Databases

Prior to this class, my main exposure to “databases” was through Microsoft Access in high school, where we practiced fake scenarios of managing business accounts and work orders in a virtual index card system. I originally thought these were going to be similar processes. I see now that I was incorrect.  I used to picture databases as the collection of virtual index cards that were indexed and searchable to provide specific entries, but now I understand databases are more accurately the muscles of websites, the collection of materials and information that reside on the bones provided by coded frameworks.

I was not as quick as some of my amazing peers, and most of my exploration just involved going deeper into the structures in my Phpadmin experience and trying to figure out what exactly everything was and what it’s purpose was. Considering all the data that was contained, I now understand why a database breach is one of the most serious lapses in cyber security. I also noticed that while there was a section for user accounts, I couldn’t find any way to see the associated passwords – making me wonder if the passwords are stored database side, or if the user accounts in my database are actually linked into a larger database that stores such passwords.

The databases we have to experiment with seem relatively small and straightforward.  Perhaps this is a little meta, but I can’t imagine having a databse as large as Facebook’s and trying to manage/organize all that data – let alone try and search it. I read an interesting article lately about how large websites with advanced features such as facial recognition are using neural networks to store this information. I don’t 100% understand the science, but it seems to me like neural networks resemble databases in the ways they store and link information, but in a much more advanced manner. I wonder if they were built on database technology.

Comparing spreadsheets and databases, I can immediately see how the efficiency of a relational database outpaces a spreadsheet, especially for exceptionally large websites with user created content. However, I think human brains have a difficult time picturing relational databases and that spreadsheets still represent an element of useful user interface, besides their own traditional applications.

 

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