The Father of OLAP? – Edgar Frank “Ted” Codd

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So, who invented OLAP? Edgar Frank "Ted" Codd, the same person who invented relational data bases is the best person we can find. In 1985 Codd created the 12 rules of RDBMS (Relational Data Base Management System) then in 1993 the he came up with the 12 rules of OLAP (On Line Analytical Processing). OLAP came about because Codd knew RDBMS are excellent for storing data and retrieving detailed transactions but slow and hard to use when you want to aggregate, calculate and create crazy views of data without needing to understand relational databases at all. There was definitely some controversy over Codd's 12 rules of OLAP. It is argued that he was paid by a vendor to come up with them. Whatever the case and the list still applies today. Oh, you will notice the term EIS in the list below.  If you're as old as me you'll remember EIS means Executive Information System - a far better name than Business Intelligence if you ask me.  Why did we ever change to BI?

Why is Codd important to me (and you)?  It's his work that created or at least codified RDBMS and OLAP. Even today many systems used in BI are either RDBMS or OLAP.  With CALUMO you get the best of both worlds (and both frameworks) to give you fast reporting, easy analysis and streamlined budgeting and forecasting.

Here's the list:

1. Multidimensional conceptual view. This supports EIS 'slice-and-dice' operations and is usually required in financial modeling.

2. Transparency. OLAP systems should be part of an open system that supports heterogeneous data sources. Furthermore, the end user should not have to be concerned about the details of data access or conversions.

3. Accessibility. The OLAP should present the user with a single logical schema of the data.

4. Consistent reporting performance. Performance should not degrade as the number of dimensions in the model increases.

5. Client/server architecture. Requirement for open, modular systems.

6. Generic dimensionality. Not limited to 3-D and not biased toward any particular dimension. A function applied to one dimension should also be able to be applied to another.

7. Dynamic sparse-matrix handling. Related both to the idea of nulls in relational databases and to the notion of compressing large files, a sparse matrix is one in which not every cell contains data. OLAP systems should accommodate varying storage and data-handling options.

8. Multiuser support. OLAP systems, like EISes, need to support multiple concurrent users, including their individual views or slices of a common database.

9. Unrestricted cross-dimensional operations. Similar to rule 6; all dimensions are created equal, and operations across data dimensions do not restrict relationships between cells.

10. Intuitive data manipulation. Ideally, users shouldn't have to use menus or perform complex multiple-step operations when an intuitive drag-and-drop action will do.

11. Flexible reporting. Save a tree. Users should be able to print just what they need, and any changes to the underlying financial model should be automatically reflected in reports.

12. Unlimited dimensional and aggregation levels. A serious tool should support at least 15, and preferably 20, dimensions.


Edgar Frank "Ted" Codd
Born August 23, 1923
Isle of Portland, England
Died April 18, 2003 (aged 79)
Williams Island, Florida, USA
Fields Computer Science
Alma mater Exeter College, OxfordUniversity of Michigan
Known for
  • relational model
  • OLAP
Notable awards Turing Award


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