Data Modeling – Column Data Classification

Data Modeling, Column Data Classification, Field Data Classification
Data Modeling


Column Data Classification

When analyzing individual column data, at its most foundational level, column data can be classified by their fundamental use/characteristics.  Granted, when you start rolling up the structure into multiple columns, table structure and table relationship, then other classifications/behaviors, such as keys (primary and foreign), indexes, and distribution come into play.  However, many times when working with existing data sets it is essential to understand the nature the existing data to begin the modeling and information governance process.

Column Data Classification

Generally, individual columns can be classified into the classifications:

  • Identifier — A column/field which is unique to a row and/or can identify related data (e.g., Person ID, National identifier, ). Basically, think primary key and/or foreign key.
  • Indicator — A column/field, often called a Flag, that has a binary condition (e.g., True or False, Yes or No, Female or Male, Active or Inactive). Frequently used to identify compliance with complex with a specific business rule.
  • Code — A column/field that has a distinct and defined set of values, often abbreviated (e.g., State Code, Currency Code)
  • Temporal — A column/field that contains some type date, timestamp, time, interval, or numeric duration data
  • Quantity — A column/field that contains a numeric value (decimals, integers, etc.) and is not classified as an Identifier or Code (e.g., Price, Amount, Asset Value, Count)
  • Text — A column/field that contains alphanumeric values, possibly long text, and is not classified as an Identifier or Code (e.g., Name, Address, Long Description, Short Description)
  • Large Object (LOB)– A column/field that contains data traditional long text fields or binary data like graphics. The large objects can be broadly classified as Character Large Objects (CLOBs), Binary Large Objects (BLOBs), and Double-Byte Character Large Object (DBCLOB or NCLOB).

Related References

What is a Common Data Model (CDM)?

Data Model, Common Data Model, CDM, What is a Common Data Model (CDM)
Data Model


What is a Common Data Model (CDM)?


A Common Data Model (CDM) is a share data structure designed to provide well-formed and standardized data structures within an industry (e.g. medical, Insurance, etc.) or business channel (e.g. Human resource management, Asset Management, etc.), which can be applied to provide organizations a consistent unified view of business information.   These common models can be leveraged as accelerators by organizations form the foundation for their information, including SOA interchanges, Mashup, data vitalization, Enterprise Data Model (EDM), business intelligence (BI), and/or to standardize their data models to improve meta data management and data integration practices.

Related references

IBM, IBM Analytics

IBM Analytics, Technology, Database Management, Data Warehousing, Industry Models

Observational Health Data Sciences and Informatics (OHDSI)/Common Data Model


Oracle Technology Network, Database, More Key Features, Utilities Data Model


Industries, Communications, Service Providers, Products, Data Mode, Oracle Communications Data Model


Oracle Technology Network, Database, More Key Features, Airline data Model


Netezza / PureData – How to add a Foreign Key

DDL (Data Definition Language), Netezza PureData How to add a Foreign Key
DDL (Data Definition Language)

Adding a forging key to tables in Netezza / PureData is a best practice; especially, when working with dimensionally modeled data warehouse structures and with modern governance, integration (including virtualization), presentation semantics (including reporting, business intelligence and analytics).

Foreign Key (FK) Guidelines

  • A primary key must be defined on the table and fields (or fields) to which you intend to link the foreign key
  • Avoid using distribution keys as foreign keys
  • Foreign Key field should not be nullable
  • Your foreign key link field(s) must be of the same format(s) (e.g. integer to integer, etc.)
  • Apply standard naming conventions to constraint name:
    • FK_<<Constraint_Name>>_<<Number>>
    • <<Constraint_Name>>_FK<<Number>>
  • Please note that foreign key constraints are not enforced in Netezza

Steps to add a Foreign Key

The process for adding foreign keys involves just a few steps:

  • Verify guidelines above
  • Alter table add constraint SQL command
  • Run statistics, which is optional, but strongly recommended

Basic Foreign Key SQL Command Structure

Here is the basic syntax for adding Foreign key:


ADD CONSTRAINT <<Constraint_Name>>_fk<Number>>

FOREIGN KEY (<<Field_Name or Field_Name List>>) REFERENCES <<Owner>>.<<target_FK_Table_Name>.(<<Field_Name or Field_Name List>>) <<On Update | On Delete>> action;

Example Foreign Key SQL Command

This is a simple one field example of the foreign key (FK)


ALTER TABLE Blog.job_stage_fact

ADD CONSTRAINT job_stage_fact_host_dim_fk1

FOREIGN KEY (hostid) REFERENCES Blog.host_dim(hostid) ON DELETE cascade ON UPDATE no action;

Related References

Alter Table

PureData System for Analytics, PureData System for Analytics 7.2.1, IBM Netezza database user documentation, Netezza SQL command reference, Alter Table, constraints



Database – What is a foreign key?

