Goldman Sachs Interview Question for Financial Software Developers

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Star schemas

A star schema consists of fact tables and dimension tables. Fact tables contain the quantitative or factual data about a business--the information being queried. This information is often numerical, additive measurements and can consist of many columns and millions or billions of rows. Dimension tables are usually smaller and hold descriptive data that reflects the dimensions, or attributes, of a business. SQL queries then use joins between fact and dimension tables and constraints on the data to return selected information.

Fact and dimension tables differ from each other only in their use within a schema. Their physical structure and the SQL syntax used to create the tables are the same. In a complex schema, a given table can act as a fact table under some conditions and as a dimension table under others. The way in which a table is referred to in a query determines whether a table behaves as a fact table or a dimension table.

Even though they are physically the same type of table, it is important to understand the difference between fact and dimension tables from a logical point of view. To demonstrate the difference between fact and dimension tables, consider how an analyst looks at business performance:

* A salesperson analyzes revenue by customer, product, market, and time period.
* A financial analyst tracks actuals and budgets by line item, product, and time period.
* A marketing person reviews shipments by product, market, and time period.

The facts--what is being analyzed in each case--are revenue, actuals and budgets, and shipments. These items belong in fact tables. The business dimensions--the by items--are product, market, time period, and line item. These items belong in dimension tables.

For example, a fact table in a sales database, implemented with a star schema, might contain the sales revenue for the products of the company from each customer in each geographic market over a period of time. The dimension tables in this database define the customers, products, markets, and time periods used in the fact table.

A well-designed schema provides dimension tables that allow a user to browse a database to become familiar with the information in it and then to write queries with constraints so that only the information that satisfies those constraints is returned from the database.

- algooz June 26, 2009 | Flag Reply
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wht are dese star schemas..
can u plz explain

- varsha September 08, 2009 | Flag
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In a star schema , the main table is fact table and all surrounding tables are basically the Dimensions to that fact , making it a star shaped schema.

- Anonymous May 18, 2009 | Flag Reply
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- Aaron January 29, 2013 | Flag Reply

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