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Chapter 11. Databases > What Is a Database Program?

What Is a Database Program?

Generically speaking, a database organizes information by dividing it up into small, discrete pieces called fields. An address book might consist of name, address, and phone-number fields; a checkbook might include check number, payee, description, and amount fields. A computer can use these fields to sift quickly through huge amounts of data—to help you find a particular name or check number or to arrange a client list by ZIP code, for example.

A database arranges fields into records. A record consists of the complete collection of fields for one person, item, or entity in the database. For example, in an address-book database, each person or company has a separate record. Thus, when you want to enter address information for Sarah Johnson, you create a new record for her and fill in the name, address, and phone-number fields with her information. Later, if you need to know Sarah's phone number or mailing address, you simply search for and display her record. All of Sarah's address data is collected in one place—her record.


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