sparsity and density

Sparsity and density are terms used to describe the percentage of cells in a database table that are not populated and populated, respectively. The sum of the sparsity and density should equal 100%.

A table that is 10% dense has 10% of its cells populated with non-zero values. It is therefore 90% sparse – meaning that 90% of its cells are either not filled with data or are zeros.

Because a processor adds up the zeros, sparcity can negatively impact processing time. In a multidimensional database sparsity can be avoided by linking cubes. Instead of creating a sparse cube for data that is not fully available, a separate but linked cube will ensure the data in the cubes remains consistent without slowing down processing.

This was last updated in April 2012

Dig Deeper on Database management