Requirements Engineering

, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 217–228 | Cite as

Hierarchical entity-relationship diagrams: the model, method of creation and experimental evaluation

  • Peretz ShovalEmail author
  • Revital Danoch
  • Mira Balabam
Original Article


A bottom-up method for creating a hierarchy of entity-relationship diagrams (HERD) from a given, “flat” ER diagram (ERD) is proposed. The hierarchy consists of simple and interrelated diagrams—ER structures—with external relationships to other structures. The HERD-tree diagram, which provides the most general view of the conceptual schema, is located at the top of the hierarchy. The method is based on packaging operations, which group entities and relationships according to certain criteria. These operations are applied in several steps on a given (presumably large-scale) ERD. We describe the new constructs, which are added to the ER model to enable the creation of HERD, and a bottom-up method for creating HERD. We also evaluate HERD from the point of view of user comprehension and preference, based on an experimental comparison to flat ERDs.


Conceptual schema Data modeling Entity relationship model ER diagram Experimental evaluation User comprehension of data model 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Information Systems Engineering Ben-Gurion University of the NegevBeer-ShevaIsrael

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