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An Isa relationship is used where one entity is a generalization of several more specialized entities. Figure 13 on page 41 shows an example of supertype and subtype. In the figure, SALES OUTLET is the supertype of RETAIL STORE and CORPORATE SALES OFFICE. And, RETAIL STORE and CORPORATE SALES OFFICE are subtypes of SALES OUTLET. The notation of supertype and subtype is Chapter 6. Data Modeling for a Data Warehouse 39 represented by a triangle on the relationship. This notation is used by the IBM DataAtlas product.

Each choice has its considerations. Through supertyping and subtyping, a very flexible data model can be implemented. Subtyping also makes the relationship clear. For example, suppose that we have a SALESPERSON entity and only corporate sales offices can officially have a salesperson. Without subtyping of SALES OUTLET into CORPORATE SALES OFFICE and RETAIL STORE, there is no way to express the constraints explicitly using ER notations. Sometimes inappropriate use of supertyping and/or subtyping in ER modeling can cause problems.

Detailed raw data is the lowest level of detailed transaction data without any aggregation and summarization. At this level, the data volume could be extremely large. It may actually have to be on a separate storage medium such as magnetic tape or an optical disk device when it is not being used. The data could be loaded to disk for easy and faster access only during those times when it is required. Summarized data is transaction data aggregated at the level required for the most typically used queries.

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