The Entity-Relationship Data Model

The Entity-Relationship Data Model

The procedure to design a database starts with an analysis of what information the database must hold and what are the relationships among elements of that information. Often, the structure of the database, called the database schema, is specified in one of several

Elements of the E/R Model

The most common model for abstract representation of the structure of a database is the entity-relationship model (or E/R model). In the E/R model, the structure of data is represented graphically, as an entity-relationship diagram," using three principal element

Instances of an E/R Diagram

E/R diagrams provide details for describing the schema of databases, that is, their structure. A database described by an E/R diagram will include specific data, which we call the database instance. Particularly, for each entity set, the database instance will have a particular finite

Multiplicity of Binary E/R Relationships

Generally, a binary relationship can connect any member of one of its entity sets to any number of members of the other entity set. On the other hand, it is common for there to be a restriction on the "multiplicity" of a relationship. Assume R is a relationship connecting entity

Multiway Relationships

The E/R model makes it easy to describe relationships involving more than two entity sets. In practice, ternary (three-way) or higher-degree relationships are infrequent, but they are rarely necessary to reflect the true state of affairs. A multiway relationship in an E/R diagram

Roles in Relationships

It is possible that one entity set appears two or more times in a single relation ship. If so, we draw as many lines from the relationship to the entity set as the entity set appears in the relationship. Each line to the entity

Attributes on Relationships

Occasionally it is convenient, or even necessary, to connect attributes with a relationship, rather than with any one of the entity sets that the relationship connects. For example, consider the relationship of Multiway Relationships figure, which represents contracts

Converting Multiway Relationships to Binary

There are a number of data models, such as ODL (Object Definition Language), which we introduce in Introduction to ODL, that limit relationships to be binary. Therefore, while the E/R model does not require binary relationships,

Subclasses in the E/R Model

Often, an entity set includes certain entities that have special attributes not connected with all members of the set. If so, we find it useful to describe certain special-case entity sets, or subclasses, each with its own special attributes and/or relationships. We join an entity set to

Design Principles

We have yet to learn many of the details of the E/R model, but we have enough to begin study of very important issue of what forms a good design and what should be avoided. In

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