How to Tame a Very Large ER Diagram (Using Link Analysis and Force-Directed Drawing Algorithms)

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Abstract

Understanding a large schema without the assistance of persons already familiar with it (and its associated applications), is a hard and very time consuming task that occurs very frequently in reverse engineering and in information integration. In this paper we describe a novel method that can aid the understanding and the visualization of very large ER diagrams that is inspired by the link analysis techniques that are used in Web Searching. Specifically, this method takes as input an ER diagram and returns a smaller (top-k) diagram that consists of the major entity and relationship types of the initial diagram. Concerning the drawing of the resulting top-k graphs in the 2D space, we propose a force-directed placement algorithm especially adapted for ER diagrams. Specifically, we describe and analyze experimentally two different force models and various configurations. The experimental evaluation on large diagrams of real world applications proved the effectiveness of this technique.