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Coalesce in SQL and R

John MacKintosh gives us a primer on the COALESCE function in both SQL and R:

What does coalesce mean? In the English language, it is generally used to convey a coming together, or creating one whole body, mass or system. How does that help us when working with data? We spend a lot of time cleaning our data, surely the last thing we want to do is lump it all together?

Click through for detail on the nuances of COALESCE(). H/T R-Bloggers.