Database Model Diagrams - Draw Entity-Relationship Model Diagrams Easily with Edraw!
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The Entity-Relationship Model
The Entity-Relationship (ER) model was originally
proposed by Peter in 1976 [Chen76] as a way to unify the network and relational
database views. Simply stated the ER model is a conceptual data model that views
the real world as entities and relationships. A basic component of the model is
the Entity-Relationship diagram which is used to visually represents data
objects. Since Chen wrote his paper the model has been extended and today it is
commonly used for database design For the database designer. The utility of the
ER model is:
- it maps well to the relational model. The
constructs used in the ER model can easily be transformed into relational
- it is simple and easy to understand with a minimum
of training. Therefore, the model can be used by the database designer to
communicate the design to the end user.
- In addition, the model can be used as a design plan
by the database developer to implement a data model in a specific database
Symbols for Database Model Diagrams
With an extensive set of library objects such as
entities, links, items, attributes, users, types, captions, inheritance,
references, boundaries, events, clouds etc., Edraw is a perfect tool for database
model design and ER diagramming.
The Database Model Diagram template helps you design and
implement database structures. You can use both Entity-Relationship (ER) and
Integrated Definition for Data Modeling (IDEF1X) notation when creating the
Entity Relationship Symbols
Object Relationship Symbols
Basic Constructs of E-R Modeling
The ER model views the real world as a construct of
entities and association between entities.
Entities are the principal data object about which
information is to be collected. Entities are usually recognizable concepts,
either concrete or abstract, such as person, places, things, or events which
have relevance to the database. Some specific examples of entities are
EMPLOYEES, PROJECTS, INVOICES. An entity is analogous to a table in the
Entities are classified as independent or dependent (in
some methodologies, the terms used are strong and weak, respectively). An
independent entity is one that does not rely on another for identification. A
dependent entity is one that relies on another for identification.
An entity occurrence (also called an instance) is an
individual occurrence of an entity. An occurrence is analogous to a row in the
Special Entity Types
Associative entities (also known as intersection entities)
are entities used to associate two or more entities in order to reconcile a
Subtypes entities are used in generalization hierarchies to
represent a subset of instances of their parent entity, called the supertype,
but which have attributes or relationships that apply only to the subset.
Associative entities and generalization hierarchies are
discussed in more detail below.
A Relationship represents an association between two or
more entities. An example of a relationship would be:
- employees are assigned to projects
- projects have subtasks
- departments manage one or more projects
Relationships are classified in terms of degree,
connectivity, cardinality, and existence. These concepts will be discussed
Attributes describe the entity of which they are
associated. A particular instance of an attribute is a value. For example, "Jane
R. Hathaway" is one value of the attribute Name. The domain of an attribute is
the collection of all possible values an attribute can have. The domain of Name
is a character string.
Attributes can be classified as identifiers or descriptors.
Identifiers, more commonly called keys, uniquely identify an instance of an
entity. A descriptor describes a non-unique characteristic of an entity
Relationships are classified by their degree, connectivity,
cardinality, direction, type, and existence. Not all modeling methodologies use
all these classifications.
Degree of a Relationship
The degree of a relationship is the number of entities
associated with the relationship. The n-ary relationship is the general form for
degree n. Special cases are the binary, and ternary ,where the degree is 2, and
Binary relationships, the association between two entities
is the most common type in the real world. A recursive binary relationship
occurs when an entity is related to itself. An example might be "some employees
are married to other employees".
A ternary relationship involves three entities and is used
when a binary relationship is inadequate. Many modeling approaches recognize
only binary relationships. Ternary or n-ary relationships are decomposed into
two or more binary relationships.
The direction of a relationship indicates the originating
entity of a binary relationship. The entity from which a relationship originates
is the parent entity; the entity where the relationship terminates is the child
The direction of a relationship is determined by its
connectivity. In a one-to-one relationship the direction is from the independent
entity to a dependent entity. If both entities are independent, the direction is
arbitrary. With one-to-many relationships, the entity occurring once is the
parent. The direction of many-to-many relationships is arbitrary.
An identifying relationship is one in which one of the
child entities is also a dependent entity. A non-identifying relationship is one
in which both entities are independent.
Existence denotes whether the existence of an entity
instance is dependent upon the existence of another, related, entity instance.
The existence of an entity in a relationship is defined as either mandatory or
optional. If an instance of an entity must always occur for an entity to be
included in a relationship, then it is mandatory. An example of mandatory
existence is the statement "every project must be managed by a single
department". If the instance of the entity is not required, it is optional. An
example of optional existence is the statement, "employees may be assigned to
work on projects".
A generalization hierarchy is a form of abstraction that
specifies that two or more entities that share common attributes can be
generalized into a higher level entity type called a supertype or generic
entity. The lower-level of entities become the subtype, or categories, to the
super type. Subtypes are dependent entities.
There is no standard for representing data objects in ER
diagrams. Each modeling methodology uses its own notation. The original notation
used by Chen is widely used in academics texts and journals but rarely seen in
either CASE tools or publications by non-academics. Today, there are a number of
notations used, among the more common are Bachman, crow's foot, and IDEFIX.
All notational styles represent entities as rectangular
boxes and relationships as lines connecting boxes. Each style uses a special set
of symbols to represent the cardinality of a connection. The notation used in
this document is from Martin. The symbols used for the basic ER constructs are:
- entities are represented by labeled rectangles. The
label is the name of the entity. Entity names should be singular nouns.
- relationships are represented by a solid line
connecting two entities. The name of the relationship is written above the
line. Relationship names should be verbs.
- attributes, when included, are listed inside the
entity rectangle. Attributes which are identifiers are underlined. Attribute
names should be singular nouns.
- cardinality of many is represented by a line ending
in a crow's foot. If the crow's foot is omitted, the cardinality is one.
- existence is represented by placing a circle or a
perpendicular bar on the line. Mandatory existence is shown by the bar
(looks like a 1) next to the entity for an instance is required. Optional
existence is shown by placing a circle next to the entity that is optional.
You can also use Edraw to draw Chen ERD,
diagram, Express-G, Martin ERD,
ORM Diagram and a lot more.
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