Summarizing Data with CUBE Queries

April 30, 2003


One of the motivations behind using databases to hold information is so that decisions can be made on the data. For example, the benefit of a retailer storing product sales information in a database is that the retailer can examine reports on the data, showing interesting facts, such as what products are the top sellers, where a particular item is selling best, the gross revenue generated from all sales of a particular item or store, and so on.

Typically, interesting data has different dimensions. A dimension can be thought of as an attribute with a set of possible values. In the database world, this maps to a table column. For example, an eCommerce store might have a table tracking all sales, with a record for each item sold. One dimension is the item that was sold; another, the store from which is was sold. Oftentimes, it is useful to view summary data for a particular dimension, such as all items sold at a particular store, or all of the sales for a particular store. In this article we'll examine how to use native SQL commands to provide such summary queries!

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