Just how important is the name we call something? In some cases, it is extremely important, but in other cases it isn't. To separate the two, it is important to understand why we attach a name to things and people. The primary reason for naming something is to facilitate communication. I recently attended a party at which I met a person whom I had not seen for several years. While I recognized the face right away, I did not recall the name. As we were talking, I remembered other facts about the person. Not knowing the person's name did not inhibit our conversation. When my wife joined me and I was faced with making introductions, not knowing the name became a problem because it was needed for communication. Prior to that time, it was the information about the person that was of greater significance.

The same is true in data warehousing. As we read articles in the press, we are bombarded with terms such as data warehouse, operational data store, data mart, OLAP, ROLAP, MOLAP, decision support, meta data, etc. It is also not uncommon for several articles to use the same term but to mean completely different things by it. The terms are used for communication purposes. Just as the same word can have multiple definitions, in data warehousing the same term may be used to mean different things. While there are sources, such as unabridged dictionaries, that provide the alternate meanings for English words, no such compendium provides a comprehensive set of variations for information technology terms. Therefore, to ensure that the communication is complete and accurate, the meanings must be used (or implied by reference) in conjunction with the terms.

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