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Data Warehousing

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Issues of Dimensional Modeling
Step 3: Additive vs. Non-Additive facts
Additive facts are easy to work with
Crates of
§  Summing the fact value gives
Bottles Sold
meaningful results
§  Additive facts:
§  Quantity sold
§  Total Rs. sales
Non-additive facts:
§  Averages
sales price, unit price)
§  Percentages
% discount
§  Ratios (gross margin)
§  Count  of  distinct
products sold
There can be two types of facts i.e. additive and non-additive. Additive facts are those facts which
give the correct result by an addition operation. Examples of such facts could be number of items
sold, sales amount etc. Non-additive facts can also be added, but the addition gives incorrect
results. Some examples of non-additive facts are average, discount, ratios etc. Consider three
instances of 5, with the sum being 15 and average being 5. Now consider two numbers i.e. 5 and
10, the sum being 15, but the average being 7.5. Now if the average of 5 and 7.5 is taken this
comes to be 6.25, but if the average of the actual numbers is taken, the sum comes to be 30 and
the average being 6. Hence averages, if added gives wrong results. Now facts could be averages,
such as average sales per week etc, thus they are perfectly legitimate facts.
Step-3: Classification of Aggregation Functions
How hard to compute aggregate from sub-aggregates?
Three classes of aggregates:
§  Compute aggregate directly from sub-aggregates
§  Examples: MIN, MAX ,COUNT, SUM
§  Compute aggregate from constant-sized summary of subgroup
§  Examples: STDDEV, AVERAGE
§  For AVERAGE, summary data for each group is SUM, COUNT
§  Require unbounded amount of information about each subgroup
§  Usually impractical for a data warehouses!
We see that calculating aggregates from aggregates is desirable, but is not possible for non -
additive facts. So we deal with three types of aggregates i.e. distributive that are additive in
nature, and then algebraic which are non-additive in nature. Therefore, such aggregates have to be
computed from summary of subgroups to avoid the problem of incorrect results. The of course
are the holistic aggregates that give a complete picture of the data, such as median, or distinct
values. However, such aggregates are not desirable for a data warehouse environment, as it
requires a complete scanning, which is highly undesirable as it consumes lot of time.
Step-3: Not recording Facts
Transactional fact tables don't have records for events that don't occur
§  Example: No records(rows) for products that were not sold.
This has both advantage and disadvantage.
§  Advantage:
§  Benefit of sparsity of data
§  Significantly less data to store for "rare" events
Disadvantage: Lack of information
Example: What products on promotion were not sold?
Fact tables usually don't records events that don't happen, such as items that were not sold. The
advantage of this approach is getting around the problem of sparsity. Recall that when we
discussed MOLAP, we discussed the sales of different items not occurring in different
geographies and in different time frames, resulting in sparse cubes. If however this data is not
recorded, then significantly less data will be required to be stored. But what if, from the point of
view of decision making, such data has to be retrieved, how to retrieve data corresponding to
those items? To find such items, additional queries will be required to check the current item
balance with the item balance when the items where (say) brought into the store. So the biggest
disadvantage of this approach is key data is not recorded.
Step-3: A Fact-less Fact Table
"Fact -less" fact table
§  A fact table without numeric fact columns
Captures relationships between dimensions
Use a dummy fact column that always has value 1
The problem of not recording non-events is solved by using fact -less fact tables, as not recording
such information resulted in loss of data. Such a fact -less fact table is one which does not have
numeric values stored in the corresponding column, as such tables are used to capture the
relationships between dimensions. Fact less fact table captures the many-to-many relationships
between dimensions, but contains no numeric or textual facts. To achieve this dummy value of 1
is used in the corresponding column.
Step-3: Example: Fact-less Fact Tables
Department/Student mapping fact table
What is the major for each student?
Whi ch students did not enroll in ANY course
Promotion coverage fact table
Which products were on promotion in which stores for which days?
Kind of like a periodic snapshot fact
Some of the examples of fact -less fact tables. Consider the case of a department/student mapping
fact table. The data is recorded for each student who registers for a course, but there may be
students that do not register in any course. If data is useful from the point of view of identifying
those students which are skipping a semester. There is no direct or simple way to identify such
students, the solution is a fact -less fact table. Similarly which items on promotion are not selling,
as the sales records are for only those items that are sold.
