Encyclopedia of Database Systems

2009 Edition

Data Dictionary

  • James Caverlee
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-39940-9_903



A data dictionary catalogs the definitions of data elements, data types, data flows and other conventions that are used in an information system. Data dictionaries have been widely adopted by both (i) the database community, where a dictionary typically describes database entities, schemas, permissions, etc.; and (ii) the software development community, where a dictionary typically describes flows of information through the system. In essence, a data dictionary is a virtual database of metadata about an information system itself. A data dictionary may also be referred to as a “system catalog.”

Key Points

Understanding and managing an information system – both from a design and from an implementation point-of-view – requires some documentation of the schema, capabilities, constraints, and other descriptive features of the system. This documentation is typically embodied by a data dictionary – that is, a repository of information...

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Recommended Reading

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    Astrahan M. et al. (1979) System R: a relational data base management system. IEEE Comput. 12(5):42–48, 1979.Google Scholar
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    Demarco T. Structured Analysis and System Specification. Yourdon, 1978.Google Scholar
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    Elmasri R. and Navathe S. Fundamentals of database systems. Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA, 2000.Google Scholar
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    MySQL MySQL 5.0 Reference Manual, 2008.Google Scholar
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    Stonebraker M., Wong E., Kreps P., and Held G. The design and implementation of INGRES. ACM Trans. Database Syst., 1(3):189–222, 1976.Google Scholar
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    Yourdon E. Modern Structured Analysis. Yourdon, 1989.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • James Caverlee
    • 1
  1. 1.Texas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA