Skip to content


ANSI SQL: A Foundation for Database Querying

What is ANSI SQL?

ANSI SQL, short for American National Standards Institute Structured Query Language, is a standardized programming language used for managing and querying relational databases. It provides a consistent and structured approach to interact with databases, making it easier to work with data across different database management systems (DBMS) and ensuring portability of SQL code across various platforms.

Why Does ANSI SQL Matter?

ANSI SQL plays a crucial role in the world of data management for several reasons:

  • Portability: ANSI SQL’s standardization ensures that SQL queries written for one DBMS can be easily adapted to work with others. This portability reduces vendor lock-in and makes it feasible to migrate from one database system to another without extensive code rewrites.

  • Compatibility: By adhering to ANSI SQL standards, developers and database administrators can create SQL code that’s compatible with a wide range of DBMS, including popular ones like Oracle, MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQL Server, and more.

  • Consistency: ANSI SQL provides a common set of syntax rules and guidelines for working with relational databases. This consistency simplifies the learning process for SQL and ensures that best practices can be applied universally.

  • Interoperability: It enables applications to communicate effectively with databases, allowing software developers to create robust, data-driven applications that can interact with various database systems.

  • SQL Syntax Rules ANSI SQL defines a set of syntax rules that govern how SQL queries are written and executed. These rules include conventions for formatting queries, specifying data types, and defining relationships between tables. Adhering to these rules helps ensure that SQL queries are both accurate and efficient.

SELECT FROM Statements

The SELECT statement is one of the fundamental SQL commands and is used to retrieve data from a database. The FROM clause in the SELECT statement specifies the table or tables from which to retrieve data. It allows for querying data from one or more tables, enabling complex data retrieval and analysis.


SELECT column1, column2
FROM table_name
WHERE condition;

AS Keyword

The AS keyword in SQL is used to provide an alias or alternate name for a table or column in the result set. Aliases are helpful for making the output of a query more readable or for giving temporary names to calculated or aggregated values.


SELECT first_name AS "First Name", last_name AS "Last Name"
FROM employees;

In this example, the AS keyword is used to assign more meaningful labels to the columns in the result set.

WHERE Keyword

The WHERE clause is used to filter rows returned by a SELECT statement. It allows you to specify a condition that must be met for a row to be included in the result set. This condition can involve comparisons, logical operators, and other SQL functions.


SELECT product_name, price
FROM products
WHERE price > 50;

In this query, the WHERE clause filters the rows to only include products with a price greater than 50.

Going Deeper into WHERE Clauses in SQL

The WHERE clause in SQL is a powerful tool for filtering rows based on specific conditions. It allows you to retrieve only the data that meets certain criteria, making your queries more precise and relevant. In this section, we’ll delve deeper into the capabilities of the WHERE clause.

Conditionals with Different Data Types

SQL supports a wide range of data types, including numeric, text, date, and more. When writing WHERE clauses, it’s important to use appropriate operators for the data type you’re working with. Here are some common operators for different data types:

Numeric Comparisons:

  • = (equals)
  • != or <> (not equal)
  • < (less than)
  • > (greater than)
  • <= (less than or equal to)
  • >= (greater than or equal to)


SELECT product_name, price
FROM products
WHERE price > 50;

Text Comparisons:

  • = (equals)
  • != or <> (not equal)
  • LIKE (pattern matching with wildcard characters)
  • ILIKE (case-insensitive pattern matching, not supported in all databases)

Example using LIKE:

SELECT customer_name
FROM customers
WHERE customer_name LIKE 'John%';

AND and OR

The AND and OR operators are used to combine multiple conditions in a WHERE clause.

  • AND: Returns rows where all specified conditions are true.
  • OR: Returns rows where at least one of the specified conditions is true. Example with AND:
SELECT product_name, price
FROM products
WHERE category = 'Electronics' AND price > 1000;

Example with OR:

SELECT product_name, price
FROM products
WHERE category = 'Electronics' OR category = 'Appliances';

Using LIKE and ILIKE

The LIKE operator is used for pattern matching in text columns. It allows you to use wildcard characters:

  • % matches any sequence of characters.
  • _ matches any single character.

Example using LIKE:

SELECT product_name
FROM products
WHERE product_name LIKE 'Laptop%';

In some databases, like PostgreSQL, you can also use the ILIKE operator for case-insensitive pattern matching:

Copy code
SELECT customer_name
FROM customers
WHERE customer_name ILIKE 'john%';


The BETWEEN operator is used to filter rows within a specified range. It is often used with numeric and date columns.

Example with numeric values:

SELECT order_id, order_date
FROM orders
WHERE order_total BETWEEN 1000 AND 2000;

Example with date values:

SELECT employee_name, hire_date
FROM employees
WHERE hire_date BETWEEN '2020-01-01' AND '2023-12-31';

Aggregations in ANSI SQL: Analyzing and Summarizing Data

Aggregations in ANSI SQL are powerful functions that allow you to perform calculations on groups of rows in a database table. These functions are essential for summarizing data, generating reports, and gaining insights from your data. In this section, we’ll explore some common SQL aggregation functions and how to use them.

