Hierarchical Network vs Relational Model: Difference and Comparison

Key Takeaways

  1. Hierarchical networks are a type of data structure used in computer science and information organization.
  2. The relational method is a fundamental concept in the field of database management.
  3. Data is structured in a tree-like hierarchy with parent-child relationships in a hierarchical network. In contrast, in a relational model, data is organized in tables consisting of rows and columns, with no inherent hierarchical structure.

What is a Hierarchical Network?

Hierarchical networks are a type of data structure used in computer science and information organization. They are structured hierarchically or tree-like, where data elements are organized into levels of parent and child nodes.

One of the critical advantages of hierarchical networks is their simplicity and ease of navigation. They are well-suited scenarios where data has a clear and fixed hierarchical order. However, they have limitations when dealing with more complex relationships. For instance- representing many-to-many relationships or handling data with multiple possible paths can be challenging in a hierarchical structure.

In a hierarchical network, the top-level mode is called the root, and it serves as the starting point for the hierarchy. Each node can have multiple child notes, but typically, each child node has only one parent.

What is the Relational Model?

The relational model is a fundamental concept in the field of database management. It provides a way to organize and manage structured data in tables or relations. Each relation consists of rows and columns.

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In the relational model, data is organized into tables with well-defined schemas. Each table represents a specific entity or concept, and the table’s columns define that entity’s attributes or properties. For example, a library database might have tables for books, authors and borrowers, each with their own set of attributes.

One significant advantage of the relational model is its flexibility in handling complex relationships and ad-hoc queries. It supports various types of joins and provides a structured way to ensure data integrity through constraints.

Difference Between Hierarchical Network and Relational Model

  1. Data is structured in a tree-like hierarchy with parent-child relationships in a hierarchical network. In contrast, in a relational model, data is organized in tables consisting of rows and columns, with no inherent hierarchical structure.
  2. A hierarchical network follows a one-to-many relationship between parent and child nodes, while a relational model supports many-to-many relationships through keys and joins.
  3. A hierarchical network has limited flexibility and is suitable for data with fixed hierarchical relationships. At the same time, a relational model is highly flexible and can handle a wide range of data structures and relationships.
  4. A hierarchical network ensures data integrity primarily through the hierarchical structure, while a relational model provides robust data integrity through constraints of primary and foreign keys.
  5. A hierarchical network is ideal for representing data with clear hierarchies, such as file systems, organizational structures and family trees. At the same time, a relational model is widely used for diverse applications, including business databases, inventory management and data analytics.

Comparison Between Hierarchical Network and Relational Model

ParametersHierarchical NetworkRelational Model
Data StructureStructured in a tree-like hierarchy with parent-child relationshipOrganized in consisting of rows and columns, with no hierarchical structure
RelationshipsOne-to-many relationshipMany-to-many relationships through keys and joins
FlexibilityLimited flexibility  and suitable for data with a hierarchical structureHighly flexible and can handle a wide range of data structures and relationships
Data IntegrityThrough hierarchical structureThrough constraints, primary keys and foreign keys
Use CasesRepresenting data with clear hierarchies, such as file systems, organizational structureThey are widely used for diverse applications, including business database inventory management.
References
  1. https://projecteuclid.org/journals/annals-of-applied-statistics/volume-4/issue-1/Hierarchical-relational-models-for-document/10.1214/09-AOAS309.short
  2. https://psycnet.apa.org/journals/psp/80/4/613/
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Last Updated : 07 March, 2024

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