Introduction to MSSQL Server 2000 Analysis Services: Distinct Count Basics: Two Perspectives

January 10, 2005

About the Series ...

This article is a member of the series Introduction to MSSQL Server 2000 Analysis Services. The series is designed to provide hands-on application of the fundamentals of MS SQL Server 2000 Analysis Services, with each installment progressively adding features and techniques designed to meet specific real - world needs. For more information on the series, as well as the hardware / software requirements to prepare for the exercises we will undertake, please see my initial article, Creating Our First Cube.

Note: Service Pack 3 updates are assumed for MSSQL Server 2000, MSSQL Server 2000 Analysis Services, and the related Books Online and Samples. Images are from a Windows 2003 Server environment, upon which I have also implemented MS Office 2003, but the steps performed in the articles, together with the views that result, will be quite similar within any environment that supports MSSQL Server 2000 and MSSQL Server 2000 Analysis Services ("Analysis Services" or "MSAS"). The same is generally true, except where differences are specifically noted, when MS Office 2000 and above are used in the environment, in cases where MS Office components are presented in the article.


In this article, we will explore distinct counts, discussing why they are useful (and often required) within the design of any robust analysis effort. Throughout this session, we will describe some of the challenges that are inherent in distinct counts, and then we will undertake practice exercises to illustrate solutions to meet example business requirements. As a part of the practical exercises, built around a hypothetical business need, we will provide an approach afforded us by the MSAS user interface, and then we will offer an alternative approach using MDX.

We will revisit DISTINCT COUNT at various points in subsequent articles in our series, examining specifics with regard to appropriate use, and details of optimization within the perspective under examination in the article concerned. In this article, we will lay the framework for those specific scenarios, and discuss the basics of DISTINCT COUNT, together with considerations that surround its use.