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Business Intelligence Glossary

This glossary summarizes terms found in the InterSystems IRIS Business Intelligence documentation. If you have not yet done so, InterSystems highly recommends that you read Basic Concepts.


An operation that a user can start by using a control (such as a button) on a dashboard. The system provides a set of standard actions (such as applying a filter, navigating to another dashboard, and others), and you can add custom actions. See Defining Custom Actions.

age dimension and age level

An age dimension is a dimension that contains age levels. An age level groups data by an age, relative to the cube build time, computed from a date or time value in the source data. Age dimensions and age levels are not generally recommended, because they require nightly rebuilds.

age measure

A measure that provides an aggregated age value in days. Age measures are not generally recommended, because they require nightly rebuilds.

All level and All member

The All level is a special, optional level, which appears in all the hierarchies of a dimension. If defined, this level contains one member, the All member, which corresponds to all records in the cube. You can use the All member to create a summary line in a pivot table.


Business intelligence, a set of tools and techniques that transform raw data into insights that can improve the operation of a business or other organization. BI is intended to support a measurement-based approach to making strategic and tactical decisions.

building a cube

The process of iterating through the source class for a cube and populating the fact table (and building the indexes for that table). See also synchronizing a cube.

For details, see Compiling and Building Cubes and Keeping the Cubes Current.

business metric

A two-dimensional array of data generated by a running production and generally providing data relevant to or about that production. Like pivot tables, business metrics can be displayed on a dashboard, within a widget. For information on creating production business metrics, see Developing Productions.

business rule

A concept that allows nontechnical users to change the behavior of business processes within a production. You can use them in source expressions in cubes; see Details for Source Expressions. For details on production business rules, see Developing Business Rules.

calculated measure

A measure that is based on other measures via an MDX expression. The phrase calculated measure is not standard in MDX, but this documentation uses it for brevity. Formally, a calculated measure is a calculated member that belongs to the Measures dimension.

calculated member

A member that is based on other members via an MDX expression. You can define two kinds of calculated members:

  • A calculated measure is a measure is based on other measures. (In MDX, each measure is a member of the Measures dimension.)

    For example, one measure might be defined as a second measure divided by a third measure.

    The phrase calculated measure is not standard in MDX, but this documentation uses it for brevity.

  • A non-measure calculated member typically aggregates together other non-measure members. Like other non-measure members, this calculated member is a group of records in the fact table.

See Defining Calculated Members.

compound cube

A special kind of subject area that combines multiple cube definitions (typically two) and that enables you to create pivot tables that contain elements from multiple cubes. See Defining Shared Dimensions and Compound Cubes.

computed dimension

A special kind of Business Intelligence dimension whose members are computed at runtime via an SQL or MDX expression. See Defining Computed Dimensions.

Computed dimensions do not have any association with calculated members. A computed dimension is specific to Business Intelligence. A calculated member is a standard concept in MDX.

container class

A class that extends %DeepSee.UserLibrary.ContainerOpens in a new tab. This class can contain the definitions of pivot tables, dashboards, and other Business Intelligence folder items. When you compile this class, the system generates those folder items, replacing any current definitions that they might have. See Implementing InterSystems Business Intelligence.


An interactive element on a dashboard. Controls include drop-down lists and buttons.


An model of your data that defines elements that can be used in MDX queries. These elements determine how you can query your data, specifically, a set of specific records (such as patient records or transaction records). The set of records is determined by the source class for the cube. For an introduction, see Basic Concepts.

cube inheritance

A mechanism in Business Intelligence that enables you to define multiple similar cubes. This mechanism has no relationship to class inheritance. See Using Cube Inheritance.

custom listing

A listing, specifically one of the following special kinds of listings:

  • A listing that uses a custom SQL query that retrieves fields from some other table, not the source table used by the cube, and not a data connector. See Defining Listings.

  • A listing that consists of listing fields chosen by the user, in the Analyzer. See Performing Ad Hoc Analysis.


An interactive display of data, particularly data that provides a high-level data of a business. See Creating Dashboards.

data connector

A class that extends %DeepSee.DataConnectorOpens in a new tab. A data connector maps the results of an arbitrary SQL query into an object that can be used as the source of a cube. Typically, a data connector accesses external data not in an InterSystems database, but you can also use it to specify an SQL query against an InterSystems database, including an SQL query on a view. See Defining and Using Data Connectors.

detail listing

See listing.


A container for levels. A dimension contains one or more hierarchies, which in turn contain levels. For example, a single dimension might contain multiple hierarchies related to allergies. There is no formal relationship between two different hierarchies or between the levels of one hierarchy and the levels of another hierarchy. The practical purpose of a dimension is to define the default behavior of the levels that it contains — specifically the All level.

