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A domain model, or Domain Object Model (DOM) in problem solving and software engineering can be thought of as a conceptual model of a domain of interest ( referred to as a problem domain) which describes the various entities, their attributes and relationships, plus the constraints that govern the integrity of the model elements comprising that problem domain.
The domain model is created in order to represent the vocabulary and key concepts of the problem domain. The domain model also identifies the relationships among all the entities within the scope of the problem domain, and commonly identifies their attributes. A domain model that encapsulates methods within the entities is more properly associated with object oriented models. The domain model provides a structural view of the domain that can be complemented by other dynamic views, such as Use Case models.
An important benefit of a domain model is that it describes and constrains the scope of the problem domain. The domain model can be effectively used to verify and validate the understanding of the problem domain among various stakeholders. It is especially helpful as a communication tool and a focusing point both amongst the different members of the business team as well as between the technical and business teams.
A well-thought domain model serves as a clear depiction of the conceptual fabric of the problem domain and therefore is invaluable to ensure all stakeholders are aligned in the scope and meaning of the concepts indigenous to the problem domain. A high fidelity domain model can also serve as an essential input to solution implementation within a software development cycle since the model elements comprising the problem domain can serve as key inputs to code construction, whether that construction is achieved manually or through automated code generation approaches. It is important, however, not to compromise the richness and clarity of the business meaning depicted in the domain model by expressing it directly in a form influenced by design or implementation concerns.
The domain model is one of the central artifacts in the project development approach called Feature Driven Development (FDD).
In UML, a class diagram is used to represent the domain model. In Domain-driven design, the domain model (Entities and Value objects) is a part of the Domain layer which often also includes other concepts such as Services.
Sample domain model for a health insurance
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