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Chapter 3. The Table—The Heart of Any Da... > Fields—The Building Blocks of Tables

Fields—The Building Blocks of Tables

If the table is the heart of a database, then it might be said that the field is the heart of a table. A record is simply a collection of fields. Yet, if you search the Internet for a definition of a field, you’d be hard pressed to find one that adequately describes what a field is, much less what a field does. Some say that a field is the smallest database unit, but this is hardly descriptive. On the other hand, the fact that the field is so small when compared to the magnitude of today’s databases gives one cause to reflect.

The cell is the smallest organic unit in the human body, yet scientists are just beginning to understand the significance of the cell in terms of diagnosing and treating a broad spectrum of human diseases. Similarly, the field is crucial to the health of a database. A field is simply a category, or a grouping of common values. You would not put a city in a state field, nor would you place a last name in a first name field. These categories must be meticulously maintained for accuracy.


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