The Entity-Relationship Model

Conceptual Data Modeling Lecture 3

The Entity-Relationship model
‡ The E-R model is a detailed, logical representation of the data for an organisation or business area ‡ It should be understandable to both the user and to the IT technologist ‡ The model must be as µopen¶ as possible and not tied to any technology or to any particular business methodology ‡ It must be flexible enough so that it can be used and understood in practically any environment where information is modelled

The ER model
‡ It is expressed in terms of entities in the business environment, the relationships (or associations) among those entities and the attributes (properties) of both the entities and their relationships ‡ The E-R model is usually expressed as an E-R diagram

E-R Model Constructs
‡ Entity - person, place, object, event, concept ‡ Entity Type - is a collection of entities that share common properties or characteristics. Each entity type is given a name, since this name represents a set of items, it is always singular. It is placed inside the box representing the entity type (Fig. 3-1) ‡ Entity instance ± is a single occurrence of an entity type. An entity type is described just once (using metadata) in a database, while many instances of that entity type may be represented by data stored in the database. e.g. ± there is one EMPLOYEE entity type in most organisations, but there may be hundreds of instances of this entity stored in the database

Sample E-R Diagram

Entity type versus system input, output or user
‡ A common mistake is to confuse data entities with other elements of the IS model ‡ A simple rule is that a true data entity will have many possible instances, each with a distinguishing characteristic ‡ Treasurer is the person entering data ± and data about the treasurer need not be kept

Entity type versus system input, output or user
‡ Is the expense report entity necessary? It is only the result of extracting data from the database. Even though there will be multiple instances of expense reports given to the treasurer over time, data needed to compute the report contents each time are already represented by the ACCOUNT and EXPENSE entity types ‡ ³Gives-to´ and ³Receives´ are business activities, not relationships between entities.

Example of inappropriate entities (a) System user (Treasurer) and output (Expense Report) shown as entities

(b) E-R model with only the necessary entities

Strong versus Weak entity type
Most of the basic entity types are classified as strong entity types [Rectangle] ± one that exists independently from other entity types (such as EMPLOYEE) Always have a unique characteristic (identifier) ± an attribute or combination of attributes that uniquely distinguish each occurrence of that identity A weak entity type [[Double Rectangle]] ± existence depends on some other entity type. It has no meaning in the ER diagram without the entity on which it depends (such as DEPENDENT) The entity type on which the weak entity type depends is called the Identifying owner (or owner for short).

Strong versus Weak entity type
Identifying relationship is the relationship between a weak entity type and and its owner (such as µHas¶ in the following Fig.) Weak entity identifier is its partial identifier (double underline) combined with that of its owner. During a later design stage dependent name will be combined with Employee_ID (the identifier of the owner) to form a full identifier for DEPENDENT.

Example of a weak entity

‡ An attribute is a property or characteristic of an entity type, for example the entity EMPLOYEE may have attributes Employee_Name and Employee_Address. ‡ In ER diagrams place attributes name in an ellipse with a line connecting it to its associated entity ‡ Attributes may also be associated with relationships ‡ An attribute is associated with exactly one entity or relationship

Simple versus composite attributes (following Fig.)
‡ Some attributes can be broken down into meaningful component parts, such as Address, which can be broken down into Street_Address, City..etc. ‡ The component attributes may appear above or below the composite attribute on an ER diagram ‡ Provide flexibility to users, as can refer to it as a single unit or to the individual components ‡ A simple (atomic) attribute is one that cannot be broken down into smaller components

A composite attribute

Single-Valued versus Multivalued Attribute
‡ It frequently happens that there is an attribute that may have more than one value for a given instance, e.g. EMPLOYEE may have more than one Skill. ‡ A multivalued attribute is one that may take on more than one value ± it is represented by an ellipse with double lines

Entity with a multivalued attribute (Skill) and derived attribute (Years_Employed)

Stored versus Derived Attributes
‡ Some attribute values can be calculated or derived from others ‡ e.g., if Years_Employed needs to be calculated for EMPLOYEE, it can be calculated using Date_Employed and Today's_Date ‡ A derived attribute is one whose value can be calculated from related attribute values (plus possibly other data not in the database) ‡ A derived attribute is signified by an ellipse with a dashed line (see previous Fig.)

