Entity-Attribute-Value Model

What is Entity-Attribute-Value Model

Entity-Attribute-Value (EAV) model is a flexible data model used in scenarios where entities have a potentially unlimited number of attributes. This model is popular in industries that need to collect vast amounts of varying attributes such as healthcare and e-commerce.

Functionality and Features

In the EAV model, data is stored in three incredibly adaptable components: entities, attributes and values. The 'entity' is an object of interest, 'attribute' is the aspect of an entity, and 'value' refers to the actual attribute value. This structure allows for high flexibility in storing and retrieving data.


The EAV model is essentially a triple table structure, where each row description includes an entity identifier, attribute, and value. This framework makes it possible to bypass the traditional relational database schemas and enables the storage of semi-structured or sparse data.

Benefits and Use Cases

The EAV is ideal for situations where the number of attributes is vast and often unknown beforehand. Its flexible structure allows for easy addition and modification of attributes without altering the entire database schema.

Challenges and Limitations

EAV models may become complex and difficult to manage with the addition of new attributes. It may be slower compared to fixed schema models due to its need to join tables frequently, and can pose data integrity challenges as it separates data into multiple tables.

Integration with Data Lakehouse

When utilized in a data lakehouse environment, the EAV model can flexibly process data and accommodate schema changes on-the-fly. However, as data lakehouses promote a combined view of structured and unstructured data, the use of traditional EAV in its original form may be limited. Using a modern data platform like Dremio can help optimize the performance and utility of EAV within a data lakehouse ecosystem.

Security Aspects

EAV models are as secure as the database system they reside in. However, because of their complexity, they might require additional layers of access control to ensure discrete access to entities, attributes, and values.


While EAV models offer a high degree of flexibility, they might not deliver the best performance for large data sets due to their complex querying requirements. Integrating EAV models with technologies like Dremio can help overcome such performance limitations.


What is the Entity-Attribute-Value model? It's a data model that allows for flexibility in storing data where entities have a vast and often unpredictable number of attributes.

Where is the EAV model commonly used? It's commonly used in industries like healthcare and e-commerce, where the data involves many varying attributes.

What are the challenges of the EAV model? The EAV model can become complex and slower compared to fixed schema models due to frequent table joins, and it can pose data integrity challenges.

How does EAV integrate with data lakehouses? Although EAV can process flexible data and accommodate schema changes, its use in its original form may be limited in a data lakehouse. Technologies like Dremio can optimize its performance within a data lakehouse.

What are the security aspects of the EAV model? The EAV model's security is as strong as the database system it resides in but may require additional security measures due to its complexity.


Entity: An object of interest in EAV model.

Attribute: An aspect or property of an entity in the EAV model.

Value: The actual attribute value of an entity in the EAV model.

Data Lakehouse: A combination of a data lake and a data warehouse, designed to handle both structured and unstructured data.

Dremio: A data platform that accelerates data pipelines and enhances performance of various data models like EAV within a data lakehouse ecosystem.

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