Step-4: Handling Multi-valued Dimensions?
One of the following approaches is adopted:
Drop the dimension.
Use a primary value as a single value.
Add multiple values in the dimension table.
Use "Helper" tables.
For handling the exceptions in dimensions, designers adopt one of the following approaches:
Drop the Maintenance_Operation dimension as it is multi-valued.
Choose one value (as the "primary" maintenance) and omit the other values.
Extend the dimension list and add a fixed number of maintenance dimensions.
Put a helper table in between this fact table and the Maintenance dimension table.
Instead of ignoring the problem and dropping the dimension altogether, let's tackle the problem.
Usually the designers go for the second alternative, as a consequence this will show up as the
primary, or main maintenance operation. Such as 20,000 Km maintenance or 40,000 Km
maintenance. It is known what would constitute for each mileage based maintenance, and these
maintenance are also mutually exclusive i.e. single valued. In many cases , you may actually come
across this practice being observed in the OLTP systems. The obvious advantage is that the
modeling problem is resolved, but the disadvantage is that the usefulness of the data becomes
questionable. Why? Because with the passage of time or with new models of vehicles coming or
because of company policy, what constitutes service at 20,000 Km may actually change. Will
need meta data to resolve this issue.
The third alternative of creating a fixed number of additional columns in the dimension table is a
quick and dirty approach and should be avoided. There is likely to be car that may require more
changes then reflected in the table, or the company policy changes and more items fall under the
maintenance, and a long list will result i n many null entries for a typical car, especially new ones.
Furthermore, it is not easy to query the multiple separate maintenance dimensions and will result
in slow queries. Therefore, multiple dimensions style of design should be avoided.
The last alternative is usually adopted, and a "helper" table is placed between the Maintenance
dimension and the fact table, although this adulterates or dilutes the star schema. More details are
beyond the scope of this course.
Step-4: OLTP & Slowly Changing Dimensions
OLTP systems not good at tracking the past. History never changes.
OLTP systems are not "static" always evolving, data changing by overwriting.
Inability of OLTP systems to track history, purged after 90 to 180 days.
Actually don't want to keep historical data for OLTP system.
One major difference between an OLTP system and a data warehouse is the ability and the
responsibility to accurately describe the past. OLTP systems are usually very poor at correctly
representing a business as of a month or a year ago for several reasons as discussed before. A
good OLTP system is always evolving. Orders are being filled and, thus, the order backlog is
constantly changing. Descriptions of products, suppliers, and customers are constantly being
updated, usually by overwriting. The large volume of data in an OLTP system is typically purged
every 90 t o 180 days. For these reasons, it is difficult for an OLTP system to correctly represent
the past. In an OLTP system, do you really want to keep old order statuses, product descriptions,
supplier descriptions, and customer descriptions over a multiyear period?
Step-4: DWH Dilemma: Slowly Changing Dimensions
The responsibility of the DWH to track the changes.
Example: Slight change in description, but the prod uct ID (SKU) is not changed.
Dilemma: Want to track both old and new descriptions, what do they use for the key? And where
do they put the two values of the changed ingredient attribute?
The data warehouse must accept the responsibility of accurately describing the past. By doing so,
the data warehouse simplifies the responsibilities of the OLTP system. Not only does the data
warehouse relieve the OLTP system of almost all forms of reporting, but the data warehouse
contains special structures that have several ways of tracking historical data.
A dimensional data warehouse database consists of a large central fact table with a multipart key.
This fact table is surrounded by a single layer of smaller dimension tables, each containing a
single primary key. In a dimensional database, these issues of describing the past mostly involve
slowly changing dimensions. A typical slowly changing dimension is a product dimension in
which the detailed description of a given product is occasionally adjusted. For example, a minor
ingredient change or a minor packaging change may be so small that production does not assign
the product a new SKU number (which the data warehouse has been using as the primary key in
the product dimension), but nevertheless gives the data wa rehouse team a revised description of t
he product. The data warehouse team faces a dilemma when this happens. If they want the data
warehouse to track both the old and new descriptions of the product, what do they use for the
key? And where do they put the two values of the changed ingredient
Step-4: Explanation of Slowly Changing Dimensions...
