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TIP: BINARY_CHECKSUM is a much-needed tool for Data Warehousing projects. It allows DBAs to detect and handle the problem of slowly changing dimensions type 2 and 3.
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Functions for Handling NULL Value SQL Server is equipped with a set of three functions to help ease the pain of using NULLs in your database system:
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NULLIF(expression, expression) ISNULL(check_expression, replacement_value) COALESCE(expression [,...n])
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NULLIF returns NULL if two expressions in the function return the same value. If the expressions are not equivalent, the function returns the value of the first expression. This function can be useful when calculating the average of columns with values that have special meaning. For example, let s assume that the author of the Asset database has created constraints or stored procedures such that a user can leave the value of the Inventory.Rent column as either null or zero (0) when equipment is not leased. In this case, the AVG function for calculating the average of the column will eliminate records containing null from the average but keep records with zero. It is not that the AVG function is implemented improperly, but that our design can be improved. It is possible to implement a workaround using the NULLIF function:
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select AVG(Rent) "average without nulls", AVG(NULLIF(Rent, 0)) "average without nulls and zeros" from Inventory
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An average calculated in this way will be different from an average calculated in the standard way:
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average without nulls average without nulls and zeros --------------------- ------------------------------100.0000 (1 row(s) affected) Warning: Null value eliminated from aggregate. 150.0000
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The ISNULL function examines the check_expression. If its value is NULL, the function returns the replacement_value. If the value of the check_expression is not NULL, the function returns the check_expression. Let s suppose you want to calculate an average based on the total number of computers in the Inventory table. You can use the ISNULL value to replace NULL values during the calculation:
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select AVG(Rent) "without nulls", AVG(ISNULL(rent, 0)) "with nulls as zeros" from Inventory
The average price of computers that counts nulls as zeroes is less than the average that ignores computers with the price set to NULL.
without nulls 100.0000 with nulls as zeros 75.0000 ------------------ ---------------------
(1 row(s) affected) Warning: Null value eliminated from aggregate.
The last line is a warning that refers to the way AVG is calculated.
NOTE: The name of this function is confusing, especially if you are a Visual Basic programmer as well. It cannot be used to test whether the value of an expression is null. You should use these operators instead:
If expression IS NULL If expression IS NOT NULL The COALESCE function is often used to coalesce (unite) values that are split into several columns. The result of the function is the first non-null expression. This function uses the following syntax:
COALESCE(expression [,...n])
In the following example, we coalesce (unite) values from three columns (Rent, Lease, and Cost) into one value (Acquisition Cost). Only one of those values in a single record is not null, and COALESCE will return it:
5:
Functions
SELECT Inventory.Inventoryid, Equipment.Make + ' ' + Equipment.Model Equipment, AcquisitionType.AcquisitionType, COALESCE(Inventory.Rent, Inventory.Lease, Inventory.Cost) [Cost] FROM Inventory INNER JOIN AcquisitionType ON Inventory.AcquisitionTypeID = AcquisitionType.AcquisitionTypeId INNER JOIN Equipment ON Inventory.EquipmentId = Equipment.EquipmentId
The result will contain just one column showing the cost of acquisition:
Inventoryid Equipment 5 6 8 10 Toshiba Portege 7020CT Toshiba Portege 7020CT Toshiba Portege 7020CT Toshiba Portege 7020CT AcquisitionType Cost Purchase Rent Lease Lease 1295.0000 200.0000 87.7500 99.9500 ----------- --------------------------------- -------------- ---------
Conversion Functions The CAST and CONVERT functions are used to convert the information in one datatype to another specified datatype explicitly. There is just one small difference between these two functions: CONVERT allows the user to specify the format of the result. Their syntax is
CAST(expression AS data_type) CONVERT (data_type[(length)], expression [, style])
In this case, the expression is any value or expression that you want to convert, and the data_type is the new datatype. For example, the following statement concatenates two strings and an error number and displays them as one string:
Select "Error ["+Cast(@@Error as varchar)+"] has occurred."
The result is an error number integrated with a sentence, which might be useful in an error handling situation:
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