Qlik Associative Engine

The Qlik Associative Engine is Qlik’s technology that underpins their data discovery tools like QlikView and Qlik Sense. It's a powerful, in-memory data engine that enables you to rapidly explore relationships in various sources of data, without having to write queries. This experience leverages QIX’s Associative Model. If you’ve ever used a Qlik dashboard before, you are familiar with the Associative Model.

While Qlik’s core products use this under the hood, you can leverage the power of the Engine in any type of solution thanks to Qlik’s APIs. These APIs give you direct access to the Engine, enabling you to incorporate the Associative Model into other technologies. Before you jump into the Engine and the APIs though, let’s get a better understanding of what the Associative Model is and why you might use it over traditional data solutions.

The associative model: an overview

In the Associative Model, all data points are associated. These associations exist even across tables, allowing you to model complex relationships between various data sources and tables. With these associations in place, the model can provide numerous benefits:

  • searching: the model can search on any set of search terms and rapidly return related items from across the model
  • querying: the model performs fast calculations across the data set, even working across tables to produce results without requiring any joins
  • filtering: because all data is associated, the model can seamlessly apply filters on any piece of data in the model and update the rest of the model to reflect the filter
  • speed: all of these operations are performed fast thanks to the associative model and its underlying technology

Contrast these attributes with your typical database. In order to query across tables, you need to write complicated joins to get your results in the format you need. If you want to filter across multiple sets of data, you need to update all of your queries that yield those data sets to keep them in sync with your filters. Highlighting relationships or searching across entire models is typically not even possible with these tools. In general, these solutions require you to build and manage capabilities like dynamic calculation and filtering from the application side; in contrast, Qlik’s Associative Model handles these functions for you in the Engine, making it quick and easy for a user to explore data.