Identifier attribute
‡ Identifier attribute or Key is an attribute (or combination of attributes) that uniquely identifies individual instances of an entity type, such as Student_ID ‡ To be a candidate identifier, each entity instance must have a single value for the attribute, and the attribute must be associated with each entity ‡ The identifier attribute is underlined, such as Student_ID

Simple and composite key attributes (a) Simple key attribute

Composite Identifier
‡ A Composite Identifier is when there is no single (or atomic) that can serve as an identifier ‡ Flight_ID is a composite identifier that has component attributes Flight_Number and Date ± this combination is required to uniquely identify individual occurrences of Flight ‡ Flight_ID is underlined, whilst its components are not

(b) Composite key attribute

Criteria for selecting identifiers
Some entities have more than one candidate identifier, so the following criteria should be used: Choose identifier that will not change in value over the life of each instance of the entity type Choose identifier that is guaranteed to have valid values and Will not be null (or unknown). If composite, make sure all parts will have valid values

Criteria for selecting identifiers
Avoid the use of intelligent identifiers whose structure indicates classifications, locations or people that might change. e.g. the first two digits of an identifier may indicate a warehouse location, but such codes are often changed as conditions change, which renders them invalid. Consider substituting new, simple identifiers for long, composite ones, e.g. an attribute called Game_Number could be used for the entity type GAME instead of Home_Team and Away_Team

Relationships (following Fig.)
‡ A relationship is an association among the instances of one or more entity types that is of interest to the organisation ‡ Relationship Type is a meaningful association between (or among) entities ± implying that the relationship allows us to answer questions that could not be answered given only the entity types. It is denoted by a diamond symbol

Relationship types and instances (a) Relationship type (Completes)

Relationship instance
‡ Is an association between (or among) entity instances, where each relationship includes exactly one entity from each participating entity type. ‡ For example, in the following figure each line represents a relationship instance between one employee and one course, indicating that the employee has completed that course

(b) Relationship instances

Attributes on relationships
‡ Attributes may be associated with a many-to-many (or one-to-one) relationship, as well as with an entity ‡ e.g., an organisation may want to record the date when an employee completes each course ‡ In the following diagram, the relationship µCompletes¶ joins the EMPLOYEE and COURSE entities, and Date_Completed is joined to this as it is a property of the relationship µCompletes¶

An associative entity (a) Attribute on a relationship

Associative entities (gerunds)
‡ The presence of one or more attributes on a relationship suggests that the relationship should perhaps be represented as an entity type ‡ An associative entity is an entity type that associates the instances of one or more entity types and contains attributes that are peculiar to the relationship between those entity instances. ‡ The associative entity type CERTIFICATE is represented with the diamond relationship symbol enclosed within the entity rectangle

Associative entities (gerunds)
‡ The purpose of this special symbol is to preserve the information that the entity was initially specified as a relationship on the ER diagram ‡ There is no relationship diamond on the line between an associative entity and a strong entity, because the associative entity represents the relationship

Associative entities
‡ How do you know when to convert a relationship to an associative entity type? Four conditions should exist: ‡ All of the relationships are µmany¶ relationships ‡ The resulting associative identity type has independent meaning to end-users, and can preferably be identified with a single-attribute identifier

Associative entities
‡ The associative entity has one or more attributes in addition to the identifier ‡ The associative entity participates in one or more relationships independent of the entities related in the associated relationship ‡ The following figure shows the relationship µCompletes¶ converted to an associative entity type ‡ A CERTIFICATE is awarded to each EMPLOYEE who completes a COURSE, each certificate has a Certificate_Number that serves as the identifier

(b) An associative entity (CERTIFICATE)

Degree of a relationship
Is the number of entity types that participate in it. Thus µCompletes¶ has degree 2, since there are two participating entity types, EMPLOYEE and COURSE The three most common relationship degrees are unary (degree 1), binary (degree 2) and ternary (degree 3 ±see following Fig.) Higher degree relationships are possible but rarely encountered in practice

Unary relationship
‡ Is between the instances of a single entity type (also called recursive relationships) ‡ µIs_Married_To¶ is a one-to-one relationship between instances of the PERSON entity type ‡ µManages¶ is a one-to-many relationship between instances of the EMPLOYEE entity type

