InterBase Quick Start: Part IV - Using Aggregate Functions

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SQL provides aggregate functions that calculate a single value from a group of values. A group of values is all the data in a particular column for a given set of rows. You can use aggregate functions in a SELECT clause or anywhere in a SELECT statement where you specify a value.

The following table lists the aggregate functions that InterBase supports:

Function What It Does

Returns the average value for a group of values.


Counts the number of values for a group of values.


Returns the minimum value in a group of values.


Returns the sumof numeric values in a group of values.

Image 025.jpgUsing Aggregate Functions

  1. Enter the following statement to find out how many different job codes are there in the Job table:
    SELECT COUNT(job_code)
    FROM   Job
  2. However, this is not what you want, because the query included duplicate job codes in the count. To count only the unique job codes, use the DISTINCT keyword as follows:
    FROM   Job

    You can see that there are 14 different job codes.

  3. Enter the following to retrieve the average budget of departments from the Department table:
    SELECT AVG(budget)
    FROM   Department

    The result is 648095.23.

  4. A single SELECT can retrieve multiple aggregate functions. Enter the following statement to retrieve the number of employees, the earliest hire date, and the total salary paid to all employees:
    SELECT COUNT(emp_no),
    FROM   Employee

Image 025.jpgAggregate Functions and NULL Values

If a value involved in an aggregate calculation is NULL or unknown, the function ignores the entire row to avoid wrong results. For example, when calculating an average over fifty rows, if ten rows contain a NULL value, then the average is taken over forty values, not fifty. To confirm that aggregate functions ignore NULL rows, perform the following test:

  1. Retreive all the rows in the Department table:
    SELECT dept_no,
    FROM   Department

    There are 21 rows, and four of them have NULL values in the mngr_no column.

  2. Now count the rows in the mngr_no column:
    SELECT COUNT(mngr_no)
    FROM   Department

    The result is 17, not 21. COUNT does not count the rows with NULL value.

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