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Robert Allison PhD Dissertation - Chapter 1


The introduction is composed of two short sections (Sections 1.1 and 1.2) which briefly introduce the research topic, and the organization of the dissertation, respectively.

1.1 Overview of the Research Topic

As indicated in the title, this research encompasses both the creation and utilization of a new data warehouse system for textile- and apparel-related econometric and demographic data. Many new and innovative techniques were developed, both in designing the system infrastructure and providing data analysis capabilities. The research is analogous to designing and test-driving a prototype "vehicle" for the Data Superhighway -- in automotive terms, such a vehicle must be as fast as a Porsche sports car, as functional as a Hummer army jeep, and as easy to drive as a golf cart.

The system, called the Textile and Apparel Business Information System (TABIS), integrates data from over twenty public and private sources into a data warehouse using the relational database structure, and provides a simple menu-driven interface. TABIS's data analysis capabilities range from simple ASCII tables and ASCII-art plots to publication quality plots, maps, and animations. The system is also flexible enough to allow users to add their own data and analysis code instead of, or in addition to, using the TABIS menu options.

1.2 Organization of the Dissertation

In the Literature Review, Sections 2.1 , 2.2 , and 2.3 describe the computer and data analysis technologies needed to implement and utilize TABIS -- without a firm grasp of the technology used, one can not fully realize the capabilities of the system. Next, the existing textile and apparel data sources and analysis systems are described (Sections 2.4 , 2.5 ), and a "need analysis" is included to show the need for a TABIS data warehouse (Section 2.6 ).

The Research Objectives are presented in Section 3, followed by the three sections, Database Design (Section 4), User Interface Design (Section 5), and Results (Section 6), which describe how the objectives were met. The design sections provide details of the system infrastructure, and document the innovative techniques used. The results section contains numerous examples which demonstrate how the system can be utilized.

Last, the Recommendations for Future Work (Section 7) and Synopsis (Section 8) are presented. The recommendations for further work should provide other researchers with a "roadmap to the future" by providing specific examples of how TABIS might be utilized and enhanced in the future.

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