Updates With Joins

Kevin Feasel

2016-05-23

Syntax

James Anderson shows a case in which an update with a join clause can lead to undesirable results:

That’s right; SQL Server will just pick any child. It will not update the parent row for each child. When the MERGE statement runs into this problem, it raises an error and rolls back the UPDATE but our query will silently pick any value and move on. We don’t want to update data like this, we want our query to dictate the logic explicitly. This will require some changes to our query.

I prefer to write these types of updates with the use of a CTE. This allows us to easily highlight the SELECT in the CTE and execute it to see which rows will be updated (@variables can cause problems here though). Adding a COUNT can help to identify the problem in the previous query.

Highlight and execute the code inside the CTE below to check for duplicates. If this returns 0 rows then you are good to remove the COUNT, GROUP BY and HAVING then add the name columns before executing the whole statement.

When writing T-SQL updates with joins, it’s important to consider whether the grain changes, and if that change can make a difference in your update set.

How WITH ENCRYPTION Works

Paul White digs into the WITH ENCRYPTION clause:

The core RC4 algorithm is well-known, and relatively simple. It would be better implemented in a .Net language for efficiency and performance reasons, but there is a T-SQL implementation below.

These two T-SQL functions implement the RC4 key-scheduling algorithm and pseudorandom number generator, and were originally written by SQL Server MVP Peter Larsson. I have a made some minor modifications to improve performance a little, and allow LOB-length binaries to be encoded and decoded. This part of the process could be replaced by any standard RC4 implementation.

Using WITH ENCRYPTION is a gentleman’s agreement that you won’t look at the underlying code.  In practice, it’s trivial to get around, and Paul shows exactly why.

Changing Computed Columns

Steve Jones shows a how to modify a computed column:

I was working with a computed column the other day, and realized I had the wrong definition. In this case, I was performing some large calculation, and the result was larger than an int. However the first part of the formula was an int, which resulted in an implicit conversion to an int.

I needed to change the formula, and then realized that plenty of people might not work with computed columns much, and not realize how you alter a computed column.

You don’t.

In fact, you need to drop the column and add it back. In my case, this was what I did.

Fortunately, this tends to be a pretty quick operation, especially if the computed column is non-persisted.

“Let” Expressions In M

Chris Webb explains “let” expressions  in M:

In the M language a let expression consists of two sections. After the let comes a list of variables, each of which has a name and an expression associated with it. In the previous example there are three variables: step1, step2 and step3. Variables can refer to other variables; here, step3 refers to both step1 and step2. Variables can be used to store values of any type: numbers, text, dates, or even more complex types like records, lists or tables; here, all three variables return numbers. The Query Editor is usually clever enough to display these variables as steps in your query and so displays then in the Applied Steps pane on the right-hand side of the screen

It’s a look at one of the fundamentals of an interesting language.

Thread-Local Storage

Ewald Cress digs into fundamentals:

As a teaser for where this is heading, I’ll reframe the problem as classic SQL Server examples. Firstly, when a latch wait occurs somewhere in the bowels of a LatchBase subclass instance, how does that latch method know to track the wait against an instance of a Worker, or make it known to the world that it is holding up that Worker? And secondly, at a much higher abstraction level, when a task executes a user query and needs to access a table, how does the access methods code know what security principal to do security checks against? We are taking the first steps towards answering these questions here.

I enjoy Ewald’s explanations because when I’m done, I really feel like I have a clue of what’s going on.  It all fades away as soon as I look away from the screen, but that’s on me, not him.

History Of Apache Storm

Kevin Feasel

2016-05-20

Hadoop

Taylor Goetz gives a history of Storm up to release 1.0:

Storm was originally created by Nathan Marz while he was at Backtype (later acquired by Twitter) working on analytics products based on historical and real-time analysis of the Twitter firehose. Nathan envisioned Storm as a replacement for the real-time component that was based on a cumbersome and brittle system of distributed queues and workers. Storm introduced the concept of the “stream” as a distributed abstraction for data in motion, as well as a fault tolerance and reliability model that was difficult, if not impossible, to achieve with a traditional queues and workers architecture.

Nathan open sourced Storm to GitHub on September 19th, 2011 during his talk at Strange Loop, and it quickly became the most watched JVM project on GitHub. Production deployments soon followed, and the Storm development community rapidly expanded.

Storm is an exciting technology in that it’s a key driver in making Hadoop more than just a batch processing framework.

Machine Learning Skepticism

Julia Evans gives reasons to tamp down expectations with machine learning:

When explaining what machine learning is, I’m giving the example of predicting the country someone lives in from their first name. So John might be American and Johannes might be German.

In this case, it’s really easy to imagine what data you might want to do a good job at this — just get the first names and current countries of every person in the world! Then count up which countries Julias live in (Canada? The US? Germany?), pick the most likely one, and you’re done!

This is a super simple modelling process, but I think it’s a good illustration — if you don’t include any data from China when training your computer to recognize names, it’s not going to get any Chinese names right!

Machine learning projects are like any other development projects, with more complex algorithms.  There’s no magic and there’s a lot of perspiration (hopefully figuratively rather than literally) involved in getting a program which behaves correctly.

Template Replacement

Andy Mallon shows SSMS template replacements:

In the above example, there’s not much value-add by using the template replacement. It’s probably easier to just use @variables and highlight-replace.

The template replacement really shines when you have examples where you’d otherwise need to use dynamic SQL. If you have object names or database names that need replacement, this is a great answer. If you work in a multi-tenant hosting environment, and a client name is part of the DB name, this can make your life a lot easier.

Templates work great with auto-replace (a feature several third-party toolkits include).  My favorite auto-replace that I’ve created is “die” which asks for an schema and procedure name and generates the DROP PROCEDURE script.  Naturally, I also have diet (table), diev (view), and dief (function).

BACPACs In Azure

Mike Fal uses Powershell to import and export Azure SQL Database data:

What makes this black voodoo magic work? Is this some proprietary technique Microsoft has snuck in on us? Surprisingly, this is a bit of technology that have existed for sometime now as part of SQL Server Data Tools called BACPACs. A BACPAC is essentially a logical backup of a database, storing the schema and data as SQL statements.

This differs from a typical SQL Server backup, which stores your database pages directly in a binary format. Because of this, native backups are smaller and can be made/restored faster. However, they are more rigid, as you can only restore a native backup in specific scenarios. A logical backup, since it is a series of SQL statements, can be more flexible.

Mike’s going to follow up with a way to take advantage of this to migrate normal SQL Server databases, so that should be interesting as well.

Installing SQL Server R Services Packages

Kevin Feasel

2016-05-20

R

Julie Koesmarno shows how to install an R package on a SQL Server 2016 instance which has SQL Server R Services installed:

When you start playing with R in SQL Server, sooner or later you would need to install some packages, for example ggplot2. You may run into a problem that sounds like this “Error in library(“ggplot2”) : there is no package called ‘ggplot2’“.

The following script is used in the iris_demo.sql (SQLServer2016CTP3Samples\Advanced Analytics\iris_demo.sql), and would cause a missing library error if you don’t have the packages installed on SQL Server R Services yet.

Julie shows two methods, one a Good Idea and the other a Bad(?) Idea.

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