OT question for people who do this for a living: What is a 'database'?

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OT question for people who do this for a living: What is a 'database'?

MIT 6.00 Intro Computer Science (OCW)
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I understand that it's a collection of stuff, but what form does it take? If I assign a dict with four-character keys, and use those characters to represent the location of objects (like 'anything starting with 0 is a name of the str type' for instance) is that a database?
I've googled and wikipedia-ed this to death, and I keep getting stuff about SQL, which I also don't really understand. Is SQL a program?
SQL is a language (Structured Query Language), its design to manage data following the relational database model. a database its just a collection of data, the structure and ways of manipulating it depends on the specific type of database you're working with, but the main point is storing and retrieving data, thats all..

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Is there a line anywhere between "this is a database" and "this is not a database"? For instance, is a dict a database? I'm not trying to be stupid. It's just that I'm having a hard time understanding which things do what. When I write code in Python, I understand that the Python interpreter reads the code and does what it says. What 'reads' SQL? is the thing that reads SQL a program?
Perhaps an easier question to answer is what a database is good for. The definition is as axl456 pointed out - a collection of data. The power of a database, is how it manages, collects and retrieves data, and how it can present that data to you in any form you wish.
>For instance, is a dict a database? Technically dicts are data types in python. But the way you use it could create a database. and thats not only with dicts, you could structure lists and tuples in a specific way, thus creating a database (actually tuples cant be used for that because they are immutable objects, but you catch the idea) the problem with using them (dicts and list) is that when the program ends, the data is lost, because the data was stored in memory, to solve that you can use the module "pickle" but thats other story.. >Is there a line anywhere between "this is a database" and "this is not a database"? I think that depends. You have to see it this way, databases are a set of data with a way of consulting that data (adding, retrieving, etc) It could be something as simple as a text file, that you use to add and retrieve data in a specific way, or more complex (and better) solutions as relational databases such as SQLite, MySQL, etc.
sorry I didn't answer everything.. >What 'reads' SQL? is the thing that reads SQL a program? SQL is a language, designed to manipulate data, following the relational database model. the things that "reads" them are DBMS (Database Management Systems). they basically are programs to create, maintain and manipulate databases..
Thanks! So a useful definition might be that a database is a file-based way of storing data so it won't get erased when its memory is deallocated in RAM? I know how to do that with a text file for instance. It seems like it will be useful for me to think of programs (they seem to be programs) like SQLite, etc as things that do basically the same things I could do with a text file if given enough time, but which have been designed by smart people to take care of the data retrieval stuff and given the features that 'relational' stands for.
>Thanks! So a useful definition might be that a database is a file-based way of storing data so it won't get erased when its memory is deallocated in RAM? mmm, well yeah you might think of it that way.. >I know how to do that with a text file for instance. It seems like it will be useful for me to think of programs (they seem to be programs) like SQLite, etc as things that do basically the same things I could do with a text file if given enough time, but which have been designed by smart people to take care of the data retrieval stuff and given the features that 'relational' stands for yes, and with python you could just import the module sqlite3 and create databases using the SQL language..
Cool. I really appreciate your help!
dont worry!. I'm glad I could help..

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