Refining the ER Design for the COMPANY Database



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We can now refine the database design in Figure 7.8 by changing the attributes that represent relationships into relationship types. The cardinality ratio and participation constraint of each relationship type are determined from the requirements listed in Section 7.2. If some cardinality ratio or dependency cannot be determined from the requirements, the users must be questioned further to determine these structural constraints. In our example, we specify the following relationship types:

? MANAGES, a 1:1 relationship type between EMPLOYEE and DEPARTMENT. EMPLOYEE participation is partial. DEPARTMENT participation is not clear from the requirements. We question the users, who say that a department must have a manager at all times, which implies total participation.13 The attribute Start_date is assigned to this relationship type.

? WORKS_FOR, a 1:N relationship type between DEPARTMENT and EMPLOYEE. Both participations are total.

? CONTROLS, a 1:N relationship type between DEPARTMENT and PROJECT. The participation of PROJECT is total, whereas that of DEPARTMENT is determined to be partial, after consultation with the users indicates that some departments may control no projects.

? SUPERVISION, a 1:N relationship type between EMPLOYEE (in the supervisor role) and EMPLOYEE (in the supervisee role). Both participations are determined to be partial, after the users indicate that not every employee is a supervisor and not every employee has a supervisor.

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? WORKS_ON, determined to be an M:N relationship type with attribute Hours, after the users indicate that a project can have several employees working on it. Both participations are determined to be total.

? DEPENDENTS_OF, a 1:N relationship type between EMPLOYEE and DEPENDENT, which is also the identifying relationship for the weak entitytype DEPENDENT. The participation of EMPLOYEE is partial, whereas that of DEPENDENT is total.

After specifying the above six relationship types, we remove from the entity types in Figure 7.8 all attributes that have been refined into relationships. These include Manager and Manager_start_date from DEPARTMENT; Controlling_department from PROJECT; Department, Supervisor, and Works_on from EMPLOYEE; and Employee from DEPENDENT. It is important to have the least possible redundancy when we design the conceptual schema of a database. If some redundancy is desired at the storage level or at the user view level, it can be introduced later.


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