Acronyms, Abbreviations, Terms, And Definitions, DDL (Data Definition Language), What is a foreign key
Acronyms, Abbreviations, Terms, And Definitions

Definition of a Foreign Key

  • A foreign Key (FK) is a constraint that references the unique primary key (PK) of another table.

Facts About Foreign Keys

  • Foreign Keys act as a cross-reference between tables linking the foreign key (Child record) to the Primary key (parent record) of another table, which establishing a link/relationship between the table keys
  • Foreign keys are not enforced by all RDBMS
  • The concept of referential integrity is derived from foreign key theory
  • Because Foreign keys involve more than one table relationship, their implementation can be more complex than primary keys
  • A foreign-key constraint implicitly defines an index on the foreign-key column(s) in the child table, however, manually defining a matching index may improve join performance in some database
  • The SQL, normally, provides the following referential integrity actions for deletions, when enforcing foreign-keys


  • The deletion of a parent (primary key) record may cause the deletion of corresponding foreign-key records.

No Action

  • Forbids the deletion of a parent (primary key) record, if there are dependent foreign-key records.   No Action does not mean to suppress the foreign-key constraint.

Set null

  • The deletion of a parent (primary key) record causes the corresponding foreign-key to be set to null.

Set default

  • The deletion of a record causes the corresponding foreign-keys be set to a default value instead of null upon deletion of a parent (primary key) record

Related References


Database – What is a Primary Key?

Database Table
Database Table

What is a primary Key?

What a primary key is depends, somewhat, on the database.  However, in its simplest form a primary key:

  • Is a field (Column) or combination of Fields (columns) which uniquely identifies every row.
  • Is an index in database systems which use indexes for optimization
  • Is a type of table constraint
  • Is applied with a data definition language (DDL) alter command
  • And, depending on the data model can, define parent-Child relationship between tables

Related References

Data Modeling – Fact Table Effective Practices

Database Table
Database Table

Here are a few guidelines for modeling and designing fact tables.

Fact Table Effective Practices

  • The table naming convention should identify it as a fact table. For example:
    • Suffix Pattern:
      • <<TableName>>_Fact
      • <<TableName>>_F
    • Prefix Pattern:
      • FACT_<TableName>>
      • F_<TableName>>
    • Must contain a temporal dimension surrogate key (e.g. date dimension)
    • Measures should be nullable – this has an impact on aggregate functions (SUM, COUNT, MIN, MAX, and AVG, etc.)
    • Dimension Surrogate keys (srky) should have a foreign key (FK) constraint
    • Do not place the dimension processing in the fact jobs

Related References

Data Modeling – Dimension Table Effective Practices

Database Table
Database Table

I’ve had these notes laying around for a while, so, I thought I consolidate them here.   So, here are few guidelines to ensure the quality of your dimension table structures.

Dimension Table Effective Practices

  • The table naming convention should identify it as a dimension table. For example:
    • Suffix Pattern:
      • <<TableName>>_Dim
      • <<TableName>>_D
    • Prefix Pattern:
      • Dim_<TableName>>
      • D_<TableName>>
  • Have Primary Key (PK) assigned on table surrogate Key
  • Audit fields – Type 1 dimensions should:
    • Have a Created Date timestamp – When the record was initially created
    • have a Last Update Timestamp – When was the record last updated
  • Job Flow: Do not place the dimension processing in the fact jobs.
  • Every Dimension should have a Zero (0), Unknown, row
  • Fields should be ‘NOT NULL’ replacing nulls with a zero (0) numeric and integer type fields or space ( ‘ ‘ ) for Character type files.
  • Keep dimension processing outside of the fact jobs

Related References