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Attribute value pair

Attribute value pair definition

Attribute-value pair (AVP) refers to a fundamental representation in computing systems to express entities by describing their characteristics. As the name suggests, it consists of two elements: an attribute and a value.

An attribute, or a key, represents a certain characteristic or property of an entity, while the value, or the pair, represents the specific instance of that characteristic. For example, a database can store a person’s name and age such as (“Name”, “Alice”) and (“Age”, “30”). Here, “name” and “age” are attributes, and “Alice” and “30” are values.

See also: datafication, database report, data subject, data key

Where are attribute-value pairs used

  • Databases. It’s an easy way to structure data in a database. Each column in a table is an attribute, while the data stored in each row for that column is the value.
  • Configuration files. It’s often used in configuration files to set options for software applications. For example, in a line in a configuration file that reads “FontSize=14”, “FontSize” is the attribute and “14” is the value.
  • Communication protocols. In protocols such as RADIUS, they can encapsulate information in a standardized way. The attribute identifies the type of information being communicated (like user name, session ID, etc.), and the value is the specific piece of data.
  • Semantic web and metadata. They are used in expressing metadata for web content, where the attribute defines what aspect of the content is being described and the value provides the detail.