Compared to fact tables, contents of dimension tables are relatively stable.
§  New sales transactions occur constantly.
§  New products are introduced rarely.
§  New stores are opened very rarely.
The assumption does not hold in some cases
§  Certain dimensions evolve with time
§  e.g. description and formulation of products change with time
§  Customers get married and divorced, have children, change addresses etc.
§  Land changes ownership etc.
§  Changing names of sales regions.
For example, a minor ingredient change or a minor packaging change may be so small that
production does not assign the product a new SKU number (which the data warehouse has been
using as the primary key in t he product dimension), but nevertheless gives the data warehouse
team a revised description of t he product. The data warehouse team faces a dilemma when this
happens. If they want the data warehouse to track both the old and new descriptions of the
product, what do they use for the key? And where do they put the two values of the changed
ingredient attribute?
Other common slowly changing dimensions are the district and region names for a sales force.
Every company that has a sales force reassigns these names every year or two. This is such a
common problem that this example is something of a joke in data ware housing classes. When the
teacher asks, "How many of your companies have changed the organization of your sales force
recently?" everyone raises their hands.
Step-4: Explanation of Slowly Changing Dimensions...
Although these dimensions change but the change is not rapid.
Therefore called "Slowly" Changing Dimensions
There can be many examples. For a young customer who is single, then after a w ile the
customer gets married. After sometime there are children, in unfortunate cases the marriage
breaks so the customer is separated or the husband dies and the customer becomes a widow. This
just does not typically happen overnight but takes a while. Another example is inheritance,
consider the example of land. Over a period of time the land changes hands, is split because of
inheritance or its size increases by buying. Again things don't happen overnight, but take a while,
hence slowly changing dimens ions.
Step-4: Handling Slowly Changing Dimensions
Option-1: Overwrite History
§  Example: Code for a city, product entered incorrectly
Just overwrite the record changing the values of modified attributes.
No keys are affected.
No changes needed elsewhere in the DM.
Cannot track history and hence not a good option in DSS.
The first technique is the simplest and fastest. But it doesn't maintain past history! Nevertheless,
overwriting is frequently used when the data warehouse team legitimately decides that the old
value of the changed dimension attribute is not interesting . For example, if you find incorrect
values in the city and state attributes in a customer record, then overwriting would almost
certainly be used. After the overwrite, certain old reports that depended on the city or state values
would not return exactly the same values. Most of us would argue that this is the correct outcome.
Step-4: Handling Slowly Changing Dimensions
Option-2: Preserve History
Example: The packaging of a part change from glued box to stapled box, but the
code assigned (SKU) is not changed.
Create an additional dimension record at the time of change with new attribute
Segments history accurately between old and new description
Requires adding two to three version numbers to the end of key. SKU#+1,
SKU#+2 etc.
Suppose you work in a manufacturing company and one of your main data warehouse schemas is
the company's shipments. The product dimension is one of the most important dimensions in this
dimensional schema. A typical product dimension would have several hundred detailed records,
each representing a unique product capable of being shipped. A good product dimension table
would have at least 50 attributes describing the products, including hierarchica l attributes such as
brand and category, as well as nonhierarchical attributes such as color and package type. An
important attribute provided by manufacturing operations is the SKU number assigned to the
product. You should start by using the SKU number as the key to the product dimension table.
Suppose that manufacturing operations makes a slight change in packaging of SKU #38, and the
packaging description changes from "glued box" to "pasted box." Along with this change,
manufacturing operations decides not to change the SKU number of the product, or the bar code
(UPC) that is printed on the box. If the data warehouse team decides to track this change, the best
way to do this is to issue another product record, as if the pasted box version were a brand new
product. The only difference between the two product records is the packaging description. Even
the SKU numbers are the same. The only way you can issue another record is if you generalize
the key to the product dimension table to be something more than the SKU number. A simple
technique is to use the SKU number plus two or three version digits. Thus the first instance of the
product key for a given SKU might be SKU# + 01. When, and if, another version is needed, it
becomes SKU# + 02, and so on. Notice that you should probably also park t he SKU number in a
separate dimension attribute (field) because you never want an application to be parsing the key
to extract the underlying SKU number. Note the separate SKU attribute in the Product dimension
in Figure 1.
