Encyclopedia of Database Systems

2018 Edition
| Editors: Ling Liu, M. Tamer Özsu

Hierarchical Data Model

  • Jean-Luc HainautEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-8265-9_189


IMS data model


The hierarchical data model is based on a view of the application domain (i.e., the world) as a hierarchical arrangement of concepts where some concepts exist on their own while the others depend on the former. According to this conceptual model, data are organized into records that are recursively composed of other records. Though this paradigm is fairly common in data structures, the term hierarchical model most generally refers to the IMS model, a proprietary DBMS developed by IBM from the 1960s that is still widely used.

The IMS model organizes data in tree structures of records augmented with additional links that compensate for the weaknesses of this base model. Data processing itself is hierarchical, starting from the root of a record tree then parsing the dependent records in depth-first, left-to-right, traversal order.

Historical Background

In 1966, IBM started the development of ICS (Information Control System), a data management software...

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Recommended Reading

  1. 1.
    Blackman K. IMS celebrates thirty years as an IBM product. IBM Syst J. 1998;37(4):596–603.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Elmasri R, Navathe S. Fundamentals of database systems. 3rd edn. Addison-Wesley; 2000. (The appendix on the hierarchical data model has been removed from later editions but is now available on the authors’ site).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Hainaut J-L. The transformational approach to database engineering. In: Lämmel R, Saraiva J, Visser J, editors. Generative and transformational techniques in software engineering. New York: Springer; 2006. p. 89–138.Google Scholar
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    Long R, Harrington M, Hain R, Nicholls G. IMS Primer – IBM Redbooks; 2000.Google Scholar
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    Meltz D, Long R, Harrington M, Hain R, Nichols G. An introduction to IMS. Armonk: IBM Press; 2005.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Tsichritzis D, Lochovsky F. Hierarchical data-base management: a survey. ACM Comput Surv (Spec Issue: Data-Base Manag Syst). 1976;8(1):105–24.zbMATHCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of NamurNamurBelgium

Section editors and affiliations

  • David W. Embley
    • 1
  1. 1.Brigham Young UniversityProvoUSA