Database Model


During a check on the Database Engines ranking just now, I found that this link is listing the available database management systems according to their popularity. The website updates monthly and you able to see the current ranking, previous month ranking, and the ranking one year ago.

The picture above shows the list of the top 10 database management systems. Another exciting part of the website is the list of the database model.

Relational DBMS

Relational database management systems (RDBMS) support the relational or table-oriented data model. The schema of a table or the defines by the table name, fixed number of columns (attributes) with fixed data types. A record corresponds to a row in the table (entity) and consists of the values of each column. A relation thus consists of a set of uniform records, according to the website.

The normalization in the process of data modeling generates table schemas. There are some operations used to define a relationship. For example,

  • classical set operations (union, intersection, and difference)
  • Selection (selection of a subset of records according to certain filter criteria for the attribute values)
  • Projection (selecting a subset of attributes/columns of the table)
  • Join: special conjunction of multiple tables as a combination of the Cartesian product with selection and projection.

Document Stores

Document stores, also called document-oriented database systems, are characterized by their schema-free organization of data. According to the website that means,

  • Records do not need to have a uniform structure, i.e. different records may have different columns.
  • The types of values of individual columns can be different for each record.
  • Columns can have more than one value (arrays).
  • Records can have a nested structure.

Document stores often use internal notations, which can be processed directly in applications, mostly JSON. JSON documents, of course, can also be stored as pure text in key-value stores or relational database systems.

Key-value Stores

Key-value stores are probably the simplest form of database management systems. They can only store pairs of keys and values, as well as retrieve values when a key is known.

These simple systems usually are not adequate for complex applications. On the other hand, it is exactly this simplicity that makes such systems attractive in certain circumstances. For example, resource-efficient key-value stores that apply in the embedded systems or as high performance in-process databases.

Advanced Forms

An extended form of key-value stores is able to sort the keys, and thus enables range queries as well as ordered processing of keys. Many systems provide further extensions so that we see a fairly seamless transition to document stores and wide column stores.

Search Engines

Search engines are NoSQL database management systems dedicated to the search for data content. In addition to general optimization for this type of application, the specialization consists of typically offering the following features:

  • Support for complex search expressions
  • Full text search
  • Stemming (reducing inflected words to their stem)
  • Ranking and grouping of search results
  • Geospatial search
  • Distributed search for high scalability

Wide Column Stores

As mentioned above, the wide column stores, also called extensible record stores, store data in records with an ability to hold huge numbers of dynamic columns. Since the column names, as well as the record keys, are not fixed, and since a record can have billions of columns, wide column stores see as two-dimensional key-value stores.

The wide column stores share the characteristic of being schema-free with document stores. However, the implementation is very different. The wide column stores must not be confused with the column-oriented storage in some relational systems. The wide column stores is an internal concept for improving the performance of an RDBMS for OLAP (Online Analytical Processing) workloads and stores the data of a table, not record after record but column by column.

Graph DBMS

Graph DBMS, also called graph-oriented DBMS or graph database, represent data in graph structures as nodes and edges, which are relationships between nodes. Graph DBMS allows easy processing of data in that form, and a simple calculation of specific properties of the graph, such as the number of steps needed to get from one node to another node. Graph DBMS usually does not provide indexes on all nodes, direct access to nodes based on attribute values is not possible in these cases.

Time Series DBMS

A Time Series DBMS is a database management system that optimizes handling time series data; for example, each entry associated with a timestamp.

Time Series DBMS is designed to efficiently collect, store, and query various time series with high transaction volumes. Although the management of the time series data can be the same as other categories of DBMS (from key-value stores to relational systems), the specific challenges often require specialized systems.

I hope the information extracted from the website is able to help us understand the differences between the database models.

References: https://db-engines.com/en/ranking

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