See Defining Dimensions, Hierarchies, and Levels.

dimension table

The table in which Business Intelligence stores the members of a level and any properties they have. See Details for the Fact and Dimension Tables.

drill down

Examine a row of a pivot table and see the data for that row displayed in a more granular way. For example, a row might display data for a year, and you would drill down to see data for that year, broken out by month. Business Intelligence supports multiple forms of drill down. See Performing Ad Hoc Analysis.

Informally (although not in this documentation), the phrases drill down and drill through are sometimes used interchangeably, and it is wise to double-check which phrase is intended.

drill through

Formally, to drill through means to display a listing. Internally, the system uses the MDX DRILLTHROUGH statement when it displays a listing. See Performing Ad Hoc Analysis.

Informally (although not in this documentation), the phrases drill through and drill down are sometimes used interchangeably, and it is wise to double-check which phrase is intended.


An expression (<expression> element) whose value is available while the system is building a row in the fact table. You can define an expression that uses complex or time-consuming logic, and then you can base multiple cube elements on the expression. Expressions are for use during cube build only and are provided for efficiency.

See Other Options.


A row in the fact table.

fact table

A generated structure that the system queries directly. When you compile a cube definition, the system generates a fact table class. When you build a cube, the system creates records for this table and indexes them. See Basic Concepts.


A restriction on the data. The system provides two simple ways to filter data: member-based filters and measure-based filters. You can combine these, and more complex filters are also possible, especially if you write MDX queries directly. For an introduction, see Filters.

folder item

Any of the following Business Intelligence items:

  • Pivot tables

  • Saved widgets

  • Dashboards

  • Themes

Business Intelligence folder items are visible in the Studio Workspace window, where they are shown in the Other folder.

geo listing

An organization of levels. Levels belong to hierarchies (which belong to dimensions). A hierarchy can contain only single level or can contain multiple levels. If it contains multiple levels, the higher levels of the hierarchy are less granular then the lower levels. That is, each member of a higher level contains a larger set of records than does a member of a lower level.

In casual usage, a higher level is called the parent of the lower level. However, it is useful to remember that the hierarchy is a actually a hierarchy among members. Thus it is more accurate to state that a member of the higher level is the parent of one or more members of the lower level. Conversely, any member of a lower level is the child of exactly one member of the higher level.

Hierarchies provide additional features beyond those provided by levels; see Hierarchies and Dimensions and Defining Dimensions, Hierarchies, and Levels.


A class based on %DeepSee.KPIOpens in a new tab. In most cases, a KPI uses a query and displays a result set. Like pivot tables, KPIs can be displayed on a dashboard, within a widget. You can also use KPIs as building blocks for calculated members (including calculated measures). Start with Defining Basic KPIs.


A cube element that enables you to group records. A level consists of members, each of which is a set of records. See Basic Concepts and Details of Defining Levels.

list-based level

A level that is based upon a list value. For example, a patient can have multiple diagnoses. The Diagnoses level groups patients by diagnosis. With a list level, it is possible for a given record of the source class to have multiple values and thus for that record to belong to multiple members of the level.


An SQL query that accesses the lowest-level records associated with one or more cells of a pivot table. See Defining Listings.

listing field

A <listingField> element defined in a cube definition. Users can select the listing fields to include, when they create custom listings in the Analyzer. See Defining Listing Fields.

This phrase can also refer more generally to any field in any listing.

listing group

A class that defines a group of listings. Listing groups are created in the Listing Group Manager. The purpose of this tool is to enable you (and your customers, if appropriate) to define listings outside of cube definitions and without needing access to the Architect. See Defining Listing Groups.

map listing

A listing that contains location data and is displayed as a map. Each pin on the map corresponds to a source record.


A map listing uses the Google Maps API. Be sure that your usage of this API is consistent with the Terms of Use, which you can access via a link displayed in this listing.

Note that in order to use the Google Maps API, you must obtain an API key. See Specifying Basic Settings.

map widget

A dashboard widget that contains location data and is displayed as a map. Each pin on the map corresponds to a member of a level, particularly a level that refers to locations.


A map widget uses the Google Maps API. Be sure that your usage of this API is consistent with the Terms of Use, which you can access via a link displayed in this widget.

Note that in order to use the Google Maps API, you must obtain an API key. See Specifying Basic Settings.


MultiDimensional eXpressions, a standard query language for OLAP (online analytical processing) databases and used in many BI applications. See Using InterSystems MDX and InterSystems MDX Reference.


A cube element that (with rare exceptions) aggregates values across multiple records. Each measure is based on a source value, which is either a class property or an ObjectScript expression. The definition of a measure also includes an aggregation function, which specifies how to aggregate values for this measure. See Basic Concepts and Defining Measures.


A set of records. Every level has one or members. See Basic Concepts and Details of Defining Levels.

named filter

A reusable filter that is defined in the Analyzer. See Filtering Pivot Tables.

named set

A reusable MDX set that is defined within a cube. See Defining Named Sets.