This technique for tracking slowly changing dimensions is very powerful because new dimension
records automatically partition history in the fact table. The old version of the dimension record
points to all history in the fact table prior to the chang e. The new version of the dimension record
points to all history after the change. There is no need for a timestamp in the product table to
record the change. In fact, a timestamp in the dimension record may be meaningless because the
event of interest is t he actual use of the new product type in a shipment. This is best recorded by
a fact table record with the correct new product key.
Another advantage of this technique is that you can gracefully track as many changes to a
dimensional item as you wish. Each change generates a new dimension record, and each record
partitions history perfectly. The main drawbacks of the technique are the requirement to
generalize the dimension key, and the growth of the dimension table itself.
Step-4: Handling Slowly Changing Dimensions
Option-3: Create current valued field
Example: The name and organization of the sales regions change over time, and
want to know how sales would have looked with old regions.
Add a new field called current_region rename old to previous_region.
Sales record keys are not changed.
Only TWO most recent changes can be tracked.
Creating a Current Value Field
You use the third technique when you want to track a change in a dimension value, but it is
legitimate to use the old value both before and after the change. This situation occurs most often
in the infamous sales force realignments, where although you have changed the names of your
sales regions, you still have a need to state today's sales in terms of yesterday's region names, just
to "see how they would have done" using the old organization. You can attack this requirement,
not by creating a new dimension record as in the second technique, but by creating a new "current
value" field. Suppose in a sales team dimension table, where the records represent sales teams,
you have a field called "region." When you decide to rearrange the sales force and assign each
team to newly named regions, you create a new field in the sales dimension table called
"current_region." You should probably rena me the old field "previous_region." No alterations are
made to the sales dimension record keys or to the number of sales team records. These two fields
now allow an application to group all sales fact records by either the old sales assignments
(previous region) or the new sales assignments (current region). This schema allows only the
most recent sales force change to be tracked, but it offers the immense flexibility of being able to
state all of the history by either of the two sales force assignment sche mas. It is conceivable,
although somewhat awkward, to generalize this approach to the two most recent changes. If many
of these sales force realignments take place and it is desired to track them all, then the second
technique should probably be used.
S tep-4: Pros and Cons of Handling
Option-1: Overwrite existing value
+  Simple to implement
+  No tracking of history
Option-2: Add a new dimension row
+  Accurate historical reporting
+  Pre-computed aggregates unaffected
+  Dimension table grows over time
Option-3: Add a new field
+  Accurate historical reporting to last TWO changes
+  Record keys are unaffected
+  Dimension table size increases
There are number of ways of handling slowly changing dimensions. Some of the methods are
simple, but not desirable; but all have their own pros and cons. The simplest possible "solution" is
to overwrite history. If the customer was earlier single, and gets married, just change his/here
status from single to married. Very simple to implement, but not desirable, as a DWH is about
recording historical data, and by virtue of overwriting, the historical data is destroyed. Another
option is to add a row when the dimension changes, the obvious benefit is that history is not lost,
but over the period of time the dimension table will grow as new rows are added corresponding to
the changes in the dimensions. The third, rather desirable approach is to add an additional
column, that does increase the table size, but the increase is not non -deterministic. The column
records the last two changes, if the dimension changes more than twice, then historical data is
Step-4: Junk Dimension
Sometimes certain attributes don't fit nicely into any dimension
§  Payment method (Cash vs. Credit Card vs. Check)
§  Bagging type (Paper vs. Plastic vs. None)
Create one or more "mix" dimensions
§  Group together leftover attributes as a dimension even if not related
§  Reduces number of dimension tables, width of fact table
§  Works best if leftover attributes are
§  Few in number
§  Low in cardinality
§  Correlated
Other options
§  Each leftover attribute becomes a dimension
§  Eliminate leftover attributes that are not useful
A junk dimension is a collection of random transactional codes, flags and/or text attributes that
are unrelated to any particular dimension. The junk dimension is simply a structure that provides
a convenient place to store the junk attributes. A good example would be a trade fact in a
company that brokers equity trades.
