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. (December 2009)
A table is a collection of related data held in a structured format within a database. It consists of columns, and rows.
In relational databases, and flat file databases, a table is a set of data elements (values) using a model of vertical columns (identifiable by name) and horizontal rows, the cell being the unit where a row and column intersect. A table has a specified number of columns, but can have any number of rows. Each row is identified by one or more values appearing in a particular column subset. A specific choice of columns which uniquely identify rows is called the primary key.
"Table" is another term for "relation"; although there is the difference in that a table is usually a multiset (bag) of rows where a relation is a set and does not allow duplicates. Besides the actual data rows, tables generally have associated with them some metadata, such as constraints on the table or on the values within particular columns.
The data in a table does not have to be physically stored in the database. Views also function as relational tables, but their data are calculated at query time. External tables (in Informix or Oracle, for example) can also be thought of as views.