Entity Modelling — An Introductory Perspective
According to Jonathan Culler1,
Saussure, founding modern linguistics in the early part of the 20th century, addressed
a question regarding systematically
coming to terms with a complex world with a reply
that included the view that
you cannot hope to attain an absolute or God-like view of things but must choose a
... within this perspective objects are defined by their relations with one another
rather than by essences of some kind.
This summary perfectly frames entity modelling — entity modelling takes this view
to the extreme.
The nub of this chapter is that entity modelling is a new spin on an ancient discipline.
The subject is technical but metaphysics and the concept of concept lurk
in the background and give perspective.
An entity model may simply handwave a set of concepts or it may be more detailed;
sufficiently and appropriately detailed entity models, we call them physical entity
pretty much the same thing as
Information System's data models and hence data modelling, at least as written of
here, is a special case of entity modelling.
We try to approach it from first principles and sometimes, take heed, this requires
terminological deviation from the norm.
In this chapter we start out by making the case that an entity model provides
and that because entity modelling is a practical discipline used in engineering systems
and yet is concerned with all manner of describable things it involves a
Entity models cover specific areas, chosen perspectives, in the words of Culler, which
in other contexts might be described as
and within these perspectives the main focus of an entity model is on the
The view of entity modelling which we present reveals
a specific recurring pattern in conceptual thought which we describe in the section
and in which we can recognise the philosophical concept of
which is functionally reincarnated, so to speak, in the table DUAL familar to Oracle
We borrow from the language of Gilbert Ryle, to argue that entity modelling is an
aid to logical analysis and assists avoidance of
Finally, we present some thoughts about the foundations of data modelling in
and some historical notes in a section on
- types of things— the deliberation of which is of course a concern with a long history.