The need for junk dimensions arises when we are considering single level hierarchies. The only
problem with the single level hierarchies is that you may have a lot of them in any given
dimensional model. Ideally, the concatenated primary key of a fact table should consist of fewer
than 10 foreign keys. Sometimes, if all of the yes/no flags are r presented as single level
hierarchy dimensions, you may end up with 30 or more. Obviously, this is an overly complex
A technique that allows reduction of the number of foreign keys in a fact table is the creation of
"junk" dimensions. These are just "made up" dimensions where you can put several of these
single level hierarchies. This cuts down the number of foreign keys in the fact table dramatically.
As to the number of flags before creating a junk dimension, if there are more than 15 dimensions,
where five or more are single level hierarchies, I start seriously thinking about combining them
into one or more junk dimensions. One should not indiscriminately combine 20 or 30 or 80 single
level hierarchies.
Table of Contents:
  1. Need of Data Warehousing
  2. Why a DWH, Warehousing
  3. The Basic Concept of Data Warehousing
  4. Classical SDLC and DWH SDLC, CLDS, Online Transaction Processing
  5. Types of Data Warehouses: Financial, Telecommunication, Insurance, Human Resource
  6. Normalization: Anomalies, 1NF, 2NF, INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE
  7. De-Normalization: Balance between Normalization and De-Normalization
  8. DeNormalization Techniques: Splitting Tables, Horizontal splitting, Vertical Splitting, Pre-Joining Tables, Adding Redundant Columns, Derived Attributes
  9. Issues of De-Normalization: Storage, Performance, Maintenance, Ease-of-use
  10. Online Analytical Processing OLAP: DWH and OLAP, OLTP
  11. OLAP Implementations: MOLAP, ROLAP, HOLAP, DOLAP
  12. ROLAP: Relational Database, ROLAP cube, Issues
  13. Dimensional Modeling DM: ER modeling, The Paradox, ER vs. DM,
  14. Process of Dimensional Modeling: Four Step: Choose Business Process, Grain, Facts, Dimensions
  15. Issues of Dimensional Modeling: Additive vs Non-Additive facts, Classification of Aggregation Functions
  16. Extract Transform Load ETL: ETL Cycle, Processing, Data Extraction, Data Transformation
  17. Issues of ETL: Diversity in source systems and platforms
  18. Issues of ETL: legacy data, Web scrapping, data quality, ETL vs ELT
  19. ETL Detail: Data Cleansing: data scrubbing, Dirty Data, Lexical Errors, Irregularities, Integrity Constraint Violation, Duplication
  20. Data Duplication Elimination and BSN Method: Record linkage, Merge, purge, Entity reconciliation, List washing and data cleansing
  21. Introduction to Data Quality Management: Intrinsic, Realistic, Orr’s Laws of Data Quality, TQM
  22. DQM: Quantifying Data Quality: Free-of-error, Completeness, Consistency, Ratios
  23. Total DQM: TDQM in a DWH, Data Quality Management Process
  24. Need for Speed: Parallelism: Scalability, Terminology, Parallelization OLTP Vs DSS
  25. Need for Speed: Hardware Techniques: Data Parallelism Concept
  26. Conventional Indexing Techniques: Concept, Goals, Dense Index, Sparse Index
  27. Special Indexing Techniques: Inverted, Bit map, Cluster, Join indexes
  28. Join Techniques: Nested loop, Sort Merge, Hash based join
  29. Data mining (DM): Knowledge Discovery in Databases KDD
  31. Data Structures, types of Data Mining, Min-Max Distance, One-way, K-Means Clustering
  32. DWH Lifecycle: Data-Driven, Goal-Driven, User-Driven Methodologies
  33. DWH Implementation: Goal Driven Approach
  34. DWH Implementation: Goal Driven Approach
  35. DWH Life Cycle: Pitfalls, Mistakes, Tips
  36. Course Project
  37. Contents of Project Reports
  38. Case Study: Agri-Data Warehouse
  39. Web Warehousing: Drawbacks of traditional web sear ches, web search, Web traffic record: Log files
  40. Web Warehousing: Issues, Time-contiguous Log Entries, Transient Cookies, SSL, session ID Ping-pong, Persistent Cookies
  41. Data Transfer Service (DTS)
  42. Lab Data Set: Multi -Campus University
  43. Extracting Data Using Wizard
  44. Data Profiling