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Entity-Relationship Diagram (ERD)

Definition - What does Entity-Relationship Diagram (ERD) mean?

An entity-relationship diagram (ERD) is a data modeling technique that graphically illustrates an information system’s entities and the relationships between those entities. An ERD is a conceptual and representational model of data used to represent the entity framework infrastructure.

The elements of an ERD are:

  • Entities
  • Relationships
  • Attributes

Steps involved in creating an ERD include:

  1. Identifying and defining the entities
  2. Determining all interactions between the entities
  3. Analyzing the nature of interactions/determining the cardinality of the relationships
  4. Creating the ERD

Techopedia explains Entity-Relationship Diagram (ERD)

An entity-relationship diagram (ERD) is crucial to creating a good database design. It is used as a high-level logical data model, which is useful in developing a conceptual design for databases.

An entity is a real-world item or concept that exists on its own. Entities are equivalent to database tables in a relational database, with each row of the table representing an instance of that entity.

An attribute of an entity is a particular property that describes the entity. A relationship is the association that describes the interaction between entities. Cardinality, in the context of ERD, is the number of instances of one entity that can, or must, be associated with each instance of another entity. In general, there may be one-to-one, one-to-many, or many-to-many relationships.

For example, let us consider two real-world entities, an employee and his department. An employee has attributes such as an employee number, name, department number, etc. Similarly, department number and name can be defined as attributes of a department. A department can interact with many employees, but an employee can belong to only one department, hence there can be a one-to-many relationship, defined between department and employee.

In the actual database, the employee table will have department number as a foreign key, referencing from department table, to enforce the relationship.

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