Need for different levels in the database management system, and what role do these levels play for a successful database design

A database is a collection of related data that have implicit meaning. Database represents some aspect of the real world, they contain logically coherent data, and they are designed, built, populated for a specific purpose. The DBMS architecture is a three-schema architecture, which was proposed to achieve program data independence, support for multiple views, and use of catalog to store the database description schema.

The three-schema architecture is a convenient tool for the user to visualize the schema levels in a database system. Most of the DBMS’s do not separate the three levels completely, but support three-schema architecture. The three schemas are, only the description of data the only data that exists in the physical level. What is a schema? The description of database is called database schema, which is specified during database design and it is not expected to change frequently. A displayed schema is called a schema diagram and each object in the schema is called schema construct.

In this DBMS architecture, schemas can de defined in three levels:

1. Internal level.
2. Conceptual level.
3. External level.

The internal level has an internal schema, which describes the physical storage structure of the database. The internal schema uses physical data model, which describes the complete details of data storage, access paths for the database, and how the data’s are retrieved or inserted in the database. A data model is a collection of conceptual tools for describing the data, data relationship, data semantics and consistency constraints.

The conceptual level has a conceptual schema that describes the whole database for different users who access the database. The conceptual schema hides the details of the physical storage structures and concentrates basically on entities, relationships, and constraints. The external or view level includes a number of user views. Each external schema describes the part of the database that a particular user group is interested in and hides the rest of the database from other user groups. Implementation data model is used at this level. Each user group will refer to its own external schema. Hence the DBMS should be capable of transforming the request specified in the external schema into request against the conceptual schema. The process of transforming requests and results between levels are called mappings.


The three-schema architecture explains the concept of data independence, which is defined as the capacity to the change the schemas at one level of the database system without having to change the schema at next higher level. The three-schema architecture makes it easier to achieve true data independence. There are two types of data independence, Logical data independence is the capacity to change the conceptual schema without having to change the external schemas or application programs. Only the view definition and the mappings need to be changed in the DBMS that supports logical data independence. Physical data independence is the capacity to change the internal schema without having to change the external schemas.


Data independence is accomplished because, when the schema is changed at one level the schema at the next higher-level remains unchanged only the mapping between the two levels is changed. View is also called as “Virtual table” because view does not contain physically stored records and will not occupy any space. A multi-user database whose users have variety of applications must provide facilities for defining multiple views. This three-schema helps us to provide data security of data’s among different users accessing the database, ensures data integrity and avoid duplication of data’s in the database. It helps us to establish and maintain relationship among the data’s in the database.

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