Binary relationships
‡ Between the instances of two entity types, and is the most common type of relationship encountered in data modelling. e.g. (one-to-one) an EMPLOYEE is assigned one PARKING_PLACE, and each PARKING_PLACE is assigned to one EMPLOYEE ‡ e.g. (one to many) a PRODUCT_LINE may contain many PRODUCTS, and each PRODUCT belongs to only one PRODUCT_LINE ‡ e.g. (many-to-many) a STUDENT may register for more than one COURSE, and each COURSE may have many STUDENTS

Ternary relationships
‡ A ternary relationship is a simultaneous relationship among the instances of 3 entity types ‡ It is the most common relationship encountered in data modelling ‡ The following Fig. shows a typical ternary relationship ‡ Here, vendors can supply various parts to warehouses

Ternary relationships
‡ The relationship µSupplies¶ is used to record the specific PARTs supplied by a given VENDOR to a particular WAREHOUSE ‡ There are two attributes on the relationship µSupplies¶, Shipping_Mode and Unit_Cost ‡ e.g. one instance of µSupplies might record that VENDOR X can ship PART C to WAREHOUSE Y, that the Shipping_Mode is µnext_day_air¶ and the Unit_Cost is £500 per unit

Ternary relationships

Ternary relationships
‡ We do not use diamond symbols on the lines from SUPPLY_SCHEDULE to the three entities, because these lines do not represent binary relationships ‡ It is recommended that all ternary (or higher) relationships are converted into associative entities (as in the Fig.), as it makes the representation of participation constraints (discussed later) easier ‡ Many CASE tools cannot represent ternary relationships, so you must represent the ternary relationship with an associative entity and three binary relationships

Cardinality constraints
‡ The number of instances of one entity that can or must be associated with each instance of another entity. ‡ If we have two entity types A and B, the cardinality constraint specifies the number of instances of entity B that can (or must) be associated with entity A ‡ e.g. a video store may stock more than one VIDEOTAPE for each MOVIE, this is a µone-to-many¶ relationship as in the following Fig.

Introducing cardinality constraints (a) Basic relationship

Minimum cardinality
‡ Yet there may be a more precise way of saying this ‡ The minimum cardinality of a relationship is the minimum number of instances of an entity B that may be associated with each instance of an entity A ‡ In our example, the minimum number of VIDEOTAPES of a MOVIE is zero (entity B is an optional participant in the µIs_Stocked_As¶ relationship) ‡ This is signified by the symbol zero through the arrow near the VIDEOTAPE entity in the following Fig.

Maximum cardinality
‡ Is the maximum number of instances of an entity B that may be associated with each instance of entity A ‡ In the following Fig., the maximum cardinality for the VIDEOTAPE entity type is µmany¶ (an unspecified number greater than 1) ‡ This is indicated by the µcrow¶s foot¶ symbol on the arrow next to the VIDEOTAPE entity symbol

Mandatory one cardinality
‡ Relationships are bi-directional, so there is also cardinality notation next to the MOVIE entity ‡ Notice that as the minimum and maximum are both one, this is called mandatory one cardinality (i.e., each VIDEOTAPE of a MOVIE must be a copy of exactly one movie) ‡ In the following Fig. Some attributes have been added. VIDEOTAPE is represented as a weak entity because it cannot exist unless the original owner movie also exists

Mandatory one cardinality
‡ The identifier of the MOVIE is µMovie_Name¶ ‡ VIDEOTAPE does not have a unique identifier, however the partial identifier Copy_Number together with Movie_Name would uniquely identify an instance of VIDEOTAPE

(b) Relationship with cardinality constraints

Example of mandatory cardinality constraints
‡ Each PATIENT has one or more PATIENT_HISTORIES (the initial patient visit is always recorded as an instance of PATIENT_HISTORY) ‡ Each instance of PATIENT_HISTORY µBelongs to¶ exactly one PATIENT (see following Fig.)

Mandatory cardinalities

Example of one optional, one mandatory cardinality constraint
‡ EMPLOYEE Is_Assigned_To PROJECT ‡ Each PROJECT has at least one EMPLOYEE assigned to it (some projects have more than one) ‡ Each EMPLOYEE may or (optionally) may not be assigned to any existing PROJECT, or may be assigned to one or more PROJECTs (see following Fig.)

