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SQL MIN-MAX Functions


In SQL, the MIN and MAX functions are used to find the minimum and maximum values in a set of data, respectively.

The MIN function takes a column name as its argument and returns the smallest value in that column. For example, the following SQL statement finds the smallest salary in the employees table:

SELECT MIN(salary) 
FROM employees;

The MAX function works in the same way, but returns the largest value in a column instead of the smallest.


FROM employees;

You can also use both min and max function together with group by statement:

SELECT department, MIN(salary), MAX(salary) 
FROM employees 
GROUP BY department;

It will give the department wise minimum and maximum salary of the employees.

You can use other aggregate functions like COUNT(), SUM() or AVG() with MIN() and MAX().

The MIN() and MAX() functions can also be used with a WHERE clause to filter the data that is used to calculate the minimum and maximum values.

SELECT MIN(salary) 
FROM employees 
WHERE department = 'IT';

This SQL statement finds the smallest salary in the employees table for employees that are in the "IT" department only.

Best Practices

There are several best practices to keep in mind when using the MIN() and MAX() functions in SQL:

  • Use indexes: MIN() and MAX() functions are used to find the smallest or largest value in a column, respectively. Make sure that the column you are searching on has an index, otherwise the query will be slow.

  • Use the right data types: The MIN() and MAX() functions work best with numeric data types (such as INT, BIGINT, FLOAT, etc.). If you are using non-numeric data types (such as VARCHAR or DATE), you may need to convert the data to a numeric format before using the MIN() and MAX() functions.

  • Use aggregate functions: MIN() and MAX() are aggregate functions, meaning that they return a single value based on multiple rows of data. Make sure to use them in the context of a SELECT statement that also includes a GROUP BY clause.

  • Use aliases: To make it easier to reference the results of the MIN() and MAX() functions in the rest of your query, you can use the AS keyword to give them an alias.

  • Be careful when using NULL values: The MIN() and MAX() functions ignore null values by default. If you have null values in the column you are searching on and you want to include them in your query, you'll need to use the COALESCE or ISNULL function to replace nulls with a specific value.

  • Avoid unnecessary use of the MAX() or MIN() functions, as using LIMIT 1 in combination with ORDER BY DESC or ASC on the column in question results in faster queries more often than not.

For example instead of

FROM table1 
WHERE column_name = (SELECT MAX(column_name) 
FROM table1);

you could use:

FROM table1 
ORDER BY column_name 

This can make a big performance improvement in case of large data set.