Data Types in Scientific Data Management
Data sorts; Many sorted algebra; Type theory
In mathematics, logic and computer science, the term “type” has a formal connotation. By assigning a variable to a type in a programming language, one implicitly defines constraints on the domains and operations on the variable. The term “data type” as used in data management derives from the same basic idea. A data type is a specification that concretely defines the “structure” of a data variable of that type, the operations that can be performed on that variable, and any constraints that might apply to them. For example, a “tuple” is a data type defined as a finite sequence (i.e., an ordered list) of objects, each of a specified type; it allows operations like “projection” popularly used in relational algebra.
In science, the term “data type” is sometimes used less formally to refer to a kind of scientific data. For example, one would say “gene expression” or “4D surface mesh of a beating heart” is a data type.
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