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Definition: Slicing and Dicing
Slicing and Dicing refers to a way of segmenting, viewing and comprehending data in a database. Large blocks of data is cut into smaller segments and the process is repeated until the correct level of detail is achieved for proper analysis. Therefore slicing and dicing presents the data in new and diverse perspectives and provides a closer view of it for analysis. For example a report is showing annual performance of a particular product. If we want to view the quarterly performance, we can use slicing and dicing strategy to drill down to the quarterly level.
OLAP (Online Analytical Processing) is a computer process that enables user to select and extract data from different viewpoints. Slicing and Dicing term is generally used in OLAP databases that presents data to the end user in multidimensional cube format like a 3D spreadsheet (called an OLAP cube). The OLAP cube comprises numeric facts called measures which are categorized by dimensions.
Slicing refers to selecting a subset of the cube by choosing a single value for one of its dimension and creating a smaller cube with one less dimension.
In the above diagram, the slice is performed for dimension “time” using the variable “Q1” (criteria time). It generates a new cube with 2 dimensions. Thus slice operation produced a sliced OLAP cube by enabling the user to choose specific value for one of its dimension.
Dicing on the other hand generates a subcube by picking two or more values from multiple dimensions of the cube. The cube is rotated independent of its dimension.
In the above diagram, the dice operation is based on the following selection criteria involving all the three variables:
• Location = “Vancouver” or “Toronto”
• Time = “Q1” or “Q2”
• Item = “ Modem” or “Mobile”
Thus dicing and slicing allows detailed analysis of data from different angles.