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What Is a Database?

A database may be defined as a collection of persistent data. The term persistent is somewhat vague, but is intended to imply that the data has a more-or-less independent existence or that it is semipermanent. For instance, data stored on paper in a filing cabinet, or stored magnetically on a hard disk, CD-ROM, or computer tape is persistent, whereas data stored in a computer’s memory is generally not considered to be persistent. (The term permanent is a bit too strong, since very little in life is truly permanent.)

Of course, this is a very general concept. Most real-life databases consist of data that exist for a specific purpose and are thus persistent.


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