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SQL Anywhere 11.0.1 » SQL Anywhere Server - SQL Usage » Querying and Modifying Data » Querying data » Aggregate functions


Applying aggregate functions to grouped data

In addition to providing information about an entire table, aggregate functions can be used on groups of rows. The GROUP BY clause arranges rows into groups, and aggregate functions return a single value for each group of rows.

List the sales representatives and the number of orders each has taken

A GROUP BY clause tells SQL Anywhere to partition the set of all the rows that would otherwise be returned. All rows in each partition, or group, have the same values in the named column or columns. There is only one group for each unique value or set of values. In this case, all the rows in each group have the same SalesRepresentative value.

Aggregate functions such as COUNT are applied to the rows in each group. So, this result set displays the total number of rows in each group. The results of the query consist of one row for each sales rep ID number. Each row contains the sales rep ID, and the total number of sales orders for that sales representative.

Whenever GROUP BY is used, the resulting table has one row for each column or set of columns named in the GROUP BY clause. See The GROUP BY clause: Organizing query results into groups.

A common error with GROUP BY

A common error with GROUP BY is to try to get information that cannot properly be put in a group. For example, the following query gives an error.

SELECT SalesRepresentative, Surname, COUNT( * )
   FROM SalesOrders KEY JOIN Employees
   GROUP BY SalesRepresentative;

The error Function or column reference to 'Surname' in the select list must also appear in a GROUP BY is reported because SQL Anywhere cannot be sure that each of the result rows for an employee with a given ID all have the same last name.

To fix this error, add the column to the GROUP BY clause.

SELECT SalesRepresentative, Surname, COUNT( * )
   FROM SalesOrders KEY JOIN Employees
   GROUP BY SalesRepresentative, Surname
   ORDER BY SalesRepresentative;

If this is not appropriate, you can instead use an aggregate function to select only one value:

SELECT SalesRepresentative, MAX( Surname ), COUNT( * )
   FROM SalesOrders KEY JOIN Employees
   GROUP BY SalesRepresentative
   ORDER BY SalesRepresentative;

The MAX function chooses the maximum (last alphabetically) Surname from the detail rows for each group. This statement is valid because there can be only one distinct maximum value. In this case, the same Surname appears on every detail row within a group.