An Education in Notation

by Brian B
The article I chose this week is entitled “Notation Usage in Data Modeling Education” by Michael Mannino. The article starts off by saying that there has never been a true standard of notation in the data modeling field. There have been attempts in the past, but none of them have ever gained wide usage throughout the industry.  He talks about the fact that there is a wide variety of notation styles which has been increased with the differences in textbooks and the CASE Tools used in the industry. The author believes that creating a standard now would be difficult because of the current “diversity” in modeling notation. The author says that students should be taught both ERD and UML, however they should be taught in separate classes. The article goes on to talk about ways to instruct students in subject matter such as design errors or advancing their knowledge in data modeling. He finishes the article off by saying that “These guidelines are just building blocks to develop data modeling skills. (Mannino, Spring 2006)” He then offers some ideas on how data modeling education can be advanced. One way he suggests is that students be given real world examples of data modeling to actually prepare them for what is in store for them in their field of work.

This article is related to this week’s topic because it deals with data modeling and the notation used when creating a data model. I found it pretty interesting because it talked about how there are a lot of different types of data model notation which vary slightly from one to another because there was never a set standard in place. It made me realize how important it is to be very clear when you use notation. So that other people will know which notation you used and will be able to work with your data model if they have to change or fix something in the model.

I can see how having so many notation styles can create a problem for students when they enter into the work force and have to learn different variations of notation to work at a company and use the tools that they give you. While I haven’t had to deal with this yet, I’m sure that I’ll have to deal with this eventually.

Mannino, M. (Spring 2006). Notation Usage in Data Modeling Education. Jorunal of Information Systems Education, 27-28.

2 thoughts on “An Education in Notation

  • October 14, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    I agree with the author that we should have a standard notation for ER model because I learned ER model in my accounting class and it is different from what I learned in this class. Different notation but with the same meaning. If they have used the “standard” notation, I don’t have to re-learned it again. Same thing with the article I read this week, the author uses a different notation in the design. If I want to know what it means, I have to look up the notation.

  • October 14, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    I strongly agree. There should be a standard notation to make things simple and clear. Standardization doesn’t mean boring. Database and ER models are already complicated, why make them even harder.

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