The present invention is directed to a database and database management system and method designed to store and manipulate any type of data and any combination of data types. The underlying data architecture is uniquely flexible, and thus to the DBMS, the data in the database will appear to be of a type consistent with the access method of the DBMS. Further, the present invention allows a number of simultaneous, different access methods to the same underlying data, delivering the ability to work with complex data within one easily managed system. One of the key aspects of the present invention is the 'atomization' of the data. Atomization is the separation of the storage of data content from its definition, as well as from its occurrences or instances in the database. An atom is the most basic element in the database. Data content is stored in content atoms, data definitions are stored in type atoms, and each instance of the same data value/property is represented by instance atoms. When connected, the three different atom types form a molecule. Complex data may be represented in the database by linking together instance atoms from several molecules to form inner relations, and then by further linking together inner relations to form outer relations.