The concept of representation capability of databases and its application in IS development

Lishuan Qin, Junkang Feng

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The representation capability of an information system in general and a database in particular seems an important and yet elusive concept, which is concerned with, in our view, how a database ever becomes capable of representing
real-world objects accurately or otherwise. To explore how to approach and then define this concept, we explore what is meant by that a database connection (i.e., a connection between database constructs such as entities in an Entity-relationship (ER) diagram and relations in a relational schema that are made
available by a database) refers to, represents and accurately represents a real-world relation respectively. We also find that that the information content of the former includes the latter is a sufficient and necessary condition for the former to be able to accurately represent the latter. All these make the concept of
representation capability of a database approachable and definable. Our theoretical work draws on semiotics, the semantic theory of information presented by Dretske and the information channel theory by Barwise and Seligman, and our practical work involves an information system’s development.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of International Technology and Information Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 13 Nov 2020


  • representation capability
  • database modelling
  • database theory
  • information content
  • information systems


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