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Published by: api-26413529 on Oct 14, 2008
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1. Starter 2
2. OLAP Example 3

3. Comparison of OLAP and OLTP 4
4. Storing Active OLAP data 4
5. Multi-dimension OLAP(MOLAP) 5
6. Relational OLAP (ROLAP) 5
7. Star schema for OLAP 5
8. Aggregation 10
9. Implementing techniques in OLAP 14
10. Performance improving techniques 14

1. Starter

A major issue in information processing is how to process larger and larger databases,
containing increasingly complex data, without sacrificing response time. The client/server
architecture gives organizations the opportunity to deploy specialized servers, which are
optimized for handling specific data management problems. Until recently, organizations have
tried to target relational database management systems (RDBMSs) for the complete spectrum
of database applications. It is however apparent that there are major categories of database
applications which are not suitably serviced by relational database systems. Oracle, for
example, has built a totally new Media Server for handling multimedia applications. Sybase uses
an object-oriented DBMS (OODBMS) in its Gain Momentum product which is designed to handle
complex data such as images and audio. Another category of applications is that ofon- l i ne

analytical processing (OLAP). OLAP was a term coined by E F Codd (1993) and was defined
by him as:
the dynamic synthesis, analysis and consolidation of large volumes of
multidimensional data
Codd has developed rules or requirements for an OLAP system:
o multidimensional conceptual view
o tr a ns p ar ency
o a cces s i b i li ty
o consistent reporting performance
o client/server architecture
o generic dimensionality
o dynamic sparse matrix handling
o multi-user support
o unrestricted cross dimensional operations
o intuitative data manipulation
o flexible reporting
o unlimited dimensions and aggregation levels
An alternative definition of OLAP has been supplied by Nigel Pendse, who unlike Codd, does not
mix technology prescriptions with application requirements. Pendse defines OLAP as,
Fast Analysis of Shared Multidimensional Information
Which means:
Fast in that users should get a response in seconds and so doesn't lose their chain of thought;
Analysis in that the system can provide analysis functions in an intuitive manner and that the
functions should supply business logic and statistical analysis relevant to the users application;
Shared from the point of view of supporting multiple users concurrently;
Multidimensional as a main requirement so that the system supplies a multidimensional
conceptual view of the data including support for multiple hierarchies;
Information is the data and the derived information required by the user application.

One question is what is multidimensional data and when does it becomes OLAP? It is essentially a way to build associations between dissimilar pieces of information using predefined business rules about the information you are using. Following three components are identified to OLAP,

o A multidimensional database must be able to express complex business calculations very

easily. The data must be referenced and mathematics defined. In a relational system there
is no relation between line items, which makes it very difficult to express business

o Intuitative navigation in order to `roam around' data which requires mining hierarchies.
oInstant response i.e. the need to give the user the information as quick as possible.

Dimensional databases are not without problem as they are not suited to storing all types of
data such as lists for example customer addresses and purchase orders etc. Relational systems
are also superior in security, backup and replication services, as these tend not to be available
at the same level in dimensional systems. The advantages of a dimensional system are the
freedom they offer in that the user is free to explore the data and receive the type of report
they want without being restricted to a set format.

We can also define alternatively OLAP as follows:

\u2018OLAP applications and tools are those that are designed to ask ad hoc, complex
queries of large multidimensional collections of data. It is for this reason that OLAP
is often mentioned in the context of Data Warehouses\u2019.

2. OLAP Example
An example OLAP database may be comprised of sales data which has been aggregated by
region, product type, and sales channel.

A typical OLAP query might access a multi-gigabyte/multi-year sales database in order to find all
product sales in each region for each product type. After reviewing the results, an analyst might
further refine the query to find sales volume for each sales channel within region/product
classifications. As a last step the analyst might want to perform year-to-year or quarter-to-
quarter comparisons for each sales channel. This whole process must be carried out on-line
with rapid response time so that the analysis process is undisturbed.

OLAP queries can be characterized as on-line transactions which:
o Access very large amounts of data, e.g. several years of sales data.

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