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ER Design Issues

In the previous sections of the data modeling, we learned to design an ER diagram. We also discussed different ways of defining entity sets and relationships among them. We also understood the various designing shapes that represent a relationship, an entity, and its attributes. However, users often mislead the concept of the elements and the design process of the ER diagram. Thus, it leads to a complex structure of the ER diagram and certain issues that does not meet the characteristics of the real-world enterprise model.

Here, we will discuss the basic design issues of an ER database schema in the following points:

1) Use of Entity Set vs Attributes

The use of an entity set or attribute depends on the structure of the real-world enterprise that is being modelled and the semantics associated with its attributes. It leads to a mistake when the user use the primary key of an entity set as an attribute of another entity set. Instead, he should use the relationship to do so. Also, the primary key attributes are implicit in the relationship set, but we designate it in the relationship sets.

2) Use of Entity Set vs. Relationship Sets

It is difficult to examine if an object can be best expressed by an entity set or relationship set. To understand and determine the right use, the user need to designate a relationship set for describing an action that occurs in-between the entities. If there is a requirement of representing the object as a relationship set, then its better not to mix it with the entity set.

3) Use of Binary vs n-ary Relationship Sets

Generally, the relationships described in the databases are binary relationships. However, non-binary relationships can be represented by several binary relationships. For example, we can create and represent a ternary relationship 'parent' that may relate to a child, his father, as well as his mother. Such relationship can also be represented by two binary relationships i.e, mother and father, that may relate to their child. Thus, it is possible to represent a non-binary relationship by a set of distinct binary relationships.

4) Placing Relationship Attributes

The cardinality ratios can become an affective measure in the placement of the relationship attributes. So, it is better to associate the attributes of one-to-one or one-to-many relationship sets with any participating entity sets, instead of any relationship set. The decision of placing the specified attribute as a relationship or entity attribute should possess the charactestics of the real world enterprise that is being modelled.

For example, if there is an entity which can be determined by the combination of participating entity sets, instead of determing it as a separate entity. Such type of attribute must be associated with the many-to-many relationship sets.

Thus, it requires the overall knowledge of each part that is involved inb desgining and modelling an ER diagram. The basic requirement is to analyse the real-world enterprise and the connectivity of one entity or attribute with other.

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