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SQL: MAX Function

Learn how to use the SQL MAX function with syntax and examples.

Description

The SQL MAX function is used to return the maximum value of an expression in a SELECT statement.

Syntax

The syntax for the SQL MAX function is:

SELECT MAX(expression)
FROM tables
WHERE conditions;

Parameters or Arguments

expression can be a numeric field or formula.

Example - With Single expression

The simplest way to use the SQL MAX function would be to return a single field that calculates the MAX value.

For example, you might wish to know the maximum salary of all employees.

SELECT MAX(salary) AS "Highest salary"
FROM employees;

In this SQL MAX function example, we've aliased the MAX(salary) field as "Highest salary". As a result, "Highest salary" will display as the field name when the result set is returned.

Example - Using SQL GROUP BY Clause

In some cases, you will be required to use the SQL GROUP BY clause with the SQL MAX function.

For example, you could also use the SQL MAX function to return the name of each department and the maximum salary in the department.

SELECT department, MAX(salary) AS "Highest salary"
FROM employees
GROUP BY department;

Because you have listed one column in your SQL SELECT statement that is not encapsulated in the MAX function, you must use the SQL GROUP BY clause. The department field must, therefore, be listed in the GROUP BY section.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: I'm trying to pull some info out of a table. To simplify, let's say the table (report_history) has 4 columns: user_name, report_job_id, report_name, and report_run_date.

Each time a report is run in Oracle, a record is written to this table noting the above info. What I am trying to do is pull from this table when the last time each distinct report was run and who ran it last.

My initial query:

SELECT report_name, MAX(report_run_date)
FROM report_history
GROUP BY report_name

runs fine. However, it does not provide the name of the user who ran the report.

Adding user_name to both the select list and to the group by clause returns multiple lines for each report; the results show the last time each person ran each report in question. (i.e. User1 ran Report 1 on 01-JUL-03, User2 ran Report1 on 01-AUG-03). I don't want that....I just want to know who ran a particular report the last time it was run.

Any suggestions?

Answer: This is where things get a bit complicated. The SQL SELECT statement below will return the results that you want:

SELECT rh.user_name, rh.report_name, rh.report_run_date
FROM report_history rh,
  (SELECT MAX(report_run_date) AS maxdate, report_name
   FROM report_history
   GROUP BY report_name) maxresults
WHERE rh.report_name = maxresults.report_name
AND rh.report_run_date= maxresults.maxdate;

Let's take a few moments to explain what we've done.

First, we've aliased the first instance of the report_history table as rh.

Second, we've included two components in our FROM clause. The first is the table called report_history (aliased as rh). The second is a select statement:

(SELECT MAX(report_run_date) AS maxdate, report_name
 FROM report_history
 GROUP BY report_name) maxresults

We've aliased the max(report_run_date) as maxdate and we've aliased the entire result set as maxresults.

Now, that we've created this select statement within our FROM clause, Oracle will let us join these results against our original report_history table. So we've joined the report_name and report_run_date fields between the tables called rh and maxresults. This allows us to retrieve the report_name, max(report_run_date) as well as the user_name.


Question: I need help with a SQL query. I have a table in Oracle called orders which has the following fields: order_no, customer, and amount.

I need a query that will return the customer who has ordered the highest total amount.

Answer: The following SQL should return the customer with the highest total amount in the orders table.

SELECT query1.*
FROM (SELECT customer, SUM(orders.amount) AS total_amt
      FROM orders
      GROUP BY orders.customer) query1,

     (SELECT MAX(query2.total_amt) AS highest_amt
      FROM (SELECT customer, SUM(orders.amount) AS total_amt
            FROM orders
            GROUP BY orders.customer) query2) query3
WHERE query1.total_amt = query3.highest_amt;

This SQL SELECT statement will summarize the total orders for each customer and then return the customer with the highest total orders. This syntax is optimized for Oracle and may not work for other database technologies.


Question: I'm trying to retrieve some info from an Oracle database. I've got a table named Scoring with two fields - Name and Score. What I want to get is the highest score from the table and the name of the player.

Answer: The following SQL SELECT statement should work:

SELECT Name, Score
FROM Scoring
WHERE Score = (SELECT MAX(Score) FROM Scoring);

Question: I need help in a SQL query. I have a table in Oracle called cust_order which has the following fields: OrderNo, Customer_id, Order_Date, and Amount.

I would like to find the customer_id, who has Highest order count.

I tried with following query.

SELECT MAX(COUNT(*))
FROM CUST_ORDER
GROUP BY CUSTOMER_ID;

This gives me the max Count, But, I can't get the CUSTOMER_ID. Can you help me please?

Answer: The following SQL SELECT statement should return the customer with the highest order count in the cust_order table.

SELECT query1.*
FROM (SELECT Customer_id, Count(*) AS order_count
      FROM cust_order
      GROUP BY cust_order.Customer_id) query1,
      
     (SELECT max(query2.order_count) AS highest_count
      FROM (SELECT Customer_id, Count(*) AS order_count
            FROM cust_order
            GROUP BY cust_order.Customer_id) query2) query3
WHERE query1.order_count = query3.highest_count;

This SQL SELECT statement will summarize the total orders for each customer and then return the customer with the highest order count. This syntax is optimized for Oracle and may not work for other database technologies.


Question: I'm trying to get the employee with the maximum salary from department 30, but I need to display the employee's full information. I've tried the following query, but it returns the result from both department 30 and 80:

SELECT *
FROM employees
WHERE salary = (SELECT MAX(salary)
                FROM employees
                WHERE department_id=30);

Answer: The SQL SELECT statement that you have written will first determine the maximum salary for department 30, but then you select all employees that have this salary. In your case, you must have 2 employees (one in department 30 and another in department 80) that have this same salary. You need to make sure that you are refining your query results to only return employees from department 30.

Try using this SQL SELECT statement:

SELECT *
FROM employees
WHERE department_id=30
AND salary = (SELECT MAX(salary)
              FROM employees
              WHERE department_id=30);

This will return the employee information for only the employee in department 30 that has the highest salary.