Conceptual Modeling Solutions for the Data Warehouse

Conceptual Modeling Solutions for the Data Warehouse

Stefano Rizzi (DEIS-University of Bologna, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-232-9.ch002
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In the context of data warehouse design, a basic role is played by conceptual modeling, that provides a higher level of abstraction in describing the warehousing process and architecture in all its aspects, aimed at achieving independence of implementation issues. This chapter focuses on a conceptual model called the DFM that suits the variety of modeling situations that may be encountered in real projects of small to large complexity. The aim of the chapter is to propose a comprehensive set of solutions for conceptual modeling according to the DFM and to give the designer a practical guide for applying them in the context of a design methodology. Besides the basic concepts of multidimensional modeling, the other issues discussed are descriptive and cross-dimension attributes; convergences; shared, incomplete, recursive, and dynamic hierarchies; multiple and optional arcs; and additivity.
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Operational databases are focused on recording transactions, thus they are prevalently characterized by an OLTP (online transaction processing) workload. Conversely, data warehouses (DWs) allow complex analysis of data aimed at decision support; the workload they support has completely different characteristics, and is widely known as OLAP (online analytical processing). Traditionally, OLAP applications are based on multidimensional modeling that intuitively represents data under the metaphor of a cube whose cells correspond to events that occurred in the business domain (Figure 1). Each event is quantified by a set of measures; each edge of the cube corresponds to a relevant dimension for analysis, typically associated to a hierarchy of attributes that further describe it. The multidimensional model has a twofold benefit. On the one hand, it is close to the way of thinking of data analyzers, who are used to the spreadsheet metaphor; therefore it helps users understand data. On the other hand, it supports performance improvement as its simple structure allows designers to predict the user intentions.

Figure 1.

The cube metaphor for multidimensional modeling

Multidimensional modeling and OLAP workloads require specialized design techniques. In the context of design, a basic role is played by conceptual modeling that provides a higher level of abstraction in describing the warehousing process and architecture in all its aspects, aimed at achieving independence of implementation issues. Conceptual modeling is widely recognized to be the necessary foundation for building a database that is well-documented and fully satisfies the user requirements; usually, it relies on a graphical notation that facilitates writing, understanding, and managing conceptual schemata by both designers and users.

Unfortunately, in the field of data warehousing there still is no consensus about a formalism for conceptual modeling (Sen & Sinha, 2005). The entity/relationship (E/R) model is widespread in the enterprises as a conceptual formalism to provide standard documentation for relational information systems, and a great deal of effort has been made to use E/R schemata as the input for designing nonrelational databases as well (Fahrner & Vossen, 1995); nevertheless, as E/R is oriented to support queries that navigate associations between data rather than synthesize them, it is not well suited for data warehousing (Kimball, 1996). Actually, the E/R model has enough expressivity to represent most concepts necessary for modeling a DW; on the other hand, in its basic form, it is not able to properly emphasize the key aspects of the multidimensional model, so that its usage for DWs is expensive from the point of view of the graphical notation and not intuitive (Golfarelli, Maio, & Rizzi, 1998).

Some designers claim to use star schemata for conceptual modeling. A star schema is the standard implementation of the multidimensional model on relational platforms; it is just a (denormalized) relational schema, so it merely defines a set of relations and integrity constraints. Using the star schema for conceptual modeling is like starting to build a complex software by writing the code, without the support of and static, functional, or dynamic model, which typically leads to very poor results from the points of view of adherence to user requirements, of maintenance, and of reuse.

