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ADO.NET Entity Framework abstracts the relational (logical) schema of the data that is stored in a database and presents its conceptual schema to the application. For example, in the database, entries about a customer and their information can be stored in the Customers table, their orders in the Orders table and their contact information in yet another Contacts table. For an application to deal with this database, it has to know which information is in which table, i.e., the relational schema of the data is hardcoded into the application.
The disadvantage of this approach is that if this schema is changed the application is not shielded from the change. Also, the application has to perform SQL joins to traverse the relationships of the data elements in order to find related data. For example, to find the orders of a certain customer, the customer needs to be selected from the Customers table, the Customers table needs to be joined with the Orders table, and the joined tables need to be queried for the orders that are linked to the customer.
This model of traversing relationships between items is very different from the model used in object-oriented programming languages, where the relationships of an object’s features are exposed as Properties of the object and accessing the property traverses the relationship. Also, using SQL queries expressed as strings, only to have it processed by the database, keeps the programming language from making any guarantees about the operation and from providing compile time type information.
The mapping of logical schema into the physical schema that defines how the data is structured and stored on the disk is the job of the database system and client side data access mechanisms are shielded from it as the database exposes the data in the way specified by its logical schema.
– source: Wikipedia