One optional, one mandatory cardinality

An example using a ternary relationship
‡ PART and WAREHOUSE are mandatory participants in the relationship, whilst VENDOR is an optional participant ‡ The cardinality of each of the participating entities is mandatory one, since each SUPPLY_SCHEDULE instance must be related to exactly one instance of each of these participating entity types

An example using a ternary relationship
‡ Each VENDOR can supply many PARTs to any number of WAREHOUSES, but need not supply any parts ‡ Each PART can be supplied by any number of VENDORs to more than one WAREHOUSE, but each part must be supplied by at least one vendor to a warehouse ‡ Each WAREHOUSE can be supplied with any number of PARTS from more than one VENDOR, but each warehouse must be supplied with at least one part

Cardinality constraints in a ternary relationship

An example using a ternary relationship
‡ A ternary relationship is not equivalent to three binary relationships ‡ Unfortunately you cannot draw ternary relationships with many CASE tools ‡ Instead you must represent ternary relationships as three binaries ‡ If you are forced to do this, then do not draw the binary relationships with diamonds and make sure the cardinality next to the three strong entities are mandatory one

Modelling time-dependent data
‡ Some database values change over time (e.g. price) ‡ We may need to preserve a history of the prices and the time period over which each was in effect ‡ We can think of a series of prices and the effective date (see Fig.), giving a (composite) multivalued attribute Price_History (that has components µPrice¶ and µEffective_Date¶)

Simple example of time stamping

Time stamps
‡ Are simply time values associated with a data value ‡ May be recorded to indicate the time the value was entered (transaction time), time the value becomes valid or stops being valid, or the time when critical actions were performed (such as updates, corrections or audits)

More complex time-dependent data
‡ Suppose that in the middle of the year some PRODUCTS are reassigned to different PRODUCT_LINES, so all sales reports will show cumulative sales for a product based on its current product line, rather than the one at the time of the sale ‡ To model this, a new relationship Sales_for_Product_Line has been added between ORDER and PRODUCT_LINE, so that as customer orders are processed, they are credited to both the correct product and the correct product line as the time of the sale ‡ Many current data models are inadequate in handling timedependent data, but some data-warehousing systems provide explicit designs for time dependent data

Multiple relationships
‡ In some situations an organisation may want to model more than one relationship between the same entity types ‡ The following figure shows two relationships between PROFESSOR and COURSE ‡ The relationship Is_Qualified associates professors with the courses they are qualified to teach ‡ A given course may have more than one person qualified to teach it, or (optionally) may not have any qualified instructors (such as a new course) ‡ Each professor should be qualified to teach at least one course (we hope!)

Multiple relationships
‡ The second relationship in this figure associates professors with the courses they actually teach during a given semester (where the maximum cardinality for a given semester is 4) ‡ This shows how a fixed constraint (upper or lower) can be recorded ‡ The attribute µSemester¶ (which could be a composite attribute with components µSemester_Name¶ and µYear¶) is on the relationship Is_Scheduled)

(b) Professors and courses (fixed upon constraint)

Review of Basic E-R Notation

Data integrity controls
‡ Referential integrity ± constraint that ensures that foreign key values of a table must match primary key values of a related table in 1:M relationships ‡ A value in the matching column on the many side must correspond to a value in the primary key for some row in the table on the one side, or be NULL. ‡ The REFERENCES clause prevents a foreign key value from being added if it is not already a valid value in the referenced primary key column, but there are also other integrity issues ‡ If a CUSTOMER_ID value is changed, the connection between that customer and orders placed by that customer will be ruined

Data integrity controls
‡ The REFERENCES clause prevents making such a key in the foreign value, but not in the primary key value ‡ Can be handled by asserting that the primary key values cannot be changed once they are established. In this case, updates to the customer table will be handled by including an ON UPDATE RESTRICT clause - so any updates to a primary key value will be rejected unless no foreign key references that value in any child table (see Fig.) ‡ Another solution is to pass the changes through to the child tables by using ON UPDATE CASCADE

Data integrity controls
‡ A third solution is to allow the update on CUSTOMER_T but to change the involved CUSTOMER_ID value in the ORDER_T table to NULL using the ON UPDATE SET NULL option - here the connection between the order and the customer would be lost (not good) so probably the best option would be the second, ON UPDATE CASCADE ‡ Similar options are available for DELETE, such as as ON DELETE RESTRICT where the customer record could not be deleted unless there were no orders from the customer ‡ With DELETE CASCADE, removing the customer would remove all associated order records

