Implementing Complex Relationships

J. Dullea and A. Ravella (USA)


Complex Relationships, Entity-Relationship Diagramming, Data Modeling, Related Relationships, Constraining Relationship


The concept of complex relationships in information modeling have been confined to a very few authors in the information management and software engineering literature. This concept is important to information and application modeling as it enriches the information communicated from the designer to the implementer; it shows the necessity of coding the constraints imposed by the association between two related relationships in the data model. Without a quick visual of the concept in a diagram, these concepts need to be communicated via cumbersome and sometimes ambiguous documentation. The current literature studies in depth the structural constraints between unary, binary and ternary relationships, proposes rules for complex relationships and develop implementation strategies that should be used by the implementation community to enrich the design with the goal of avoiding the ambiguously written documentation that sometimes lacks the granularity of detail necessary to fully explain the concept. The literature is sparse in two areas: the implementation of these constructs and the investigation of a constraining relationship existing between a unary (or recursive) relationship imposed on a binary relationship. This paper proposes to study these two areas in depth.

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