In computing, online analytical processing, or OLAP ( /ˈoʊlæp/), is an approach to swiftly answer multi-dimensional analytical (MDA) queries. OLAP is part of the broader category of business intelligence, which also encompasses relational reporting and data mining. Typical applications of OLAP include business reporting for sales, marketing, management reporting, business process management (BPM), budgeting and forecasting, financial reporting and similar areas, with new applications coming up, such as agriculture. The term OLAP was created as a slight modification of the traditional database term OLTP (Online Transaction Processing).
OLAP tools enable users to interactively analyze multidimensional data from multiple perspectives. OLAP consists of three basic analytical operations: consolidation (roll-up), drill-down, and slicing and dicing. Consolidation involves the aggregation of data that can be accumulated and computed in one or more dimensions. For example, all sales offices are rolled up to the sales department or sales division to anticipate sales trends. In contrast, the drill-down is a technique that allows users to navigate through the details. For instance, users can view the sales by individual products that make up a region’s sales. Slicing and dicing is a feature whereby users can take out (slicing) a specific set of data of the OLAP cube and view (dicing) the slices from different viewpoints.
Databases configured for OLAP use a multidimensional data model, allowing for complex analytical and ad-hoc queries with a rapid execution time. They borrow aspects of navigational databases, hierarchical databases and relational databases.
Famous quotes containing the word analytical:
“I have seen too much not to know that the impression of a woman may be more valuable than the conclusion of an analytical reasoner.”
—Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (18591930)