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Online Analytical Processing Cube (OLAP Cube)

Definition - What does Online Analytical Processing Cube (OLAP Cube) mean?

An online analytical processing cube (OLAP cube) is a multidimensional array of data that serves as a database optimized for OLAP applications and data warehousing. It is a way of storing relevant data in a multidimensional form to make it appear more logical when used to generate reports and facilitate more efficient analytics.

Techopedia explains Online Analytical Processing Cube (OLAP Cube)

An OLAP cube stores and categorizes data as dimensions and is considered in terms of "measures." Picture a Cartesian plane with three axes (x, y and z), and each axis notch signifies a given measure, with each axis being a data category. These cubes are pre-summarized across each dimension, which vastly improves query time in relational databases.

Microsoft's multidimensional expressions (MDX) language is used to interact with and command OLAP cubes.

Unlike traditional databases, which are designed according to system requirements, OLAP cubes are developed with business logic for business intelligence (BI) and, thus, are optimized for analytical processes with the ability to report on multiple records simultaneously.

Advantages to OLAP cubes include the following:

  • May have more than three dimensions - virtually infinite - resulting in a hypercube, which allows in-depth data analysis
  • Enables multifaceted data analysis of complex and large volumes of data in response to complex business queries
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