A Mathematical Programming Approach to Quantify Structural Complexity of a Conceptual Model

Tauqeer Hussain


Entity-Relationship model, Structural complexity, Analytic hierarchy process (AHP)


Structural complexity is one of the characteristics that determine the quality of a conceptual model. Various attributes have been identified in research as measures of structural complexity. The research however lacks in devising a methodology that can use these measures to quantify structural complexity of a given model to a numeric value. In the absence of such an approach, it is not possible, at least quantitatively, to compare the quality of two given models for the same problem. In this research, we propose a methodology that can be applied to quantify the structural complexity of any type of conceptual model. We have modeled it as a multi-criteria decision problem which is solved in two stages. In the first stage, analytic hierarchy process (AHP) is applied whereas, in the second stage, an optimization technique namely goal programming is used. Using this approach, structural complexity of a conceptual model can be determined numerically. As a result, it also solves the bigger problem which is to compare two conceptual models to identify the one with better quality. We also present an example to demonstrate application of our proposed methodology to one type of conceptual models namely entity-relationship (ER) diagrams.

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