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5 Multidimensional analysis techniques

Multidimensional analysis has become a popular way to extend the capabilities
of query and reporting. That is, rather than submitting multiple queries, data is
structured to enable fast and easy access to answers to the questions that users
typically ask. For example, the data would be structured to include answers to
the question, "How much of each of our products was sold on a particular day, by
a particular salesperson, in a particular store?" Each separate part of that query
is called a dimension. By precalculating answers to each subquery within the
larger context, many answers can be readily available because the results have
been precalculated for each query; they are simply accessed and displayed. For
example, by having the results to the above query, one would automatically have
the answer to any of the subqueries. That is, we would already know the answer
to the subquery, "How much of a particular product was sold by a particular
salesperson?" Having the data categorized by these different factors, or
dimensions, makes it easier to understand, particularly by business-oriented
users of the data. Dimensions can have individual entities, or a hierarchy of
entities, such as region, store, and department.
Multidimensional analysis enables users to look at a large number of
interdependent factors involved in a business problem and to view the data in
complex relationships. Users are interested in exploring the data at different
levels of detail, which is determined dynamically. The complex relationships can
be analyzed through an iterative process that includes drilling down to lower
levels of detail or rolling up to higher levels of summarization and aggregation.
Figure 4-7 on page 87 demonstrates that the user can start by viewing the total
sales for the organization, then drill-down to view the sales by continent, region,
country, and finally by customer. Or, the user could start at customer and roll-up
through the different levels to finally reach total sales. Pivoting in the data can
also be used. This is a data analysis operation where the user takes a different
viewpoint than is typical on the results of the analysis, changing the way the
dimensions are arranged in the result. Like query and reporting, multidimensional
analysis continues until no more drilling down or rolling up is performed.


Dimensional Modeling: In a Business Intelligence Environment

Figure 4-7 Drill-down and roll-up analysis

Multidimensional analysis enables you to look at the business problem by large

number of interdependent factors describing the matter. In other words,
multidimensional analysis enables you to view the information at different levels
of detail or to analyze complex relationships.
The following are multidimensional techniques that we discuss in more detail:

Slice and dice

Drill-down, drill-up, and drill-across
Roll-down and roll-up

4.5.1 Slice and dice

We start by discussing slice and dice analysis as individual activities.

The term slice in multidimensional terminology is used to define a member or a
group of members that are separated (from ALL other dimensions) and then
evaluated across all the dimensions. A member of a dimension means a value
inside a column. Slicing is slightly difficult to understand on a two-dimensional
paper. In order to understand the slicing concept, consider a dimensional model
example. Assume that we have only three dimensions named product, store,
and date in a simple dimensional model. In this simple dimensional model, we
just have one fact table with a fact called sales.

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Assume that we isolate three members from the product dimension. The three
members we isolated for the product dimension are soda, milk, and juice. This is
shown in Figure 4-8. If we measure the SUM of sales quantity for ALL stores and
for ALL dates across one or more members of one dimension (product in our
case), then this concept is called slicing. The arrow in Figure 4-8 shows that the
sum is across all dates and all stores.
This slice of the product dimension lets us to select our concerned members
(soda, milk, and juice) from the product dimension. The slicing of the members
allows us to focus only on these three members across all other dimensions.
This concept is called slicing.
(For ALL Stores and Dates)

Sales in USD

Figure 4-8 Slice for product

The slice in Figure 4-8 shows that soda generates the smallest sales amount,
milk second, and juice third.
Note: When you slice, you choose one or more members of a dimension and
consolidate (or summarize) across all other dimensions (in our example, the
other dimensions were store and date.)

The dicing concept means that you put multiple members from a dimension on
an axis and then put multiple members from a different dimension on another
axis. This allows you to view the interrelationship of members from different

Dicing is analysis of interrelationships among different dimensions or their

members. Figure 4-9 on page 89 and Figure 4-10 on page 89 show examples of
In Figure 4-9 on page 89, we see multiple members listed vertically for the store
dimension in one axis. These members are CA, OR, and LA. Similarly, we have
multiple members for the date dimension which are listed horizontally. We are
able to view the interrelationship of members from different dimensions. In other


Dimensional Modeling: In a Business Intelligence Environment

words, we are able to see the relationship between CA and dates 1/1/2005,
1/2/2005, 1/3/2005, and vice versa.

Figure 4-9 Dice for store and date

Another example of dicing is shown in Figure 4-10.


Figure 4-10 Dice of store and product dimension

In this example, we can see the interrelationship between the members of the
store and product dimensions. Here we analyze:
How each store contributes to total sales amounts for each product (Soda,
Milk, and Juice).
How a particular product contributes to total sales for each store location.
Note: You dice when you choose one or more members of same dimension
on one axis and on the other axis you choose a member or members from
another dimension. Now you can analyze interrelationships of those

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4.5.2 Pivoting
Pivoting in multidimensional modeling means exchanging rows with columns
and vice versa. Figure 4-11 on page 90 shows an example of pivoting. We
exchange the store rows with columns of the product dimension members. It is
simply a quick way to view the same data from a different perspective.






Figure 4-11 Pivoting

Note: You pivot when you exchange the axes of the report.

4.5.3 Drill-down and drill-up

Drilling in multidimensional terminology means going from one hierarchy level to
another. In other words, drill-down can be defined as the capability to browse
through information, following a hierarchical structure.
In the example shown in Figure 4-12 on page 91, we show drilling down through
a simple three level hierarchy present in the product dimension. The hierarchy is


Dimensional Modeling: In a Business Intelligence Environment

Group Class Group Product. When we drill-down the Group Class

attribute, we reach the Group. Finally by drilling down on the Group attribute, we
reach the lowest detail present inside the product dimension (which is the
individual product) as shown in Figure 4-12 on page 91.


Beverage ->Group

Beverage ->Group -> Pop



Figure 4-12 Drill-down on product dimension

Note: We consider drilling up and drilling down when we want to analyze the
subject at different levels of detail. Drilling is possible if a dimension contains a
multiple level hierarchy.
Another example of drill-down is shown in Figure 4-13 on page 92. Here we drill
down from total sales in the US to sales at a particular store in Buffalo.

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Figure 4-13 Drill-down example

Drill-up is exactly the opposite of drill-down.

4.5.4 Drill-across
Drill-across is a method where you drill from one dimension to another. You must
define the drill-across path. This function is often used in ROLAP. In Figure 4-14,
you see the result of drill-across from store CA to the product dimension. The first
chart depicts the sales in stores in three different states. And, in particular, we
have focused on CA (California).





Figure 4-14 Drill-across result


Dimensional Modeling: In a Business Intelligence Environment

By drilling across to the product dimension, we can see the details about which
products comprised the sales for the store CA.

4.5.5 Roll-down and Roll-up

Roll-down and roll-up are OLAP functions that give the higher or lower aggregate
over whole dimension at a given hierarchy level.
In the example in Figure 4-15, we roll-down the product dimension from level 3,
to level 2, and to level 1. This is done through the product hierarchy level: Group
class Group Product.
The roll-down concept is the same as a drill-down.




Figure 4-15 Roll-down, Roll-up

Roll-up is exactly opposite to roll-down. The arrows in Figure 4-15 show the roll
directions. The roll-up concept is the same as drill-up.

Chapter 4. Data analysis techniques