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ER Diagram in DBMS – Understanding the Entity Relationship Diagram Model

In database management, the ER Diagram stands for clarity and organisation. It is like a map, guiding us through the complex landscape of data relationships. Through this visual mapping, we simplify the intricate web of connections, understanding how each piece fits into the grand scheme. 


Each entity in the ER Diagram, be it a person, place, or thing, is depicted with elegant simplicity, connected by lines that make it easier for us to signify their interactions and, hence, understand the relation between them. From identifying key entities to mapping out their associations, the ER Diagram helps us to create databases with precision and finesse. It’s not just a tool; it’s a canvas where data dreams take shape.


Table of Contents:



What is an ER Diagram?


An ER Diagram, i.e., an Entity Relationship Diagram, visually illustrates the relationships among entities intended for database storage. Essentially, it serves as the structural blueprint of the database, employing specific symbols to delineate entity relationships. This meticulously crafted diagram focuses on three core elements: entities, attributes, and relationships. Through this graphical representation, the intricate connections within the database are articulated, providing a clear framework for its design and implementation.


The above diagram showcases the relationship between two entities: ‘Student’ and ‘Course’. The relationship between these two manifests as a many-to-many association, signifying that multiple students can enrol in various courses. Similarly, a single student can enrol in multiple courses. Within the Student entity, there are attributes such as Stu_Id, Stu_Name, and Stu_Age. At the same time, the Course entity holds attributes like Cou_ID and Cou_Name.


What is an ER Model?


ER Diagrams were introduced by Peter Chen in 1971 to establish a standardised convention for conceptual modelling. Numerous models were deliberated upon, yet none proved satisfactory. Charles Bachman’s data structure diagrams also influenced Chen’s model. 


The Entity-Relationship Model portrays database structure through diagrams. ER Modeling follows a systematic approach in designing databases, necessitating a thorough analysis of all data requirements before implementation.

Facts About ER Diagram Model


  • The ER model facilitates the creation of Database Designs, offering a user-friendly graphical approach to data modelling. 
  • It’s extensively employed in Database Design, serving as a GUI representation of a database’s logical structure. 
  • This tool aids in identifying system entities and their interrelationships, streamlining the design process effectively.


Why Use the ER Diagram Model in DBMS?


  • The ER Diagram aids in conceptualising the database and identifying the necessary fields for each entity. 
  • It enhances comprehension of the data to be stored, simplifying complexity for swift database construction. 
  • Utilising Entity-Relationship models, it describes elements effectively, providing users with a preview of the database’s logical structure.


Symbols Used in ER Diagram


In the ER Model, symbols are employed to represent the logical system view from a data perspective:


  • Rectangles symbolise Entities in the ER Model.
  • Ellipses denote Attributes within the ER Model.
  • Diamonds illustrate Relationships among Entities.
  • Lines connect attributes to entities and entity sets, along with other relationship types.
  • Double Ellipses signify Multivalued Attributes.
  • Double Rectangles represent Weak Entities in the ER Model.


Components of ER Diagram


Here is the diagram for the components of the ER model:


You base an ER Diagram on three basic concepts:


  • Entities
    • Weak Entity
    • Strong Entity


  • Attributes
    • Key Attribute
    • Composite Attribute
    • Multivalued Attribute
    • Derived Attribute


  • Relationships
    • One-to-One Relationships
    • One-to-Many Relationships
    • Many-to-One Relationships
    • Many-to-Many Relationships




An Entity signifies a distinct object or entity in the physical world, discernible from others, representing data intended for storage in the database. Typically, they are depicted using rectangles in ER diagrams.


Two primary types of entities exist:


  • Strong Entity:
    This entity stands independently in the diagram, devoid of reliance on any other entity. It possesses a primary key, uniquely identifying each instance of the entity.


  • Weak Entity:
    Dependent on another entity for its existence, a weak entity lacks a primary key but features a partial key. This partial key, in conjunction with the primary key of the identifying entity, aids in identifying instances of the weak entity.




An Attribute denotes a characteristic or property of an entity or relationship, describing a facet of the entity. Each attribute encompasses a data type that defines its nature.


There are four primary types of attributes:


  • Key Attribute:
    These attributes uniquely identify an entity within an entity set. For instance, “Employee ID” could serve as a key attribute for the “Employee” entity.


  • Composite Attribute:
    These attributes can be subdivided into smaller components, representing more fundamental attributes with distinct meanings. For example, a “Full Name” attribute can be segmented into “First Name” and “Last Name”.


  • Multivalued Attribute:
    These attributes can accommodate multiple values. For instance, a “Phone Number” attribute might be multivalued if employees can possess more than one phone number.


  • Derived Attribute:
    This attribute’s values are derived from other attributes within the database. For instance, an employee’s age can be derived from their “Date of Birth”.




A Relationship signifies a logical connection between two or more entities, portraying their interaction and interdependence within a database.


Four primary types of relationships exist:


  1. One-to-One Relationship:
    Here, one instance of entity A is associated with one instance of entity B. For example, in a company database, an ‘Employee’ entity may have a one-to-one relationship with another entity,  ‘EmployeeDetails’, where each employee has a unique set of details.


  1. 2. One-to-Many Relationship:
      This relationship entails one instance of entity A being associated with multiple instances of entity B, while each instance of entity B links to only one instance of entity A. For instance, a ‘Department’ entity could have a one-to-many relationship with an ‘Employee’ entity, indicating that one department can employ many employees, but each employee belongs to only one department.


  1. Many-to-One Relationship:
    The inverse of the one-to-many relationship, where many instances of entity A can be linked to a single instance of entity B.


  1. Many-to-Many Relationship:
     In this relationship, numerous instances of entity A can relate to multiple instances of entity B. For instance, an ‘Author’ entity may have a many-to-many relationship with a ‘Book’ entity, indicating that one author can write multiple books, and one book can have contributions from multiple authors.


How to Draw an ER Diagram?


Here are the key steps to create an ER diagram:


  • Start by recognising all Entities. Represent each entity within a rectangle and ensure accurate labelling.
  • Identify relationships between entities and depict them using a diamond in the centre, illustrating the relationship without connecting relationships to each other.
  • Establish connections between attributes and entities, appropriately labelling them.
  • Remove any redundant entities or relationships to streamline the diagram.
  • Confirm that your ER Diagram encompasses all necessary data for designing the database.
  • Strategically utilise colours to emphasise important aspects within your diagrams.


Long Story Short

The ER diagram within Database Management Systems (DBMS) serves as a fundamental resource for structuring and visualizing databases, streamlining data organisation and handling. Gaining expertise in ER diagrams is essential for effectively navigating the intricacies of contemporary information systems, thus becoming a vital skill for individuals entering the field of database design and development. Those eager to explore the dynamic world of Full Stack Development, focusing on web and mobile platforms, can enroll in the  Certificate Program in Full Stack Development with Specialization for Web and Mobile.





Commonly referred to as ERDs or ER Models, they employ a standard set of symbols, including rectangles, diamonds, ovals, and connecting lines, to illustrate the interconnections among entities, relationships, and their attributes. These diagrams mimic grammatical structure, portraying entities as nouns and relationships as verbs.
While fundamental E-R concepts can capture many database features effectively, certain extensions to the basic E-R model may better express specific aspects of a database. These extended E-R features include specialisation, generalisation, higher- and lower-level entity sets, attribute inheritance, and aggregation.
An Entity-Relationship (ER) diagram functions as a flowchart, depicting the relationships among "entities" like individuals, objects, or concepts within a system. Primarily utilised for designing or troubleshooting relational databases in software engineering, business information systems, education, and research.

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