DBMS Languages

Data Definition Language (DDL)

Once the design of a database is completed and a DBMS is chosen to implement the database, the first step is to specify conceptual and internal schemas for the database and any mappings between the two. In many DBMSs where no strict separation of levels is maintained, one language, called the data definition language (DDL), is used by the DBA and by database designers to define both schemas. The DBMS will have a DDL compiler whose function is to process DDL statements in order to identify descriptions of the schema constructs and to store the schema description in the DBMS catalog. 

storage definition language (SDL),

In DBMSs where a clear separation is maintained between the conceptual and internal levels, the DDL is used to specify the conceptual schema only. Another language, the storage definition language (SDL), is used to specify the internal schema. The mappings between the two schemas may be specified in either one of these languages. In most relational DBMSs today, there is no specific language that performs the role of SDL. Instead, the internal schema is specified by a combination of functions, parameters, and specifications related to storage. These permit the DBA staff to control indexing choices and mapping of data to storage. For a true three-schema architecture,

view definition language (VDL),

the view definition language (VDL), to specify user views and their mappings to the conceptual schema, but in most DBMSs the DDL is used to define both conceptual and external schemas. In relational DBMSs, SQL is used in the role of VDL to define user or application views as results of predefined queries

data manipulation language (DML)

Once the database schemas are compiled and the database is populated with data, users must have some means to manipulate the database. Typical manipulations include retrieval, insertion, deletion, and modification of the data. The DBMS pro-vides a set of operations or a language called the data manipulation language (DML) for these purposes.

In current DBMSs, the preceding types of languages are usually not considered distinct languages; rather, a comprehensive integrated language is used that includes constructs for conceptual schema definition, view definition, and data manipulation. Storage definition is typically kept separate, since it is used for defining physical storage structures to fine-tune the performance of the database system, which is usually done by the DBA staff. A typical example of a comprehensive database language is the SQL relational database language, which represents a combination of DDL, VDL, and DML, as well as statements for constraint specification, schema evolution, and other features. The SDL was a component in early versions of SQL but has been removed from the language to keep it at the conceptual and external levels only.

There are two main types of DMLs. A high-level or nonprocedural DML can be used on its own to specify complex database operations concisely. Many DBMSs allow high-level DML statements either to be entered interactively from a display monitor or terminal or to be embedded in a general-purpose programming language. In the latter case, DML statements must be identified within the program so that they can be extracted by a precompiler and processed by the DBMS. A low-level or procedural DML must be embedded in a general-purpose programming language. This type of DML typically retrieves individual records or objects from the database and processes each separately. Therefore, it needs to use programming language constructs, such as looping, to retrieve and process each record from a set of records. Low-level DMLs are also called record-at-a-time DMLs because of this property. DL/1, a DML designed for the hierarchical model, is a low-level DML that uses commands such as GET UNIQUE, GET NEXT, or GET NEXT WITHIN PARENT to navigate from record to record within a hierarchy of records in the database. High-level DMLs, such as SQL, can specify and retrieve many records in a single DML statement; therefore, they are called set-at-a-time or set oriented DMLs. A query in a high-level DML often specifies which data to retrieve rather than how to retrieve it; therefore, such languages are also called declarative

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