OLAP (On-Line Analytical Processing) tools support the decision-making process by giving users the possibility to dynamically analyze high volumes of historical data using operations such as roll-up and drill-down. These operations need well-defined hierarchies in order to prepare automatic calculations. However, many kinds of complex hierarchies arising in real-world situations are not addressed by current OLAP implementations. Based on an analysis of real-world applications and scientific works related to multidimensional modeling, this paper presents a conceptual classification of hierarchies and proposes graphical notations for them based on the ER model. A conceptual representation of hierarchies allows the designer to properly represent users requirements in multidimensional modeling and offers a common vision of these hierarchies for conceptual modeling and OLAP tools implementers.
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