Comparing Data Modelling Techniques

In the age of ‘Big Data’, one where we are drowning in information from corporations, media, the world wide web etc… there has to be a way to structure this data in the information age. Companies are beginning to recognize that semantics is very important for the systems to communicate with each other and also with people who run them. A data model is then a drawing which represents data or things and the relationships between them.

Relational databases:

A database is a collection of knowledge, which has been organised in some way so that it can be easily managed, accessed updated queried, retrieved etc…  A relational database then is an organised structure of data which is used to leverage relationships and connections between objects. When modelling this form of databases one tends to use a relational schema, and the query this using SQL. For example the figure below shows an example of this database

This technique of modelling data is favorable when a user wants to specify data and certain queries, a user can input exactly what they want and leave it up to the software to bring back results which describe the data and the relationships between them.

Example of an relational database model:


The RDF or the Resource Description:

The RDF or the Resource Description Framework on the other hand is another type of data model. This RDF model is used as a method for conceptual modelling of information that is implemented in web resources. This type of data model uses a vary of syntax notations and data serialization formats and is based upon the idea of making statements about resources in the form of subject-predicate-object expressions. By using this type of data model it opens up data on a global scale and essentially enables anybody to refer to anything. The difference between the RDF model and an object-orientated model would be its use of object, subject, predicate as opposed to an entity, attribute, value approach. This, though, enables software to more easily exchange information throughout the web which then in turn results in the user gathering and receiving data from these databases more easily with greater efficiency and certainty. This as mentioned can then be done on a global scale which opens up the possibility for more users to access this material.

Example of an RDF model

.RDF model


Miller, Eric.  Resource Description Framework (RDF) Model and Syntax. Accessed May 2017 

Pinczel, Balazs, Nagy, David, Kiss, Attila. ‘The Pros and Cons of RDF Structure Indexes’ Annales Univ. Sci. Budapest  Vol 42. 2014. Pp 283-296

Schreibman Susan, Siemens Ray, Unsworth, John. A Companion to Digital Humanities Oxford: Blackwell, 2004.

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