data structures versus data bases???

Paul Boddie paul at
Wed Nov 14 17:19:13 CET 2001

husam <h.jehadalwan at> wrote in message news:<3BF1163C.9000502 at>...
> ok, now it's clear.
> thank you all for your contributions.

But we wanted the half hour argument! ;-)

I'd distinguish between databases and data structures as follows:

A database is a collection of information stored in a structured
fashion, possibly along with a description of how elements of that
information are related to each other (although that description is
really the database meta-data). An example of a database would be
"software packages registered at The Vaults of Parnassus".

A data structure is a mechanism for storing information. It dictates
the interface which lets you add, search for, investigate or remove
items of information from the structure. Examples of a data structure
are dictionaries, lists, stacks, trees and so on.

One might start to argue whether or not a relational database
management system (RDBMS) such as Oracle, PostgreSQL, etc. is an
implementation of a data structure. Therefore, one could add the
following definition:

A database (management) system is a system which implements data
structures to store information, typically restricting access to those
data structures by providing an abstract interface to the information.

Therefore, one could regard a database system as being something which
potentially implements a number of data structures (in the case of an
RDBMS, we could consider a "table" as a data structure) with each of
these potentially incorporating other data structures (for an RDBMS
table, this might well involve various kinds of tree data structures).

Of course, this is a vague discussion of the nomenclature, and out
there on the Internet, there's probably somewhere which lists the
"official" definitions from the "gods of Computer Science and database


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