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
David Taniar
Chapter 1
Laila Niedrite, Maris Solodovnikova Treimanis, Liga Grundmane
There are many methods in the area of data warehousing to define requirements for the development of the most appropriate conceptual model of a data... Sample PDF
Development of Data Warehouse Conceptual Models: Method Engineering Approach
Chapter 2
Stefano Rizzi
In the context of data warehouse design, a basic role is played by conceptual modeling, that provides a higher level of abstraction in describing... Sample PDF
Conceptual Modeling Solutions for the Data Warehouse
Chapter 3
Hamid Haidarian Shahri
Entity resolution (also known as duplicate elimination) is an important part of the data cleaning process, especially in data integration and... Sample PDF
A Machine Learning Approach to Data Cleaning in Databases and Data Warehouses
Chapter 4
Maurizio Pighin, Lucio Ieronutti
Data Warehouses are increasingly used by commercial organizations to extract, from a huge amount of transactional data, concise information useful... Sample PDF
Interactive Quality-Oriented Data Warehouse Development
Chapter 5
Dirk Draheim, Oscar Mangisengi
Nowadays tracking data from activity checkpoints of unit transactions within an organization’s business processes becomes an important data resource... Sample PDF
Integrated Business and Production Process Data Warehousing
Chapter 6
Jorge Loureiro, Orlando Belo
OLAP queries are characterized by short answering times. Materialized cube views, a pre-aggregation and storage of group-by values, are one of the... Sample PDF
Selecting and Allocating Cubes in Multi-Node OLAP Systems: An Evolutionary Approach
Chapter 7
Jorge Loureiro, Orlando Belo
Globalization and market deregulation has increased business competition, which imposed OLAP data and technologies as one of the great enterprise’s... Sample PDF
Swarm Quant' Intelligence for Optimizing Multi-Node OLAP Systems
Chapter 8
Franck Ravat, Olivier Teste, Ronan Tournier
With the emergence of Semi-structured data format (such as XML), the storage of documents in centralised facilities appeared as a natural adaptation... Sample PDF
Multidimensional Anlaysis of XML Document Contents with OLAP Dimensions
Chapter 9
Hanene Ben-Abdallah, Jamel Feki, Mounira Ben Abdallah
Despite their strategic importance, the wide-spread usage of decision support systems remains limited by both the complexity of their design and the... Sample PDF
A Multidimensional Pattern Based Approach for the Design of Data Marts
Chapter 10
Concepción M. Gascueña, Rafael Guadalupe
The Multidimensional Databases (MDB) are used in the Decision Support Systems (DSS) and in Geographic Information Systems (GIS); the latter locates... Sample PDF
A Multidimensional Methodology with Support for Spatio-Temporal Multigranularity in the Conceptual and Logical Phases
Chapter 11
Francisco Araque, Alberto Salguero, Cecilia Delgado
One of the most complex issues of the integration and transformation interface is the case where there are multiple sources for a single data... Sample PDF
Methodology for Improving Data Warehouse Design using Data Sources Temporal Metadata
Chapter 12
Shi-Ming Huang, John Tait, Chun-Hao Su, Chih-Fong Tsai
Data warehousing is a popular technology, which aims at improving decision-making ability. As the result of an increasingly competitive environment... Sample PDF
Using Active Rules to Maintain Data Consistency in Data Warehouse Systems
Chapter 13
Marcin Gorawski, Wojciech Gebczyk
This chapter describes realization of distributed approach to continuous queries with kNN join processing in the spatial telemetric data warehouse.... Sample PDF
Distributed Approach to Continuous Queries with kNN Join Processing in Spatial Telemetric Data Warehouse
Chapter 14
Maria Luisa Damiani, Stefano Spaccapietra
This chapter is concerned with multidimensional data models for spatial data warehouses. Over the last few years different approaches have been... Sample PDF
Spatial Data Warehouse Modelling
Chapter 15
Jérôme Darmont
Performance evaluation is a key issue for designers and users of Database Management Systems (DBMSs). Performance is generally assessed with... Sample PDF
Data Warehouse Benchmarking with DWEB
Chapter 16
Lars Frank, Christian Frank
A Star Schema Data Warehouse looks like a star with a central, so-called fact table, in the middle, surrounded by so-called dimension tables with... Sample PDF
Analyses and Evaluation of Responses to Slowly Changing Dimensions in Data Warehouses
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