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Using APPLY To Aggregate Unpivoted Data

Dan Clemens gives us yet another practical use of the APPLY operator:

I had a situation last week where I needed to find the MIN() and MAX() values of some data. Normally this would be pretty straightforward, but the problem was I needed to identify the MIN() and MAX() values amongst multiple columns. So today I bring you a SQL tip using APPLY.

Looking at sys.procedures we can see I have a create_date and a modify_date column for each record. What if we needed to return the MIN() or MAX() value from those 2 (or more) columns?

FROM sys.procedures AS p
WHERE p.[name] = 'ChangePassword';

In this two-column example, it’s not too difficult.  As you add more and more columns, the solution remains the same, though the urge to ask why all of these dates are unpivoted might increase…