Oracle uses the term "Data Dictionary" for its system catalogs. Each Oracle database has its
own set of system tables and views that store information about both the physical and logical
database structure. The data dictionary objects are read-only, meaning that no database
user ever manually modifies them; however, Oracle RDBMS itself automatically updates
data in these objects in response to specific actions. For example, when userACME creates
a new object (table, view, stored procedure, etc.), adds a column or a constraint to a table,
and so forth, the appropriate data dictionary tables are updated behind the scenes at once,
and the corresponding changes are visible through the system views (discussed later in this
Oracle's data dictionary consists of hundreds of different views and tables that logically
belong to different categories, but most of them are only of interest to the database
administrators and are beyond the scope of this book. We list only the main object groups in
the information schema and briefly describe the most common objects in each category.
The base tables contain all database information that is dynamically updated by Oracle
RDBMS. Oracle strictly discourages using those tables even for selects; the database users
normally have no access to them, and even DBAs do not typically query these tables
directly. The information stored in the base tables is cryptic and difficult to understand.
The user-accessible views summarize and display the information stored in the base tables;
they display the information from the base tables in readable and/or simplified form using
joins, column aliases, and so on. Different Oracle users can haveSELECT privileges on
different database views.
The data dictionary views, in turn, consist of static and dynamic views. The name "static"
denotes that the information in this group of views only changes when a change is made to
the data dictionary (a column is added to a table, a new database user is created, etc.). The
dynamic views are constantly updated while a database is in use; their contents relate
primarily to performance and are not relevant to this book.
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