Aggregate Function in SQL
Updated on 24th Nov, 23 9.1K Views

Aggregate Function in SQL is the master of data manipulation, as they seamlessly extract valuable insights from raw datasets. In this blog, we will learn about various SQL Aggregate functions, including syntax and their implementations in SQL, with the help of examples.

Table of Contents

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What is an Aggregate Function in SQL?

An aggregate function in SQL is a function used to perform a calculation on a set of values and return a single value as output. These functions operate on multiple rows of a table and produce a summarized result. Common aggregate functions include SUM, AVG, COUNT, MIN, and MAX.

Why Do We Use Aggregate Functions in SQL?

We use aggregate functions in SQL to simplify and summarize large datasets. They help us perform calculations on multiple rows at once, giving us useful insights. These functions let us find totals, averages, counts, and other summaries across a dataset. Aggregate functions are really helpful for quickly understanding and analyzing large amounts of information stored in databases.

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Commonly Used Aggregate Functions 

SQL’s aggregate functions like SUM, AVG, COUNT, MIN, and MAX are key for summarizing data in databases. Let’s discuss some commonly used functions in detail:

Sum()

The SUM function in SQL is used to calculate the total sum of values within a specified column of a table. It adds up all the values in that column and returns a single result, representing the summation of those values.

Syntax:

SELECT SUM(column_name)
FROM table_name;

This query calculates the sum of values in the specified column (“column_name”) from the indicated table (“table_name”). The SUM function is handy for obtaining cumulative totals, such as by adding up sales figures, quantities, or any numeric data stored in a database column.

Example: Let’s consider a product table named Product2 and perform the sum() function

The below SQL statement finds the sum of the ” price” field in the “Products2” table:

Output :

Now let’s implement how to combine GROUP BY and HAVING functions with the SUM function in SQL. It is about organizing data and setting conditions for totaling specific values. 

The below SQL statement selects the ProductType, and ProductTypeName fields from Product2 having  price  greater than 10000

Output: 

Min()

The MIN() function in SQL is used to retrieve the smallest value from a specific column within a table. It scans through the values in the designated column and returns the minimum value.

Syntax:

SELECT MIN(column_name)
FROM table_name;

Example: In the above dataset named “Product2” with a column “price”, we can use the MIN() function like this

This query would fetch the smallest value present in the “price” column of the “Product2” table, providing the minimum price among all the products listed.

Output:

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Max()

The MAX() function in SQL is an aggregate function used to find the maximum value within a specified column of a table. It operates on a set of values within the column and returns the highest value present. The syntax generally used is:

Syntax:

SELECT MAX(column_name) 
FROM table_name;

Example: In the above dataset named “Product2” with a column “price”, we can use the MAX() function as shown below

This function is helpful in identifying the maximum value within a dataset, aiding in various analytical and statistical evaluations within SQL queries.

Output: 

AVERAGE()

The AVG() function in SQL is an aggregate function, which is used to determine the mean value within a designated column of a table. Its primary function involves computing the average based on numeric values present within that specific column. 

Syntax: 

SELECT AVG(column_name)
FROM table_name;

Example:  In the above dataset named “Product2” with a column “price”, we can use the AVG() function as shown below

This particular function effectively computes the average numeric value contained in the specified column of the provided table. Widely utilized in SQL queries, it serves to calculate the average or mean value of datasets, commonly applied in scenarios like calculating average salaries or scores from datasets containing relevant numerical information.

Output:

Count()

The COUNT() function in SQL simplifies data analysis by tallying the number of rows that meet certain conditions within a table. Understanding column references is essential when working with this function, as they specify which data to count. 

Syntax:

SELECT COUNT(column_name)
FROM employees;

Example: 

Output: 

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Syntax of SQL Server Aggregate Function 

The SQL Server Aggregate Function Syntax refers to the pattern used to apply aggregate functions in SQL queries:

Syntax:

SELECT AGGREGATE_FUNCTION(column_name)
FROM table_name
WHERE conditions;

Apart from the 5 most commonly used Aggregate functions, we have other server SQL functions. Let’s discuss those functions in detail:

APPROX_COUNT_DISTINCT 

The APPROX_COUNT_DISTINCT function in SQL is a function designed to quickly estimate the number of different or unique values within a specific column or expression of a table. It offers a fast, approximate count of distinct items within a dataset, which is especially beneficial for handling large volumes of data where an exact count might be time-consuming. This function offers a balance between providing a reasonably accurate count and delivering results quickly, making it a valuable tool for efficient data analysis and processing.

Syntax for the Approx_Count_Distinct function is as follows:

SELECT APPROX_COUNT_DISTINCT(column_name)
FROM table_name;

CHECKSUM_AGG

The CHECKSUM_AGG function in SQL is used to produce a checksum value based on the values in a selected column. It generates a checksum, which is a unique number representing a combination of values within a group. This function calculates a hash value by aggregating data across rows, providing a way to quickly check if any values within a dataset have changed.

Syntax:

SELECT CHECKSUM_AGG(column_name)
FROM table_name;

COUNT_BIG

The COUNT_BIG function in SQL serves a similar purpose to the COUNT function but is designed specifically for returning the number of items or rows within a dataset. It operates similarly to COUNT but uses a larger data type, BIGINT to accommodate and calculate the count for significantly larger datasets or rows than the standard COUNT function.

