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New Challenge: 2D Interval Packing

Itzik Ben-Gan has a new challenge for the new year:

Packing intervals is a classic SQL task that involves packing groups of intersecting intervals to their respective continuous intervals. In mathematics, an interval is the subset of all values of a given type, e.g., integer numbers, between some low value and some high value. In databases, intervals can manifest as date and time intervals representing things like sessions, prescription periods, hospitalization periods, schedules, or numeric intervals representing things like ranges of mile posts on a road, temperature ranges, and so on.

An example for an interval packing task is packing intervals representing sessions for billing purposes. If you conduct a web search of the term packing intervals SQL, you’ll find scores of articles on the subject, including my own.

Read on for more information about this challenge and one solution to it.