Q
Problem solve Get help with specific problems with your technologies, process and projects.

# TOP n WITH TIES in MySQL

I have this query:

select state, count(*) as customers
from customer group by state
order by customers desc limit 2

This works fine, but what if the query returns two values, meaning two records have the same number in the database?

Assuming from the LIMIT clause that this is MySQL, your query will return the "top two" rows (top two states by number of customers), and you seem to be concerned about ties. Rightly so. In your specific example, LIMIT 2 returns the top two rows, so if there's a two-way tie for top, you're okay. But if there's a two-way tie for second place, you're not.

Consider a quiz which has thirteen questions. Joe gets all thirteen questions right, Mary gets only five questions right, and everybody else gets twelve right. Who are the top two finishers in this quiz?

 Joe 13 Tom 12 Dick 12 Harry 12 Curly 12 Larry 12 Moe 12 ... 12

Notice that everybody is on the list except Mary. (The list is actually a lot longer, but showing all of it would be silly, wouldn't it.)

If we announce the results as "Joe won first prize with a perfect 13 and Tom won second prize with a 12," we will surely hear from some other angry contestants. Rightly so. Perhaps the number of customers by state is not likely to yield as many ties, but we should still address the problem.

So what to do? We can arbitrarily limit the results to two, which is certainly safe if we were showing, say, population by state, where the likelihood of a tie is vanishingly small. My preference is to show the top two results, no matter how many rows have them. In other words, to include ties.

In SQL Server it is possible to say TOP n WITH TIES. End of problem.

In MySQL, at least in versions prior to 4.1 which introduced support for subqueries, you'll have to use LIMIT. Set it high enough so that you feel confident you will return more than the necessary number of rows, or leave LIMIT off altogether and return all 50 states. Then loop over the resulting rows with a scripting language and programmatically detect ties with current/previous logic.

This was last published in June 2004

## Content

Find more PRO+ content and other member only offers, here.

#### Have a question for an expert?

Get answers from a TechTarget expert on whatever's puzzling you.

You will be able to add details on the next page.

#### Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

## SearchDataManagement

• ### Hyperledger Fabric offers path to enterprise blockchain future

Blockchain arose from bitcoin, but it's looking to find a place in the enterprise. Frameworks like Hyperledger Fabric could ...

• ### MongoDB 4.0 takes ACID transactions to multi-document level

MongoDB is taking a deeper step into SQL-style processing waters with a 4.0 update that brings increased support for ...

• ### Data lake concept needs firm hand to pay big data dividends

Data lakes pose technology deployment and data management challenges that can leave analytics users high and dry if the ...

• ### AI functionality limited today but could be a game-changer

Limited AI capabilities could soon give way to technology that is truly transformative for enterprises, surpassing the overhyped ...

## SearchSAP

• ### ControlPanelGRC app eases Steelcase's compliance pain

When Steelcase's SAP environment grew in size and complexity, it turned to Symmetry ControlPanelGRC to save time, have more ...

• ### Translytical data platforms emerge with SAP HANA as a leader

SAP HANA is a leading translytical platform, according to Forrester, and consulting firm Convergent IS says the combination of ...

• ### SAP HANA and Esri combine for geospatial database platform

SAP and Esri are combining SAP HANA's in-memory database capabilities with Esri geospatial applications, and utilities are taking...

## SearchSQLServer

SQL Operations Studio simplifies routine administration of SQL Server and Azure SQL databases, making database development and ...

• ### Meltdown and Spectre fixes eyed for SQL Server performance issues

Microsoft has responded to the Spectre and Meltdown chip vulnerabilities with patches and other fixes. But IT teams need to sort ...

• ### Five SQL Server maintenance steps you should take -- ASAP

Putting off SQL Server administration tasks can lead to database problems. Enact these often-neglected maintenance items to help ...

## TheServerSide.com

• ### Pluralsight IQ, Stack Overflow boost developer street cred

Tying the Pluralsight IQ skills test to the Stack Overflow Developer Story helps developers measure their technical skills and ...

• ### Why this quantum computing breakthrough is a security risk

Quantum computing will void pretty much all security encryption techniques and open the door to hackers. Here's how to protect ...

• ### Database automation drives DevOps into the persistence layer

A new breed of software tools is driving DevOps processes deep into the persistence layer, as database automation and continuous ...

## SearchDataCenter

• ### Evaluate read-intensive and write-intensive SSD use cases

Consider write wear, performance and other factors when choosing between read-intensive, write-intensive and mixed-use ...

• ### Some hyper-converged infrastructure use cases pose pitfalls

Hyper-converged infrastructure adoption is skyrocketing, but that doesn't mean that the technology is the best choice for every ...

• ### Dell hyper-converged reorg streamlines products, ups CI odds

Market pressures and manufacturing synergies drove Dell to integrate its HCI and CI products with its core business units, but ...

## SearchContentManagement

• ### Content management in the cloud a main theme in 2018

The future of content management resides in the cloud and with AI, as several 2018 conferences will assure you.

• ### Six things to know about today's SharePoint implementations

As companies migrate their on-premises Microsoft SharePoint sites to the cloud, here are some things they should know about the ...

• ### Upgrades for the SharePoint Online portal

As more organizations migrate SharePoint sites to the cloud, Microsoft has increased at-a-glance dashboard data and analytics to ...

## SearchHRSoftware

• ### Don't overlook the many benefits of Microsoft Excel for HR

The maligned spreadsheet tool is no substitute for enterprise apps like HRMS and people analytics, but it will do in a pinch and ...

• ### HR is failing to use people analytics tools, new report says

Human resource departments fail to use people analytics tools effectively, a new global study concludes. The findings were called...

• ### Does your company need new human resource management tools?

Finding the best human resource management tools starts with identifying your company's present and future needs, before ...

Close