Sorting and Removing Duplicates
OverviewTeaching: 10 min
Exercises: 10 minQuestions
How can I sort a query’s results?
How can I remove duplicate values from a query’s results?Objectives
Write queries that display results in a particular order.
Write queries that eliminate duplicate values from data.
In beginning our examination of the Antarctic data, we want to know:
- what kind of quantity measurements were taken at each site;
- which scientists took measurements on the expedition;
- the sites where each scientist took measurements
To determine which measurements were taken at each site,
we can examine the
Data is often redundant,
so queries often return redundant information.
if we select the quantities that have been measured
we get this:
SELECT quant FROM Survey;
This result makes it difficult to see all of the different types of
quant in the Survey table. We can eliminate the redundant output to
make the result more readable by adding the
DISTINCT keyword to our
SELECT DISTINCT quant FROM Survey;
If we want to determine which visit (stored in the
we can use the
DISTINCT keyword on multiple columns.
If we select more than one column,
distinct sets of values are returned
(in this case pairs, because we are selecting two columns):
SELECT DISTINCT taken, quant FROM Survey;
Notice in both cases that duplicates are removed even if the rows they come from didn’t appear to be adjacent in the database table.
Our next task is to identify the scientists on the expedition by looking at the
As we mentioned earlier,
database records are not stored in any particular order.
This means that query results aren’t necessarily sorted,
and even if they are,
we often want to sort them in a different way,
e.g., by their identifier instead of by their personal name.
We can do this in SQL by adding an
ORDER BY clause to our query:
SELECT * FROM Person ORDER BY id;
By default, when we use ORDER BY results are sorted in ascending order of the column we specify (i.e., from least to greatest).
We can sort in the opposite order using
DESC (for “descending”):
A note on ordering
While it may look that the records are consistent every time we ask for them in this lesson, that is because no one has changed or modified any of the data so far. Remember to use ORDER BY if you want the rows returned to have any sort of consistent or predictable order.
SELECT * FROM person ORDER BY id DESC;
(And if we want to make it clear that we’re sorting in ascending order,
we can use
ASC instead of
In order to look at which scientist measured quantities during each visit,
we can look again at the
We can also sort on several fields at once.
this query sorts results first in ascending order by
and then in descending order by
within each group of equal
SELECT taken, person, quant FROM Survey ORDER BY taken ASC, person DESC;
This query gives us a good idea of which scientist was involved in which visit, and what measurements they performed during the visit.
Looking at the table, it seems like some scientists specialized in certain kinds of measurements. We can examine which scientists performed which measurements by selecting the appropriate columns and removing duplicates.
SELECT DISTINCT quant, person FROM Survey ORDER BY quant ASC;
Finding Distinct Dates
Write a query that selects distinct dates from the
SELECT DISTINCT dated FROM Visited;
dated 1927-02-08 1927-02-10 1930-01-07 1930-01-12 1930-02-26 1932-01-14 1932-03-22
Displaying Full Names
Write a query that displays the full names of the scientists in the
Persontable, ordered by family name.
SELECT personal, family FROM Person ORDER BY family ASC;
personal family Frank Danforth William Dyer Anderson Lake Frank Pabodie Valentina Roerich
The records in a database table are not intrinsically ordered: if we want to display them in some order, we must specify that explicitly with ORDER BY.
The values in a database are not guaranteed to be unique: if we want to eliminate duplicates, we must specify that explicitly as well using DISTINCT.