Toward a Philosophy of Data for Database Systems Design

Sabah Al-Fedaghi
2016 International Journal of Database Theory and Application  
Data provide the inputs to systems used to understand, explain, manage, regulate, and predict the world in which we live. A basic question in studying data is, What are data? What are and are not data, and how do data become information? Exploring a conception of data is fundamentally a philosophical problem and also an important issue in the area of database design. A firm understanding of the nature of the data being modeled enhances the process of modeling reality, and it helps in
more » ... g a mental map of the computerized domain. This paper proposes a basic definition of data as interpreted things that flow. This definition is used in building structured data (e.g., tuples, tables) that form the foundation of database systems. The notion of things that flow is a concept based on a flow-based modeling language established on machines (extension of the input-processoutput model) that create, process, release, transfer, and receive these things that flow. The study uses the proposed basic definition of data to build structured data, hence, applying the definition in constructing a data-based description of particular aspects of database systems. 48 Copyright ⓒ 2016 SERSC based diagrammatic language that depicts the movement of things in terms of creation, release, transfer, receipt, and processing. This definition is employed to build structured data and also descriptions of particular aspects of database systems. The results point to a potential data foundation for systems based on data, information, and knowledge. The methodology adopted in this research is diagrammatic modeling of the concept of data as things that flow in a machine, a term used here to refer to a schema that extends the classical input-process-output model. In information engineering, -diagrams are the best way to communicate a methodology‖ ([7], referring to [8]). Diagrams are easier to understand and a semi-formalized way of specifying the system under development [7] . Diagrams can represent entities, activities, and causal relationships between these entities and activities [9] . Nevertheless, it seems that the entire approach adopted here could be stated in a mathematical language that formally defines the involved diagram, its types of things that flow, and the utilized structure. Such a project could be developed in the future, after the methodology and diagrams are explored and subjected to public scrutiny. The paper will progress in the following way:  Section 2 is a glimpse into the current status of the question, What are data? as it summarizes a recent exploration of this question in the literature.  Section 3 presents a brief description of the diagrammatic modeling language to be used in conceptualizing data differently from the approaches described in Section 2.  Section 4 provides examples of the diagrammatic modeling language reviewed in Section 3. It also sets these examples in a philosophical context in a discussion of sense-data; thus, the orientation of the paper includes a philosophical view of the nature of data.  Section 5 applies the diagrammatic modeling language to some recent definitions of data. It also lays the groundwork for Section 6.  Section 6 defines the concept of data and applies the definition to some relational database structures.  Section 7 refines the definition of data given in Section 6.
doi:10.14257/ijdta.2016.9.10.05 fatcat:36jgpwlqpfcffgxwo6xan72kei