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entity relationship diagrams

entity relationship diagrams

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Published by: bunty142001 on Mar 03, 2010
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Developing Entity Relationship Diagrams (ERDs)Introduction
This document seeks to give expanded explanation and examples of how to produceentity relationship diagrams.It is based on material adapted from a previous CQU course web page(http://infocom.cqu.edu.au/Courses/spr2000/95169/Extra_Examples/ERD.htm) andmaterial used in Lecture 7 for COIS20025 in Term 2, 2006.
Why ERDs?
Entity Relationship Diagrams are a major data modelling tool and will help organize thedata in your project into entities and define the relationships between the entities. This process has proved to enable the analyst to produce a good database structure so that thedata can be stored and retrieved in a most efficient manner.By using a graphical format it may help communication about the design between thedesigner and the user and the designer and the people who will implement it.
Components of an ERD
An ERD typically consists of four different graphical components:1.
Entity.A data entity is anything real or abstract about which we want to store data. Entitytypes fall into five classes: roles, events, locations, tangible things or concepts.E.g. employee, payment, campus, book. Specific examples of an entity are calledinstances. E.g. the employee John Jones, Mary Smith's payment, etc.2.
Relationship.A data relationship is a natural association that exists between one or moreentities. E.g. Employees process payments.3.
Cardinality.Defines the number of occurrences of one entity for a single occurrence of therelated entity. E.g. an employee may process many payments but might not process any payments depending on the nature of her job.4.
Attribute.A data attribute is a characteristic common to all or most instances of a particular entity. Synonyms include property, data element, field. E.g. Name, address,Employee Number, pay rate are all attributes of the entity employee. An attributeor combination of attributes that uniquely identifies one and only one instance of an entity is called a primary key or identifier. E.g. Employee Number is a primarykey for Employee.Figure 1 is a very simple, example ERD with each of the four components labelled.
Figure 1A simple, example ERD
Different ERD styles 
As with many data modelling tools there are a number of different styles used to createERDs. This web page (http://www.smartdraw.com/tutorials/software-erd/erdcardinality.htm) lists four different styles for caradinalities.The style used in this course will be the one labelled "Information Engineering".
One Methodology for Developing an ERD
Typically you will start with a case study or perhaps a logical model of the system to bedeveloped. This document will demonstrate how to use the following process to convertthat information into an ERD.The process has ten steps:1.
Identify EntitiesIdentify the roles, events, locations, tangible things or concepts about which theend-users want to store data.2.
Find RelationshipsFind the natural associations between pairs of entities using a relationship matrix.3.
Draw Rough ERDPut entities in rectangles and relationships on line segments connecting theentities.
Fill in CardinalityDetermine the number of occurrences of one entity for a single occurrence of therelated entity.5.
Define Primary KeysIdentify the data attribute(s) that uniquely identify one and only one occurrence of each entity.6.
Draw Key-Based ERDEliminate Many-to-Many relationships and include primary and foreign keys ineach entity.7.
Identify Attributes Name the information details (fields) which are essential to the system under development.8.
Map AttributesFor each attribute, match it with exactly one entity that it describes.9.
Draw fully attributed ERDAdjust the ERD from step 6 to account for entities or relationships discovered instep 8.10.
Check ResultsDoes the final Entity Relationship Diagram accurately depict the system data?
A Simple Example
The above process will be illustrated by working through the following example.A company has several departments. Each department has a supervisor and atleast one employee. Employees must be assigned to at least one, but possiblymore departments. At least one employee is assigned to a project, but anemployee may be on vacation and not assigned to any projects. The importantdata fields are the names of the departments, projects, supervisors andemployees, as well as the supervisor and employee number and a unique project number.Each of the following sections corresponds to one of the stages above.
Identify entities
In this stage, you look through the information about the system and seek to identify theroles, events, locations, concepts and other tangible things that you wish to store dataabout. One approach to this is to work through the information and highlight those wordswhich you think correspond to entities.A
has several
. Each department has a
andat least one
. Employees must be assigned to at least one, but possibly more departments. At least one employee is assigned to a
, butan employee may be on vacation and not assigned to any projects. Theimportant data fields are the names of the departments, projects, supervisors

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