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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • A wise man said any SQL query without an ORDER BY clause is a stealth bug waiting to emerge when the implicit order dependency explodes into view.

    In the customer-visit itinerary, ORDER BY may actually be a better solution than DISTINCT -- the repetition value in the BAG will be needed to help plan how long to lay over in each city, as it measures how many visits are required there. GROUP BY (City) COUNT(Customer) might be better, and would get you the equivalent of DISTINCT.

    --
    Bill
    # I had a sig when sigs were cool
    use Sig;
    • You've come up with a rather artificial reason why one might, in this case, want a bag instead of a set, but your example is arbitrary. Who knows why Alice is in a particular city? Maybe she has some weird contractual agreement that she needs to at least be in those cities once a year? The point is the same: if I ask for information, why should I want my query, by default, to repeat itself rather than just give me the information I ask for?

      Don't focus on the specifics of this particular problem because it's artificial. However, if you can prove that the specifics of this problem (Alice needs to know how long she should stay) generalize to the majority of queries, than I'll stand corrected. This could be some weird parallel to the Einstein/Bohr debates (on a far lower intellectual level) where Einstein thought Bohr was merely guilty of picking apart the particular examples he used but in the end, Bohr turned out to be right. Still, there would have to be some generalizable preference for repetition for this to work.

      • I think we're in violent agreement that naive SQL is bad, and we're just arguing over which form of naivety is worst!

        This is not just a artificial quibble on the artificial example. I gave a different, more general rule that explains why the artificial example is wrong at an even deeper level. I claim that in general both general rules need to be addressed together.

        I agree that SQL having been designed abstractly by mathematicians (with whom I happily self-identify) so that it encourages thinking SETs y

        --
        Bill
        # I had a sig when sigs were cool
        use Sig;