Short for Online Analytical Processing, a category of software tools that provides analysis of data stored in a database. OLAP tools enable users to analyze different dimensions of multidimensional data. For example, it provides time series and trend analysis views. OLAP often is used in data mining.
The chief component of OLAP is the OLAP server, which sits between a client and a database management systems (DBMS). The OLAP server understands how data is organized in the database and has special functions for analyzing the data. There are OLAP servers available for nearly all the major database systems.