Hierarchical Database: Model & Definition

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Hierarchical Database vs. Relational Database

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:04 What Is a Hierarchical…
  • 0:41 Uses
  • 1:06 How a Hierarchical…
  • 2:21 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kaitlin Oglesby

Kaitlin has a BA in political science and extensive experience working in the business world as Director of Marketing and Business Development at a financial advice firm.

How do you efficiently organize data that is dependent on both the data above it and below it? You'd need a hierarchical database to establish these 'parent-child' relationships, and that's what we'll be learning in this lesson.

What is a Hierarchical Database?

As you probably know, there are a number of different kinds of database structures in existence. One of the most common is a hierarchical database. A hierarchical database uses different levels of data that follow a pattern that resembles a hierarchy. In other words, you start at one table, and depending on the record that you query, you gain access to other tables of information. However, those tables are only linked to either the table above them or the table below them. This makes them incredibly useful for gathering information that follows a specific order, or dare I say, hierarchy. Let's take a look at some uses of hierarchical databases, as well as see how one would work in the real world.

Hierarchical Databases: Uses

Hierarchical databases are useful when two conditions are met. Firstly, the data has to follow a hierarchical pattern. This means that there have to be relationships between the data that could have it visually 'stacked.' Think of a family tree and you're getting the idea. Sometimes you'll see this called a parent-child relationship, even though people are not always the sources of the data. Second, the data that is being stacked should only be accessible through a single path.

How a Hierarchal Database Works

To best understand how a hierarchical database works, let's take a look at an example. Many colleges and universities like to store information about their classes online. Obviously, it would be impractical to go through every class anytime someone wants to find out the course description or the syllabus for a specific module. Instead, hierarchical databases are used. Here's how it looks.

First, the original table allows users to select different schools within the university. There may be specific tables for the undergraduate college plus, for example, the law school or the medical school. Each college or school at the university is an entry in this first database.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account
Support