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SQL in a nutshell (2)

Another common database task is aggregation. That is, reducing your data by breaking it into chunks and summarizing each chunk.

This is done in SQL using the GROUP BY command. This command breaks your data into groups and applies a function from your SELECT statement to each group.

For example, if you wanted to count the number of flights from each of two origin destinations, you could use the query

SELECT COUNT(*) FROM flights
GROUP BY origin;

GROUP BY origin tells SQL that you want the output to have a row for each unique value of the origin column. The SELECT statement selects the values you want to populate each of the columns. Here, we want to COUNT() every row in each of the groups.

It's possible to GROUP BY more than one column. When you do this, the resulting table has a row for every combination of the unique values in each column. The following query counts the number of flights from SEA and PDX to every destination airport:

SELECT origin, dest, COUNT(*) FROM flights
GROUP BY origin, dest;

The output will have a row for every combination of the values in origin and dest (i.e. a row listing each origin and destination that a flight flew to). There will also be a column with the COUNT() of all the rows in each group.

Remember, a more in depth look at SQL can be found here.


What information would this query get? Remember the flights table holds information about flights that departed PDX and SEA in 2014 and 2015. Note that AVG() function gets the average value of a column!

SELECT AVG(air_time) / 60 FROM flights
GROUP BY origin, carrier;
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