Ensuring data integrity through updates

Changing tables
‡ ALTER TABLE statement allows you to change column specifications (not in views). e.g. a µcustomer type¶ column may be added to the CUSTOMER table: ‡ ALTER TABLE CUSTOMER_T ‡ ADD (TYPE VARCHAR(2)) ‡ May include keywords such as ADD, DROP or ALTER and allows changing the columns names, datatype, length and constraints ‡ Usually its null status will be NULL.When the new column is created, it is added to all of the instances in the table and the value of NULL would be the most reasonable

Removing tables
‡ The DROP TABLE statement allows you to remove tables from your schema: ‡ DROP TABLE CUSTOMER_T ‡ Views are dropped by using the similar DROP VIEW command ‡ The DROP TABLE command will drop the table and save any pending changes to the database ‡ It can be qualified with RESTRICT (will fail if there are any dependent objects such as views or constraints that currently reference the table) or CASCADE (all dependent objects will also be dropped)

Removing tables
‡ Can retain the tables structure but remove all the data in the table using the TRUNCATE_TABLE command.

Insert statement
‡ Adds data to a table and is used to populate tables. If inserting a value for every column into a table could use (must be in correct order): ‡ INSERT INTO CUSTOMER_T VALUES ‡ (001, µCONTEMPORARY Casuals¶, 1355 S. Himes Blvd.¶, µGainesville¶, µFL¶, 32601); ‡ When data will not be entered into every column either the value NULL can be used for the empty fields or we can specify the columns to which data are to be added: ‡ INSERT INTO PRODUCT_T (PRODUCT_ID, PRODUCT_DESCRIPTION,PRODUCT_FINISH, STANDARD_PRICE, PRODUCT_ON_HAND) ‡ VALUES (1, µEnd Table¶, µCherry¶, 175, 8);

Insert statement
‡ Can insert from another table. e.g. when wanting to populate a table CA_CUSTOMER_T with only Californian customers, can do the following: ‡ INSERT INTO CA_CUSTOMER_T ‡ SELECT * FROM CUSTOMER_T ‡ WHERE STATE = µCA¶; ‡ The table identified in the INSERT command may be a view, but the view must be updateable so that data inserted through the view is also inserted into the base table on which the view is based

Delete statement
‡ Removes rows from a table, individually or in groups. Supposing we can no longer deal with customers in Hawaii, we could delete the correct rows using: ‡ DELETE FROM CUSTOMER_T ‡ WHERE STATE = µHI¶; ‡ To delete all rows from a table: ‡ DELETE FROM CUSTOMER_T;

Delete statement
‡ Deletion should be done with care when rows from several relations are involved. If we delete a CUSTOMER_T row before deleting associated ORDER_T rows, we will have a referential integrity violation ‡ Using the ON DELETE clause with a field definition can solve such problems ‡ As SQL actually eliminates all records selected by a DELETE statement, it is always best to execute a SELECT command first to display the records first and verify you are doing the right thing!

Update statement
‡ To modify data in existing rows we must specify what relation, columns and rows are involved ‡ e.g., to update the price for the dining table (Product 7) in the PRODUCT_T table we would use: ‡ UPDATE PRODUCT_T ‡ SET UNIT_PRICE = 775 ‡ WHERE PRODUCT_ID = 7; ‡ The SET command can also change a value to NULL ‡ As with DELETE, the WHERE clause in an UPDATE command may contain a subquery, but the table being updated may not be referenced in the subquery (see later)

Commit and rollback
‡ A sequence of database modifications (insert, update and delete) is called a transaction ‡ Modifications of tuples are temporarily stored in the database system ‡ They become permanent only after the statement COMMIT has been issued ‡ As long as the user has not issued the COMMIT statement, it is possible to undo all modifications since the last COMMIT ‡ To undo modifications we use the ROLLBACK statement

Commit and rollback
‡ It is advisable to complete each modification of the database with a COMMIT (as long as the modification has the expected effect) ‡ Note that any data definition command such as CREATE TABLE results in an internal COMMIT ‡ A COMMIT is also implicitly executed when the user terminates an Oracle session

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