Common SQL Aggregation Functions


The COUNT function calculates the number of rows in a specified column or the number of rows that meet a certain condition.


SELECT COUNT(*) AS total_customers
FROM customers;


The SUM function calculates the total sum of numeric values in a specified column.


SELECT SUM(order_total) AS total_sales
FROM orders;


The AVG function calculates the average (mean) value of numeric data in a specified column.


SELECT AVG(salary) AS average_salary
FROM employees;

MIN and MAX:

The MIN and MAX functions retrieve the minimum and maximum values from a specified column, respectively.


SELECT MIN(product_price) AS lowest_price, MAX(product_price) AS highest_price
FROM products;


The GROUP BY clause is used in conjunction with aggregation functions to group rows based on one or more columns. This allows you to perform aggregations on each group independently.


SELECT department_id, AVG(salary) AS avg_salary
FROM employees
GROUP BY department_id;

How to Use Aggregations in SQL

Using aggregations in SQL typically involves the following steps:

  • SELECT Statement: Start with a SELECT statement to specify the columns you want to include in the result set. You can also use aliases to provide more meaningful names for the aggregated values.

  • Aggregation Function: Choose an appropriate aggregation function (e.g., COUNT, SUM, AVG, MIN, or MAX) and apply it to the desired column(s).

  • GROUP BY Clause (optional): If you want to perform aggregations on groups of data, use the GROUP BY clause to specify the grouping column(s). This step is essential when you want to calculate aggregations for each group separately.

  • Filtering (optional): You can further refine your results by adding a WHERE clause to filter rows before applying aggregations.

  • Ordering (optional): You can use the ORDER BY clause to sort the results based on any column(s) in ascending or descending order.

Example Using Aggregations with GROUP BY:

SELECT department_id, AVG(salary) AS avg_salary
FROM employees
GROUP BY department_id
HAVING AVG(salary) > 50000
ORDER BY avg_salary DESC;

In this example, we calculate the average salary for each department, filter out departments with an average salary less than $50,000, and then order the results by average salary in descending order.

SQL aggregations are essential for summarizing and analyzing large datasets. They help you derive meaningful insights and make data-driven decisions. Whether you’re calculating totals, averages, or identifying minimum and maximum values, mastering SQL aggregation functions is a crucial skill for working with relational databases.

Combining Data in SQL

Combining datasets in ANSI SQL is a fundamental operation when working with relational databases. There are several ways to combine data from multiple tables, and SQL provides different techniques to achieve this. The most common methods include:


A SQL JOIN operation combines rows from two or more tables based on a related column between them. There are several types of joins:


Returns only the rows where there is a match in both tables based on the specified join condition.

SELECT orders.order_id, customers.customer_name
FROM orders
INNER JOIN customers ON orders.customer_id = customers.customer_id;


Returns all rows from the left table and the matched rows from the right table. If there is no match, NULL values are returned for columns from the right table.

SELECT employees.employee_id, employees.employee_name, departments.department_name
FROM employees
LEFT JOIN departments ON employees.department_id = departments.department_id;


Similar to a left join but returns all rows from the right table and the matched rows from the left table.

SELECT departments.department_id, employees.employee_name
FROM departments
RIGHT JOIN employees ON departments.department_id = employees.department_id;


Returns all rows from both tables and includes NULL values where there is no match.

SELECT products.product_id, orders.order_id
FROM products
FULL OUTER JOIN order_items ON products.product_id = order_items.product_id;


The UNION operator combines the results of two or more SELECT statements into a single result set. It removes duplicate rows by default unless you use UNION ALL.

SELECT employee_name FROM employees
SELECT customer_name FROM customers;


The INTERSECT operator returns only the distinct rows that appear in both result sets of two SELECT statements.

SELECT product_id FROM order_items
SELECT product_id FROM returned_items;


The EXCEPT (or MINUS) operator returns all distinct rows from the first SELECT statement that are not present in the second SELECT statement.

SELECT customer_id FROM customers
SELECT customer_id FROM high_value_customers;

CROSS JOIN (or Cartesian Product)

A CROSS JOIN combines all rows from one table with all rows from another table, resulting in a Cartesian product. Be cautious when using this operation, as it can produce a large number of rows.

SELECT employees.employee_name, departments.department_name
FROM employees
CROSS JOIN departments;


A self join is a type of join where a table is joined with itself. This is often used when you have hierarchical or self-referencing data structures.

SELECT e1.employee_name, e2.employee_name AS manager_name
FROM employees e1
LEFT JOIN employees e2 ON e1.manager_id = e2.employee_id;

These methods provide SQL developers with a wide range of options to combine and analyze data from different tables. The choice of which method to use depends on the specific requirements of the task at hand, including the relationships between tables and the desired outcome.