This function counts the number of rows in a specified column or the entire table, returning the result as a BIGINT data type. It differs from COUNT, which returns the count as an INT data type and might not handle extremely large datasets efficiently.

The syntax for using COUNT_BIG() is as follows:

SELECT COUNT_BIG(column_name)
FROM table_name;

GROUPING

The GROUPING function in SQL is highly utilized for categorizing data rows according to one or multiple columns and then applying aggregate computations to these groups. It is helpful in identifying summary rows in result sets, enabling the distinction between aggregated (summary) and non-aggregated (detailed) rows. This distinction is beneficial for better understanding and interpreting complex aggregated data, especially when you need to differentiate between grouped and summarized information in your SQL queries.

Syntax: GROUPING (column_expression)

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Grouping_ID

The GROUPING_ID function in SQL is used for advanced grouping operations in queries involving the GROUP BY clause. It helps in generating grouping sets by creating unique identifiers for the different levels of grouping in the result set. This function assigns a binary representation to each grouping column, assigning a bit for each column in the grouping set. 

For example, if you have two grouping columns, the GROUPING_ID function generates values ranging from 0 to 3 (in binary: 00, 01, 10, 11) to denote the different combinations of grouping columns.

The result of the GROUPING_ID function is particularly helpful when dealing with roll-up or cube operations, where multiple levels of summarization are applied to the data. It allows users to easily identify and differentiate the levels of aggregation in the result set.

Syntax: SELECT GROUPING_ID(column_name1 , column_name2)
FROM table_name
GROUP BY column_name1, column_name2;

STDEV

The STDEV function in SQL is used to compute the statistical standard deviation of a set of values within a specified column. It calculates the extent of variation or deviation of data points from the mean value in a dataset.

This function is beneficial in various analytical scenarios. It helps in understanding the distribution of values within a dataset, identifying outliers, and assessing the consistency or variability of data points. However, it is important to note that STDEV computes the sample standard deviation, not the population standard deviation unless the entire population is considered in the calculation.

To use the STDEV function in SQL, follow the below syntax:

SELECT STDEV(column_name)
FROM table_name;

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STDEVP

The STDEVP function in SQL is used to calculate the standard deviation of an entire population. It measures the amount of variation or dispersion within a dataset, indicating how spread out the values are around the mean or average value of the population. STDEVP considers all values in the dataset to compute the standard deviation. It’s essential for understanding the spread of data points around the mean. Higher values suggest more significant variability, indicating that data points are more spread out from the average.

Syntax:

SELECT STDEVP(column_name)
FROM table_name;

STRING_AGG

The STRING_AGG function in SQL is used to combine strings from different rows into just one string. It is super useful when you are trying to organize data neatly. You can find this function in most modern SQL databases, such as Microsoft SQL Server, PostgreSQL, and MySQL. It lets you mix values from lots of rows into a single column, using a special character to separate them. This makes it super easy to create reports, summaries, or data visuals when you need to bring info from different rows together into one sentence.

Syntax:

STRING_AGG(expression, delimiter)

VAR

The VAR function in SQL is designed to calculate the variance of a set of values within a dataset. This function evaluates how much the values in a dataset deviate from the mean or average value. By quantifying the spread or distribution of the data points, VAR provides insight into the variability or dispersion of the dataset. It is an essential statistical measure used in analyzing data sets to understand the extent of variability present within the values, aiding in various analytical assessments and decision-making processes.

Syntax:

SELECT VAR(column_name)
FROM table_name
WHERE conditions;

VARP

The VARP function in SQL is an aggregate function used to compute the variance of a set of values within a given dataset. It calculates the statistical variance, which measures the dispersion of data points around the mean or average value. This function considers all values in the dataset when calculating the variance. 

The VARP function evaluates the variability of data points within a population, providing insights into how much individual data points deviate from the dataset’s average value. It is particularly useful in statistical analysis to understand the distribution and variability of a dataset. Therefore, it aids in making informed decisions and drawing conclusions from data trends.

Syntax: 

VARP(expression)

Conclusion

With these aggregate functions in SQL, businesses can manage data effectively, making smart decisions for success. These functions simplify tasks like finding totals, averages, or counts, making it easier to understand complex data. They quickly analyze large datasets, giving them a competitive edge and valuable insights for informed decisions in business. As more data is collected, these functions might get better at handling complicated analysis, helping businesses extract insights faster. The use of machine learning and AI could also enhance the abilities of SQL Aggregate Functions in analyzing data.

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FAQs

What are Aggregate Functions in SQL?

Aggregate functions in SQL are operations that perform calculations on multiple rows of a table and return a single value as output. They include functions like SUM, AVG, COUNT, MIN, and MAX.

How do Aggregate Functions simplify data analysis?

These functions simplify data analysis by condensing large datasets into summarized results. They help in obtaining totals, averages, counts, and other informative summaries from extensive data.

Can Aggregate Functions handle different data types?

 Yes, Aggregate functions in SQL can handle various data types depending on the function used. For instance, SUM works with numeric values, while COUNT can tally rows irrespective of data type.

Are Aggregate Functions useful in everyday scenarios?

Yes, They are very useful in numerous real-life situations. For example, calculating average sales, finding the highest or lowest value in a dataset, or totaling quantities sold are common uses.

Do Aggregate Functions work with NULL values?

Most Aggregate functions ignore NULL values while performing calculations. However, functions like COUNT(*) consider NULLs, while functions like SUM or AVG exclude them from calculations involving numeric data.

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