I was doing some reading today on the topic of “mental flexibility” and as I Googled I found the topic evolve into a description of “mental health” with mental flexibility being one of the components. What follows is a summary of what I found.

All too often we define mental illness, but a clear definition of mental health is elusive. But from what I read mental health is not complicated. Mental health has four components:

  1. Focus
  2. Flexibility
  3. Objectivity
  4. Resiliency

A focused person knows what he wants from life. A flexible person is willing to take different approaches to get what he wants. An objective person recognizes what approach works and what approach doesn’t. A resilient person is not only prepared to let go of what doesn’t work, but to accept what does persistently. If you are mentally healthy you have all four of these aspects working in your favor. If for whatever reason you do not have one of these traits you are to some degree ill.

How does this relate to this blog? Apply this formula to any data based project you undertake and you will discover that there is a degree of disfunction in pretty well every one. And now let’s harken back to John Zachman’s perspectives:

  1. Conceptual: Are you focused?
  2. Contextual: Are you flexible?
  3. Logical: Are you objective?
  4. Physical: Are you resilient?

Funny how the paradigms shift like a Porsche transmission.

Binding the Dimensions

Now that we have defined each of the dimensions we can begin building a dimensional model.

In the above representation we only have the independent entities and the intersection entity. To take it one step further we have to introduce the association entities. I’ll discuss that in my next post.

Interrogative Cube

I just thought I would slip this in before I continued. Click on the thumbnail to get the full size image.


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The Universe of Systems

Okay, so in the last two posts I talked about Moffett’s Universe of Discourse. We saw that the Universe has two facets: Process and Audience. I’m going to change the term “Audience” to “Persona”, a term that Alan Cooper likes to use and which I also prefer.

Systems can have many dimensions. Earlier in this blog I pointed out that the most generic dimensional models had four, six or twelve facets. Let’s first look at the six dimensional model called “the basic interrogatives” used by John Zachman in his framework.

Zachman’s dimensions–which he calls “focuses”–are as follows:

  1. Persona
  2. Instance
  3. Step
  4. Node
  5. Event
  6. Goal

Persona is the people who employ the system whether they are internal or external to the business. Instance is the value that the system uses for structure or content. Step is the action performed by the system. Node is the location a system occupies. Event is an occurrence used to meter time. Goal is the motive of the system.

Each of these discrete entities has a pluralarity of instances that are associated to one another in three possible ways. Let’s look at that next.

Persona’s belong to groups. A single persona may be a supertype to several persona subtypes. Each of these are one to one relationships. A persona may associate with members of its own group which is a recursive relationship. A persona may associate with members of another group which is a one to many relationship. Finally, a persona may be part of an “ExtraGroup” that resolves the association in a many to many relationship.


The next facet which is discussed by Moffett in his Universe of Discourse is function. But it really isn’t function. He is actually talking about the deliverable of the function. Therefore, we will talk about an instance. Each instance is not a single measure. An instance is a collection of measures which are related one to one. When Moffett talks about recording, he is talking about capturing one unique instance for each of the human senses. When Moffett talks about reporting he is talking about an instance that is associated recursively. When Moffett talks about generalizing he is talking about comparing one instance in one table to instances in another table. When talking about Theorizing Moffett is resolving a many to many relationship between two tables of instances.

Now that we’ve dealt with both of the dimensions dealt with by Moffett. Let’s look at the remaining four dimensions.

The third dimension of the basic interrogatives is step. We like to think of step and process asĀ  repeatable, however each iteration of a process is a unique three dimensional navigation through a three dimensional network of steps. We are accustomed to programming with steps, decisions and loops, however, the relational model presents us with a whole new way to think about programming if we are willing to do so. SQL can be used in place of procedural language and you do not flowchart it in the same fashion as a procedural language.

Fourth is the dimension of nodes. Nodes belong to networks and networks can relate to nodes within their “family”, nodes outside their family and nodes from families that have complex many to many associations.


The fifth of the dimensions this model provides us with is event. If we look at the event dimension carefully in any complex system, we can see that time is not linear. Time navigates a three dimensional network of events.


The final dimension of our model is goal. When we look at a recursive association between goals we are talking about operations. When we associate one goal to many goals in a different table we are using tactics. When we resolve a many to many association between goals we are employing strategy.

Now, having our six dimensions we see that we have six three dimensional networks which intersect for each “transaction” or “observation”. We’ll look at this further in the next post.

Systema: Zachman Framework Abstract


The Zachman Framework I have seen diagrammed often. However, I have not found the diagrams any more enlightening than the original diagrams by John Zachman. The reason is because the diagrams referred to other diagramming conventions instead of revealing the underlying concepts being described by the diagrams. Click on the thumbnail below to view what I consider an appropriate abstraction of the Zachman Framework:


I have submitted this diagram to John Zachman and he has welcomed it.

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Platonic Dimensional Models

I have been spending some time reading Synergetics by R. Buckminster Fuller and it has me thinking about the structures of dimensional databases.

My work as a data modeler has exposed me to many ontologies. Every data model you create is a self contained ontological framework. And for a long time I did not think about what those frameworks had in common. Every project was unique.
In the course of my recreational reading I learned about Pattern Language from Christopher Alexander, saw its adaptation in object oriented design and over time learned how patterns could exist in relational models to address particular applications most effectively. It became obvious that there were optimal patterns for competitive advantage and the seemingly limitless array of patterns for databases revealed optimals and families of optimals.

In studying dimensional data model design, based on Ralph Kimball’s work, I found myself also looking for patterns. The only case of patterning I found at first were called the Basic Interrogatives. Further research corroborated this pattern by way of the Zachman Framework. There was a six dimensional pattern. But at that point I stalled.

Several years later I began to read the works of R. Buckminster Fuller and a new world of possibility opened up to me. What Fuller led me to do was visualize dimensional models not in the traditional two dimensional star or snowflake, but as polyhedra with the vertices representing each of the dimensions and the fact being the center of gravity of the solid.

The fit of the basic interrogatives into an octahedral structure lead me to wonder about polyhedra further. Fuller’s work lead me to think about the platonic solids and other families of polyhedra. I began to see patterns in dimensional data models similar to the six interrogatives.

My search for generic dimensional models lead me to the world of library science. I began to look at classification and the work of S. Raganathan came to light. Colon Classification presented another generic structure and this pointed to Bliss Classification 2. Colon Classification presented four dimensions, the Basic Interrogatives presented six dimensions and BC2 presented twelve dimensions. These generic classification systems correlated with the tetrahedron, octahedron and icosahedron–the triangulated Platonic solids.


This is as far as I have come. I am now looking for more dimensional models to examine for patterns that correspond to polyhedra.