What Is a Data Model?

A data model is a great way to understand the structure of a system. It requires the acceptance of the concept of an “entity”.  A data model depicts the relationships between the entities that make up a “real world” system.  A data model differs from a mathematical model in that it neither requires mathematical provability nor must it be expressed in numbers and symbols as a mathematical model does.  A data model also differs from a process model in that it does not represent the dynamic changes in a system over time, it depicts the structure of a system, the way the parts of a system fit together.

A data model can be either a representation of the physical reality of a system or a non-physical representation. The latter is usually called either a “conceptual model” or a “logical model”.  Though both of these phrases mean something non-physical they are not completely interchangeable with one another.  A conceptual model is a model of ideas, while a logical model is a model of the semantic relationships between entities and requires a shared and agreed upon vocabulary for it to be useful. 

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