simple storage, retrieval, and
modification of data. Also, the system allows for data searches based on a
partial definition of the data to be retrieved or based on the logical
relationships of associated data. Most systems implement the Structured Query
Language (SQL) that provides a standardized methodology for execution of
Database management systems are available from a
multitude of vendors. Several representative systems are listed below:
Paradox 9: Paradox 9
is a relational database application that allows novice users to create a
database with ready-to-use templates. Help features guide users through the
creation of tables, forms, reports, and other database components. For more
experienced users, Paradox 9 includes an object-based, event-driven development
language that is used to create customized database applications. Paradox 9
operates in the Microsoft Windows environment. It is available from Corel
Corporation, 1600 Carling Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario, K1Z 8R7, Canada. Telephone
Microsoft Access 2000, a component of the Professional edition of Office 2000,
is a widely used desktop database. It provides a broad range of tools to enter,
analyze, and present data for individuals and workgroups managing megabytes of
data. Microsoft Access 2000 operates in the Microsoft Windows environment. It is
available from Microsoft Corporation, One Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA 98052-6399.
Telephone (425) 882-8080.
Visual FoxPro 6.0: Microsoft Visual FoxPro 6.0 is the newest version of Microsoft's tool
for creating high-performance database components and solutions. Visual FoxPro
6.0 gives developers the necessary tool for programming a fully developed data
management application for end users. Visual FoxPro 6.0 operates in the
Microsoft Windows environment and can manage a database of over 100 Gbytes. It
is available from Microsoft Corporation, One Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA
98052-6399. Telephone (425) 882-8080.
McFadden, F. R., & Hoffer, J. A. (1994). Modern Database Management. Cambridge, MA: Benjamin-Cummings Publishing Company.
Rob, P., & Coronel, C. (1997). Database Systems, Design, Implementation, and Management. Cambridge: Course Technology.