Database technology is the heart and soul of business decision-making—and understanding the terminology is critical to storing, retrieving, and analyzing the information that fuels those decisions. This week’s Jargon Watch will help you get a handle on some common database terms.
Click here for our last Jargon Watch, which reviewed OLAP terms.
Data mining
Data mining is the process of digging through a data warehouse looking for meaningful data. This allows you to identify previously undetected relationships between data items. You can do this manually or with software (such as OLAP) designed to analyze the data automatically. You could be looking for associations between events, sequences of events that lead to later events, patterns to help with forecasting future customer activity, and information not previously known.

Data type
A data type is the classification that determines the kind of data you can enter into a field (such as date, number, character, and so on) within a database management program.

Data retrieval
Data retrieval refers to an operation that retrieves data from the database according to criteria you specified in a query.

A query is a search question that specifies criteria to use for sorting data so that you can narrow your search to the particular information you need.

Query language
Query language is a special database management language for editing data, specifying what information is to be retrieved, and how to display it.

Data record
A data record (also known as row) is a complete unit of related data items that comes from named data fields. The data record contains all the information related to the item the database is tracking and displays it either as a data-entry form or a data table.

Metadata is data about data. “Meta” means “underlying definition.” Therefore, metadata is the definition of the data or a description of how to display it, such as holding decimal places or displaying several dimensions in graphs and tables. Metadata is also the name of the tag that describes the content of a Web page.

Because Extensible Markup Language (XML) describes how to define a collection of data, it is sometimes called metadata as well.

An object is a self-contained program module of data as well as the procedures associated with processing it. It can be text or graphics
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