::Dimension (data warehouse)


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A dimension is a structure that categorizes facts and measures in order to enable users to answer business questions. Commonly used dimensions are people, products, place and time.<ref>"Oracle Data Warehousing Guide", Oracle Corporation, retrieved 09 June 2014</ref><ref>Definition: Dimension" Search Data Management, TechTarget, retrieved 09 June 2014</ref>

In a data warehouse, dimensions provide structured labeling information to otherwise unordered numeric measures. The dimension is a data set composed of individual, non-overlapping data elements. The primary functions of dimensions are threefold: to provide filtering, grouping and labelling.

These functions are often described as "slice and dice". Slicing refers to filtering data. Dicing refers to grouping data. A common data warehouse example involves sales as the measure, with customer and product as dimensions. In each sale a customer buys a product. The data can be sliced by removing all customers except for a group under study, and then diced by grouping by product.

A dimensional data element is similar to a categorical variable in statistics.

Typically dimensions in a data warehouse are organized internally into one or more hierarchies. "Date" is a common dimension, with several possible hierarchies:

  • "Days (are grouped into) Months (which are grouped into) Years",
  • "Days (are grouped into) Weeks (which are grouped into) Years"
  • "Days (are grouped into) Months (which are grouped into) Quarters (which are grouped into) Years"
  • etc.

Dimension (data warehouse) sections
Intro  Types  Use of ISO representation terms  Common patterns  See also  References