relational database management system
(RDBMS - relational database management system) A database based on the relational model developed by E.F. Codd. A relational database allows the definition of data structures, storage and retrieval operations and integrity constraints. In such a database the data and relations between them are organised in tables. A table is a collection of rows or records and each row in a table contains the same fields. Certain fields may be designated as keys, which means that searches for specific values of that field will use indexing to speed them up.
Where fields in two different tables take values from the same set, a join operation can be performed to select related records in the two tables by matching values in those fields. Often, but not always, the fields will have the same name in both tables. For example, an "orders" table might contain (customer_id, product_code) pairs and a "products" table might contain (product_code, price) pairs so to calculate a given customer's bill you would sum the prices of all products ordered by that customer by joining on the product-code fields of the two tables. This can be extended to joining multiple tables on multiple fields. Because these relationships are only specified at retreival time, relational databases are classed as dynamic database management system.
The first commercial RDBMS was the Multics Relational Data Store, first sold in 1978.