4 Key Components of a Data Processing System

There are four basic components in a computer based data processing system. They are Machines, programs, data and the people. These are termed in different ways like hardware and software. A computer program defines a process to be carried out on a machine. A program consists of a sequence of statements or commands written in some programming language. A procedure defines a process to be carried out by a person.

Until recently the focus has been largely on the machine and the programs it executes, perhaps explaining the popularity of the terms hardware and software. Both the computer industry and using organizations have worked hard to develop better programming techniques. High level programming languages have been developed to such a degree that today the definition of a process can be quite machine independent.

The problems of data: Today, programs and programming languages are closer to people and relatively independent of the machine, while data is closely tied to both programs and the machine and not close to the people who need it. Programs direct the movement and manipulation of data with in a computer system. Since the mid1950’s computer professionals has striven to develop programming languages independent of machines and geared to users. Yet they made relatively little efforts to do the same for data.

Only recently has there been a significant efforts towards developing machine independent, high level data languages. This effort ahs was partly fostered y the emergence of the microcomputer industry. Could the computer industry have focused on data first? Probably not . Effective computer use required an initial emphasis on programming and programming languages because with out program the computer does nothing. People in the computer industry are predicating data conversation problems more extensive than program conversation of the past.

Data is rapidly being converted to machine – process able forms, Moving to a new computer system now involves converting both program and large volume of data. As our investment in machine able data increases, the problem of data increases the cost of shifting to new machines and to new technology, and of incorporating new application systems. The technology development of data processing systems should eventually reconcile programs and data to serve people and meet their needs.

Desirable Relationships in a data processing system:

Programs and data are more independent of each other and both are independent of the machine and closer to the people. The industry is witnessing a shifting focus from the application programs and their data to a focus on data as a resource common to, yet existing apart from, several application processes. Data consists of symbols written or stored on some recording medium. The symbols represent certain things, ideas or values, which convey information in particular contexts. Data is the encoded representation of information. Information is derived from data and useful in solving problems.

A database management system has many uses:

- It enables users to access and manipulate the database.
- It provides a building block in constructing data processing systems for applications requiring database access, MIS or systems for accounting, production and inventory control or customer support.
- It helps the database administrator perform certain managerial duties.

Functions of Database Administration:

- Define, acquire and retire data according to the user needs.
- Provide tools to access and update the data and produce reports.
- Inform and assist users in planning and using data resources and database management tools.
- Maintain database integrity by protecting its existence, maintaining its quality and controlling access to private data.
- Monitor operations for efficient performance and integrity threats.

Data is a vital resource in an organization and must be managed. The organizational database is an essential component in management information system. Of the four components of a data processing system, attention to data has lagged behind the development of machines and programming technology. Taking a database approach requires an organization to focus on data as a valued resource.

Data is separate from programs and application systems which use it. Data is facts, figures, and values from which information is derived. A database management system is a computer based tool used to set up a database, make it available within an organization and control the integrity of those data resources. A comprehensive DBMS serves both programmers who develop application systems for end users and people who need ad hoc, interactive access to data resources without having to write a program.


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