NLP dimension

A special kind of dimension that analyzes an NLP measure, which in turn is a measure based on unstructured text. See Using Text Analytics in Cubes.

NLP measure

A special kind of measure that is based on unstructured text. You cannot display NLP measures directly in pivot tables. Their purpose is to provide data for use by NLP dimensions. See Using Text Analytics in Cubes.

pivot table

An interactive, drillable display of data, generally with rows and columns, designed for specific user roles or for specific areas of your user interface. A pivot table is based on an MDX query that is executed at runtime can respond to input such as filter selections made by the user. Internally it obtains values from a cube. See Using the Analyzer.

pivot variable

An element that is intended to be used in pivot tables, specifically, in selected parts of the query that defines the pivot table. When a dashboard displays the pivot table, that dashboard can include a control with which the user can change the value of the corresponding pivot variable. See Defining and Using Pivot Variables.

Pivot variables are entirely different from runtime variables.


A custom widget that can be displayed on dashboards. For information on creating portlets, see Implementing InterSystems Business Intelligence.


A specialized form of KPI that defines one or more computations to use in the Analyzer and in queries. Plug-ins are especially appropriate for complex or time-consuming computations. For example, you might have a computation that uses several different parts of the source record, as well as external information; a plug-in would be suitable in this case. See Defining Plug-ins.


A value that is specific to a member of a given level. If a level has a property, then each member of that level has a value for that property; other levels do not have values for the property. You can use properties in queries in much the same way that you use measures. In Business Intelligence, you can also use properties for other purposes such as controlling member names and controlling the order in which member are sorted. See Defining Properties.

quality measure

A quality measure is similar to a calculated measure because it is defined by a formula that combines MDX expressions. You specify the subject area or subject areas in which it is available, and you can control whether the quality measure is published (and thus available in the Analyzer). Each quality measure is a subclass of %DeepSee.QualityMeasure.QualityMeasureOpens in a new tab.

For information, see Defining Quality Measures.


A connection between two cubes that makes the dimensions of one cube available in the other cube (and possibly vice versa). If you define relationships, you can define a level once rather than multiple times, which minimizes the sizes of fact tables and their indexes. See Cube-Cube Relationships.

runtime variable

A special element that is intended for use as the default value of a filter on a dashboard (currently this is their only use). The definition of a runtime variable is an ObjectScript expression that is evaluated at runtime. See Configuring Settings.

Runtime variables are entirely different from pivot variables.

searchable measure

A measure that enables you to apply a filter that considers the values in the source records. Searchable measures are an InterSystems extension to MDX. In standard MDX, a filter can be based only on members. See Defining Measures.

Selective Build

A cube build option that allows you to build a specific level, measure, or relationship in a cube, without having to rebuild the entire cube. See Using Selective Build.


A list of multiple MDX items, typically used for rows or columns of a pivot table. The items can be any combination of literal values, members, and tuples. For an introduction, see Working with Sets. For reference information, see Set Expressions.

shared dimension

A dimension that can be used in more than one cube. That is, more than one cube can use members of the dimension for rows or columns or for filtering. A dimension can be shared formally or informally. If the dimension is shared formally, you can define a compound cube that combines the cubes that use this dimension. See Defining Shared Dimensions and Compound Cubes.

source class, source records

The source class is the class that contains the data upon which a cube is based. Every cube has a source class, which is usually a persistent class. A source class has a set of source records. For an introduction, see Basic Concepts.

star table
subject area

A view of a cube with optional overrides. A subject area uses the fact table and related tables of the associated cube and does not require independent updates. You define subject areas to enable users to focus on smaller sets of data without the need for multiple cubes. See Defining Subject Areas.

synchronizing a cube

The process of updating the fact table and indexes for a cube, based on incremental changes to the source class. See Compiling and Building Cubes and Keeping the Cubes Current.

See also building a cube.

term list

A simple (but extendable) list of key and value pairs. Term lists provide a way to customize a Business Intelligence model without programming. See Defining Term Lists.

time dimension and time level

A time dimension is a dimension that contains time levels. A time level groups data by a date or time value in the source data.


A type of MDX value that consists of an intersection of members. If the tuple refers to each dimension in the cube, the tuple is fully qualified. Otherwise, it is partially qualified.

For an introduction, see Tuples and Cubes. For reference information, see Tuple Expressions.

unstructured data

Data that is written as text in a human language such as English or French. The Analytics Engine analyzes unstructured data. For a general introduction, see Conceptual Overview.

You can use unstructured data within cubes, if the source table for a cube includes a property that contains unstructured data. See Using Text Analytics in Cubes.


A rectangular area that lies within a dashboard and that (in most cases) displays data obtained from Business Intelligence. See Creating Dashboards.

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