Relationships in Unified Modeling Language

Association can be defined as a semantic relationship in unified model language (UML). It informs us how classifiers are related to each other. An instance of classifiers may be linked to one another. In various aggregations, they can be logically or physically combined.

A single arrow is used to represent an association relationship in UML. The association relationship indicates a pathway of statement or linking between two or more objects.

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This pathway is utilized by objects to transfer messages as per functional requirements. Relationships in UML are used to represent a link between ranges of objects. In UML, a relationship is an association between structural, behavioral or group features.

Association is a structural correlation that characterizes objects that can be linked or connected with one more object within the structure. Some limitations of the association relationship can be as follows:

Hidden – This is a necessary concept for a relationship that denotes that the association is not apparent.

Variable – Variable limitation states that the association among a range of objects in the structure can be additional, detached and customized as per the obligation.

Planned – Planned restrictions state that the group of instructions is terminating at the same endpoint.

Insert merely – This states that innovative relations can be supplementary to an object that is located at the conclusion of a new relationship.

Unmoving – The point of time when linking in between the objects is established and cannot be changed anymore.

Apart from this, a class can also be formed that has relationship qualities. That class is called an association class in a structure.

Reflexive association:

In UML, a reflexive association is considered a sub type of an association relationship. It could be defined as an association of a class to itself. A reflexive association could be asymmetric or symmetric. The associations of the same class may have semantically different ends from each other in an asymmetric reflexive association. It may be a parent-child, supervisor-subordinate or predecessor-successor type relationship. In this case, the lower bound should necessarily be zero at both ends. On the other hand in the case of symmetric reflexive associations, there is no logical distinction in the semantics of each association’s end. For example, there is a course that has two subjects, namely English and math. A reflexive association expresses that the link between English and math can be presented as instances of the same class, defined as a course.

Directed association:

A directed association is connected to tracking the flow inside a relationship program. The flow is going in a directed association between entities. In this association, a class follows the direction from one class to another class in a fixed direction. This association is indicated by a solid line topped with an arrowhead. This can be understood through the simple example of a server and client. The server follows and processes the client’s instruction. The flow of the message is unidirectional and follows the client’s instructions. Thus, a directed link between entities can be defined as a directed association between client and server.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Association Relationships

Any multi phase data representation can be exemplified using an association relationship to expand on information.

The function of a class can be made implicit with the help of different association relationship diagrams.


The wrong use of association relationship indication can jumble the whole procedure.

UML has grown in its size and complexity since its origin, thus making it hard to learn.

Other Forms of Association Relationships

In UML, aggregation is a category of an association relationship. This relationship can be understood very simply. An object that belongs to one class can access class objects within its class, as well as other class objects. For example, consider a car and fuel. Fuel is required to move a car, but fuel is not exclusive to only one vehicle, as it can be used in assorted machinery. Here fuel has significance even without the car. Such an association is known as an aggregation relationship.


A composition is not known to be used in standard relationships, but despite that it is used in multiple applications by programmers. A complex aggregation is a form of an aggregation association that is unique. It can be used to establish a two-way association among things. The second main characteristic is that it is a complete or partial association. Composite aggregation represents a binary relationship and in case it is deleted everything associated with it will also vanish. For example, if a main folder gets deleted, that means that all files inside it will also get deleted. The parent relationship is represented here by a folder that has a direct association with the files it contains. In such an association, an object can be a part of only one program at a time. For another example, take an instance with a window type arrangement. A structure can fit only one windowpane accurately. In a composite aggregation, the entire arrangement is accountable for the nature of its division and resources that the composite must run within the formation.

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