Window Functions in ANSI SQL: Analyzing Data with Context

Window functions, also known as windowing or analytic functions, are a powerful feature in ANSI SQL that enable you to perform calculations across a set of rows related to the current row within a result set. These functions allow you to gain insights into your data by considering a “window” or a subset of rows within the result, without collapsing the result into a single summary row. Here’s a section on window functions and when to use them:

What Are Window Functions?

Window functions operate on a set of rows called a “window” that is defined based on the result set’s ordering or partitioning. They are typically used in the SELECT clause of a query and can be applied to individual rows without grouping or aggregating the data.

Common Window Functions:


Assigns a unique integer to each row in the result set based on the specified order. It can help you identify the rank or position of rows within a result.

SELECT employee_name, department, ROW_NUMBER() OVER (ORDER BY salary DESC) AS ranking
FROM employees;


These functions assign a ranking to rows based on the specified order. RANK() leaves gaps for duplicate values, while DENSE_RANK() does not.

SELECT product_name, price, RANK() OVER (PARTITION BY category ORDER BY price) AS category_rank
FROM products;

LAG() and LEAD():

These functions retrieve the values from the previous and next rows in the specified order, respectively.

SELECT order_id, order_date, LAG(order_date) OVER (ORDER BY order_date) AS prev_order_date
FROM orders;

SUM(), AVG(), MIN(), and MAX():

These functions calculate aggregate values over a window of rows. They allow you to perform calculations on a subset of data without collapsing the entire result set.

SELECT product_name, price, AVG(price) OVER (PARTITION BY category) AS avg_price
FROM products;

When to Use Window Functions:

Window functions are incredibly useful in various scenarios, including:

  • Ranking and Ordering: When you need to assign a rank to rows based on specific criteria, such as sales performance or employee salaries.

  • Moving Averages and Trends: To calculate rolling averages or moving totals over a set of consecutive rows, helping identify trends or anomalies in your data.

  • Comparing Values: When you want to compare the current row’s value to previous or subsequent rows, such as calculating the difference between consecutive data points.

  • Partitioned Aggregations: To calculate aggregations (e.g., average, sum) within specific partitions of your data, useful for grouping data without using a GROUP BY clause.

  • Pagination: For building pagination queries where you need to retrieve a specific range of rows from a result set, like implementing “Load More” functionality in web applications.

  • Analyzing Time Series Data: When dealing with time-series data, window functions help you analyze patterns and trends over time.

In summary, window functions in ANSI SQL are a versatile tool for analyzing data with context, enabling you to perform calculations and comparisons within specific windows of rows. They are especially valuable when you need to work with individual rows while maintaining the structure of your result set, making them a critical feature for advanced data analysis and reporting tasks.

ANSI SQL DDL and DML: Managing and Manipulating Data

In ANSI SQL (Structured Query Language), Data Definition Language (DDL) and Data Manipulation Language (DML) are two essential categories of SQL commands that allow you to manage and manipulate data within a relational database. Each serves a distinct purpose and is used for different aspects of database management. Let’s explore both DDL and DML in detail:

Data Definition Language (DDL):

DDL is primarily concerned with the structure and organization of the database. It includes commands for creating, altering, and dropping database objects such as tables, indexes, and constraints. Key DDL commands include:


The CREATE statement is used to define and create new database objects, such as tables, indexes, views, and schemas.

CREATE TABLE employees (
    employee_id INT PRIMARY KEY,
    employee_name VARCHAR(50),
    department_id INT


The ALTER statement is used to modify the structure of existing database objects, such as adding or dropping columns or constraints.

ALTER TABLE employees
ADD COLUMN hire_date DATE;


The DROP statement is used to remove database objects like tables, indexes, or views.

DROP TABLE employees;


The TRUNCATE statement removes all rows from a table while keeping the table’s structure intact.



The CREATE INDEX statement creates an index on one or more columns of a table to improve query performance.

CREATE INDEX idx_employee_name ON employees(employee_name);

Data Manipulation Language (DML):

DML is focused on inserting, updating, and deleting data within database tables. It allows you to interact with the data stored in the database. Key DML commands include:


The INSERT statement adds new rows of data to a table.

INSERT INTO employees (employee_name, department_id)
VALUES ('John Doe', 3);


The UPDATE statement modifies existing data in a table based on specified conditions.

UPDATE employees
SET department_id = 4
WHERE employee_id = 101;


The DELETE statement removes rows from a table based on specified conditions.

DELETE FROM employees
WHERE department_id = 5;


The MERGE statement combines the INSERT, UPDATE, and DELETE operations into a single statement, useful for performing upserts (insert or update) based on certain conditions.

MERGE INTO target_table AS T
USING source_table AS S
ON =
    UPDATE SET T.value = S.value
    INSERT (id, value) VALUES (, S.value);

In summary, ANSI SQL provides a comprehensive set of commands for managing and manipulating data in relational databases. DDL commands are used for defining and altering the database structure, while DML commands enable you to query, insert, update, and delete data. A solid understanding of both DDL and DML is essential for effective database management and application development.