INFO: What is a Relational Database

A relational database combines data by using common or selected characteristics found in a collection of tables. Primarily used with manufacturer, merchandise, medical, or monetary data, this type of database can be used anywhere that data needs to be sorted or compared to in an easy view.  These tables contain records with fields, and these fields can have a number of different data in them. The most common is dates, characters, numeric fields and values.

A character field would for example be a person’s name, or street address, which has numbers and letters. A numeric field would a zip code or phone number, a date field would a person’s birthday, and value field would marital status or any other field that could be answered with a Yes/No selection.

Examples of searches for relational database could be a search for anyone that lived at a particular address. A search of all students that have ever had any classes with a certain instructor through different universities and time frame.

One of the most commonly seen forms of relational database outside of the computer industry is a bookstore. Books are organized by types of books: art, cooking, mystery, self-help, etc. They do not organize them by author, or titles, or by release date, however if all the books are entered into a database, any user could compile a list by searching these fields.