Glossary/Data Storage and Processing/
Relational Database Management Systems

What is rdbms?

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What is the meaning of Relational database management systems?

Relational database management systems or RDBMS are the most common type of database management system. They allow you to handle data safely and efficiently by dividing it into separate tables and allowing you to manipulate each table individually. They also make it easy to identify relationships between the different elements, and join them for analysis.

What is a Relational Database Management System?

A relational database management system is an application that can create, update, delete and retrieve relational data from a relational database. It provides high performance on large databases by organizing data so users can quickly access information they need.

Are RDBMSs are still widely used today?

If you want to learn about web development, odds are that you’ve heard of SQL, or structured query language. SQL is a special-purpose programming language designed for managing data held in a relational database management system (RDBMS) or stream processing in a relational data stream management system (RDSMS). A few examples of RDBMSs include MySQL, Oracle Database, and SQL Server.

So now that you know what an RDBMS is, why should you care? Well, because they’re still widely used today in web services across all technology stacks. Some examples of where developers use these databases include databases for application records, websites and other applications.

What's the difference to pre-relational databases?

An RDBMS handles specific types of data, such as employee names, product codes and order dates. Each of these data elements is stored in a column, while each row represents a complete record of this information. In contrast to pre-relational databases (or flat file databases), which record data in simple rows and columns, relational databases organise and sort their data using tables that can be linked together using a field common to each table.

RDBMSs have been the staple of the software industry since the early 1970s and have dominated ever since. The most famous RDBMS is Oracle, used by some of the world's largest companies including Dell, Boeing and Exxon Mobil; other examples include IBM's DB2, Microsoft's SQL Server database, MySQL from Oracle-owned Sun Microsystems and Sybase ASE from Sybase Inc.

What is the link between the tables?

The link between the tables is known as a relationship.

When data is inserted into the two tables, the relationship is defined.

This relationship allows querying of data against the two tables, and minimises redundant storage of data.  This can be done by creating primary key and foreign key relationships in a relational database management system (RDBMS) (there are other keys and constraints that can be applied, but we won’t discuss those here).

How are relationships defined in data?

A relational database is a collection of data items that is organised in terms of tables (or relations) and columns (attributes). The relationships between these tables are defined using primary and foreign keys, which provide links between the various tables. These relationships are defined when data is inserted into individual tables of a relational database, thus maximising query power while minimising redundant data storage. These relationships can be defined when the schema is created or even when the data is queried.


In an RDBMS, you’ll find data stored in tables that can be related by a common field. For instance, you might have a table called “classrooms” and another table called “teachers”. The two tables are linked via a common field “room_code”: one room_code for each classroom and one room_code for each teacher. This is an example of what's called a 1:1 relationship—each classroom has only one teacher, and vice versa. You could also have a 1:many relationship—for instance, the “classrooms” table can contain many students listed in the “student” table if the two tables are linked by the "grade" column (8th grade could appear multiple times).

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