EAV Model

Entity–attribute–value model (EAV) is a data model to encode, in a space-efficient manner, entities where the number of attributes (properties, parameters) that can be used to describe them is potentially vast, but the number that will actually apply to a given entity is relatively modest.

EAV is also known as object–attribute–value model, vertical database model, and open schema.

- Wikipedia

As an example, assume that we are building a Know Your Customer (KYC) system and we have to design a database table to store the identity information of a customer.

During the KYC process, the customer can submit any kind of identity documents for us to identify him, including the national identity card, passport, driving license, residence permit and many more.

Different identity documents contain different information. If we have to design a database table to store all possible attributes for all possible identity documents, the table will end up to have dozens of columns where most of them will be null for most of the records.

Possible information on an identity document:

  • Document Number

  • Full Name

  • First Name

  • Last Name

  • Date of Birth

  • Gender

  • Nationality

  • Issuing Country

  • Issuing Date

  • Expiry Date

  • Residential Address

  • Marital Status

  • Occupation

  • ...

Instead of including every possible attribute as the columns, we can design the table to follow the EAV model.

CREATE TABLE "identities" (
  "cumtomer_id" bigint NOT NULL,
  "attribute" varchar(255) NOT NULL,
  "value" varchar(255) NOT NULL

As a result, different customers can have different set of identities records.




"Satoshi Nakamoto"






















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