Multivalued Field


A multivalued field is a type of data field that can store more than one value in a single field in a database. Essentially, it allows multiple instances of data to be linked to a single point. This type of field is used to save space and avoid redundancy in the database.


The phonetics of the keyword “Multivalued Field” is: mul-tee-val-yoo-d feeld.

Key Takeaways

Sure, here you go:“`html

  1. Definition: A Multivalued Field is a field in a database that is capable of storing more than one value. This is a contrast to a traditional field in a relational database, where each field can contain only a single value.
  2. Complex Data Handling: They are especially useful in applications where the data to be represented is inherently multiple in nature, like a person’s skills or a product’s features. They allow a more robust representation of such complex data.
  3. Efficiency: While multivalued fields can be more complex to handle and may require additional processing and storage, they can also reduce redundancy and increase efficiency by enabling a more natural representation of certain types of data.



Multivalued Field is an important term in technology, specifically in the context of databases, because it allows the storage of more than one piece of equivalent data in a single field, facilitating efficient and flexible data management. This helps to handle the real-world use case of data variability and complexity with higher ease. For example, a multivalued field could be used for storing multiple phone numbers or addresses per a contact entry in a contact database. However, it’s worth noting that multivalued fields can result in increased complexity when implementing database relations, queries, and data retrieval operations. Hence, database designers need to balance the trade-off between flexibility and complexity.


A multivalued field represents a type of field in a database system that can contain more than one data item of relevance, diverging from the traditional concept where every field usually contains a single value. This kind of field proves to be irreplaceably useful in instances where a record needs to show multiple attributes of a similar nature. For instance, a car sales database might have a multivalued field for the color feature of a car; if a car comes in multiple colors, all those colors can be listed in this single field.The purpose of a multivalued field is to improve data integrity, efficiency, and suitability in the database system. It also assists in preventing data redundancy, which is a key concern in any database setup. This technology is commonly used in situations where an entity can have multiple attributes, therefore presenting a more accurate representation of real-world complexities and associations. In this way, the use of multivalued fields helps to reflect the uniqueness and specific relationships inherent in each individual component of the data, providing a more holistic and in-depth approach to data management.


Certainly, here are three real world examples of multivalued fields which are often used in databases:1. Skills of an Employee: In a human resources database, an “employee skills” section could be a multivalued field. An employee may possess multiple relevant skills for the job, such as “Project Management,” “Data Analysis,” “Web Design,” etc. Hence, you could list more than one value in this field.2. Contact Information: In a customer relationship management (CRM) system, the contact information might include multiple phone numbers or email addresses for one individual. For instance, one person can have a work phone, cell phone, and home phone. So, the “Phone Number” field can be considered a multivalued field.3. Courses Taken by a Student: In an educational institution’s database, the courses taken by each student may be considered a multivalued field. A student may be enrolled in multiple courses like “Mathematics,” “Physics,” and “Chemistry” at the same time. Thus, the field for “Courses” could have multiple values.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

**Q: What is a Multivalued Field?** A: A multivalued field is a type of database field that can hold more than one data item. It is often used in relational databases to store multiple values of relevant data within a single field of a given record.**Q: Is it okay to use Multivalued Fields all the time?**A: Not always. Multivalued fields can sometimes violate the rules of data normalization. They are typically used when the database design requires a single field to contain multiple, but related, amounts of information.**Q: Are there any drawbacks to using Multivalued Fields?**A: Yes, a significant drawback of using multivalued fields is their complexity. They may not be supported by all database management systems and can complicate the process of querying and reporting. Also, not maintaining them properly can lead to redundancy and inconsistency.**Q: How do Multivalued Fields affect database normalization?**A: Multivalued fields break the first normal form (1NF) of database normalization, as it requires that each column of a database table hold an atomic (single) value, and not sets of values. This issue can potentially lead to numerous data anomalies.**Q: Can you give an example of a Multivalued Field?** A: Sure, imagine a ‘Student’ database where one of the fields is ‘Courses’. If a student can take multiple courses, you can store all the courses that the student is taking in the ‘Courses’ field. In this case, ‘Courses’ becomes a multivalued field.**Q: How do I handle Multivalued Fields in SQL?**A: SQL does not offer a direct way to handle multivalued fields. They are commonly addressed through a process called normalization, which involves splitting the multiple values into separate records in a related table. This process allows you to retain the multiple values associated with a single record while adhering to SQL’s single-value-per-field requirement.**Q: How does a Multivalued Field differ from a Composite Key?**A: A multivalued field is a single database field that can hold more than one data item. A composite key, on the other hand, is a set of more than one key that, together, uniquely identify a record.

Related Tech Terms

  • Relational Database
  • Data Normalization
  • Single-value Attribute
  • Entity-Relationship Model
  • Structured Query Language (SQL)

Sources for More Information


About The Authors

The DevX Technology Glossary is reviewed by technology experts and writers from our community. Terms and definitions continue to go under updates to stay relevant and up-to-date. These experts help us maintain the almost 10,000+ technology terms on DevX. Our reviewers have a strong technical background in software development, engineering, and startup businesses. They are experts with real-world experience working in the tech industry and academia.

See our full expert review panel.

These experts include:


About Our Editorial Process

At DevX, we’re dedicated to tech entrepreneurship. Our team closely follows industry shifts, new products, AI breakthroughs, technology trends, and funding announcements. Articles undergo thorough editing to ensure accuracy and clarity, reflecting DevX’s style and supporting entrepreneurs in the tech sphere.

See our full editorial policy.

More Technology Terms

Technology Glossary

Table of Contents