SQL (Structured Query Language) is a domain-specific language used in programming and designed for managing data held in a relational database management system (RDBMS), or for stream processing in a relational data stream management system (RDSMS).
It is particularly useful in handling structured data where there are relations between different entities/variables of the data. SQL offers two main advantages over older read/write APIs like ISAM or VSAM. First, it introduced the concept of accessing many records with one single command; and second, it eliminates the need to specify how to reach a record, e.g. with or without an index.
Originally based upon relational algebra and tuple relational calculus, SQL consists of many types of statements, which may be informally classed as sublanguages, commonly: a data query language (DQL), a data definition language (DDL), a data control language (DCL), and a data manipulation language (DML).
The scope of SQL includes data query, data manipulation (insert, update and delete), data definition (schema creation and modification), and data access control. Although SQL is often described as, and to a great extent is, a declarative language (4GL), it also includes procedural elements.