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Data Dictionaries

A data dictionary is a file or a set of files that includes a database's metadata. The data dictionary hold records about other objects in the database, such as data ownership, data relationships to other objects, and other data. The data dictionary is an essential component of any relational database. Ironically, because of its importance, it is invisible to most database users. Typically, only database administrators interact with the data dictionary.

The data dictionary, in general, includes information about the following:

  • Name of the data item
  • Aliases
  • Description/purpose
  • Related data items
  • Range of values
  • Data structure definition/Forms

The name of the data item is self-explanatory.

Aliases include other names by which this data item is called DEO for Data Entry Operator and DR for Deputy Registrar.

Description/purpose is a textual description of what the data item is used for or why it exists.

Related data items capture relationships between data items e.g., total_marks must always equal to internal_marks plus external_marks.

Range of values records all possible values, e.g. total marks must be positive and between 0 to 100.

Data structure Forms: Data flows capture the name of processes that generate or receive the data items. If the data item is primitive, then data structure form captures the physical structures of the data item. If the data is itself a data aggregate, then data structure form capture the composition of the data items in terms of other data items.

The mathematical operators used within the data dictionary are defined in the table:

Notations Meaning
x=a+b x includes of data elements a and b.
x=[a/b] x includes of either data elements a or b.
x=a x includes of optimal data elements a.
x=y[a] x includes of y or more occurrences of data element a
x=[a]z x includes of z or fewer occurrences of data element a
x=y[a]z x includes of some occurrences of data element a which are between y and z.
Data Dictionaries

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