Organization of heterogeneous scientific data using the EAV/CR representation

J Am Med Inform Assoc. 1999 Nov-Dec;6(6):478-93. doi: 10.1136/jamia.1999.0060478.


Entity-attribute-value (EAV) representation is a means of organizing highly heterogeneous data using a relatively simple physical database schema. EAV representation is widely used in the medical domain, most notably in the storage of data related to clinical patient records. Its potential strengths suggest its use in other biomedical areas, in particular research databases whose schemas are complex as well as constantly changing to reflect evolving knowledge in rapidly advancing scientific domains. When deployed for such purposes, the basic EAV representation needs to be augmented significantly to handle the modeling of complex objects (classes) as well as to manage interobject relationships. The authors refer to their modification of the basic EAV paradigm as EAV/CR (EAV with classes and relationships). They describe EAV/CR representation with examples from two biomedical databases that use it.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Database Management Systems*
  • Databases as Topic / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • MEDLINE / organization & administration
  • Nervous System*
  • Semantics
  • Smell