When analyzing large sets of data, its useful to understand what dimensions, attributes, and hierarchies are, as they will empower you to do a better use of your analytics software. If you are using something like Google Analytics or Tableau, understanding these concepts will help you immensely.

What are dimensions?

Dimensions are ways of revealing information in a measurement. For example, a dimension might be the classification of the type of product sold, the location, or the salesman responsible for the sale.

In data, there is a connection between dimensions and measurement. A measurement, for example, could be dollar sales or quantity of items sold. This is called a key, and it connects dimensions and measurements, an example could be a product code. This allows us to view in-depth any product in our database, making these massive amounts of information useful.

What are attributes?

Attributes are the actual adjective describing the product or element in the database inside each dimension. For example, in the type of product, it could be soda, cookies, or handwash.

Dimensions, attributes, and hierarchies in an excel table
Dimensions, attributes, and hierarchies in an excel table

What are hierarchies?

Hierarchy comes from relationships between attributes in the data. They can be one on one, one too many, or many to many.

  • One to one: Refers to one each side of the relationship has only one match. For example, a unique id card for an employer or your social security number.
  • One to many: Occurs when one side of the relationship can have multiple matches, for instance, the roster of the Miami Marlins, where all the players play for the same team.
  • Many to many: Happens when both sides can have multiple matches. Take clothing, a person can have different models of clothing, and individual models of clothing can be own by numerous customers.   

In conclusion, understanding hierarchies can allow you to discover deep insights inside of data like finding sales trends in different locations by comparing among hierarchy levels in different areas (On state, county, and city-level).

I hope you enjoyed this week’s article! Understanding the difference between dimensions, attributes, and hierarchies will help you better treat data and complete analysis. If you want to learn more about margins and breakeven analysis for product distribution, please visit my last week’s post. For questions, feel free to reach out in the comment section below.

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