The Use of UML Class Diagrams To Teach Database Modelling and Database Design
Shahzad Qureshi, Yasser
It is now nearly 30 years since Peter Chen’s watershed paper “The Entity-Relationship Model – towards a Unified View of Data”.  The entity relationship model and variations and extensions to it have been taught in colleges and universities for many years. In his original paper Peter Chen looked at converting his new ER model to the then existing data structure diagrams for the Network model. In recent years there has been a tendency to use a Unified Modelling Language (UML) class diagram for conceptual modelling for relational databases, and several popular course text books use UML notation to some degree  . This paper looks at the usefulness of using UML class diagrams for teaching database design in undergraduate courses. In this paper we look specifically at two concepts which can cause problems for the novice database designer. Firstly transferring the concept of a weak entity from an Entity Relationship model to UML and secondly the notation for structural constraints in different diagramming notations. We also look at the mixture of notations which students mistakenly use when modelling. This is often the result of different notations being used on different courses throughout their degree. Peter Chen wrote in his original paper “The entity-relationship model can be used as a tool in the structured design of databases using the network model” today we could write “the UML class diagram can be used as a tool in the structured design of databases using the relational model”. Or can we?