Generalization, Specialization and Aggregation in ER Model


Generalization is a process of generalizing an entity which contains generalized attributes or properties of generalized entities. The entity that is created will contain the common features. Generalization is a Bottom up process.

We can have three sub entities as Car, Truck, Motorcycle and these three  entities can be generalized into one general super class as Vehicle.

It is a form of abstraction that specifies two or more entities (sub class) having common characters that can be generalized into one single entity (super class) at higher level hiding all the differences.


Specialization is a process of identifying subsets of an entity that shares different characteristics. It breaks an entity into multiple entities from higher level (super class) to lower level (sub class). The breaking of higher level entity is based on some distinguishing  characteristics of the entities in super class.

It is a top down approach in which we first define the super class and then sub class and then their attributes and relationships. 


Aggregation represents relationship between a whole object and its component. Using aggregation we can express relationship among relationships. Aggregation shows ‘has-a’ or ‘is-part-of’ relationship between entities where one represents the ‘whole’ and other ‘part’.

Consider a ternary relationship Works_On between Employee, Branch and Manager. Now the best way to model this situation is to use aggregation, So, the relationship-set, Works_On is a higher level entity-set. Such an entity-set is treated in the same manner as any other entity-set. We can create a binary relationship, Manager, between Works_On and Manager to represent who manages what tasks.

Updated on: 19-Jun-2020

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