Finding Peak Values: Row Selection by Maximum Column Value in MySQL

  1. Using a Subquery:

This method involves using a subquery to find the maximum value in the column and then filtering the original table to only include rows where the value in the column matches the maximum value. Here's an example:

FROM your_table t1
WHERE t1.my_column = (
  SELECT MAX(my_column)
  FROM your_table t2

In this example, the subquery SELECT MAX(my_column) FROM your_table t2 finds the maximum value in the my_column column. The outer query then selects all columns (*) from the your_table table (aliased as t1) where the value in t1.my_column is equal to the maximum value returned by the subquery.

  1. Using a JOIN:

This method involves joining the table to itself on the condition that the two rows have the same value in the column you want to find the maximum for, and then selecting the maximum value based on another column. Here's an example:

FROM your_table t1
JOIN (SELECT id, MAX(my_column) AS max_value FROM your_table GROUP BY id) t2
ON = AND t1.my_column = t2.max_value;

In this example, we first perform a subquery that groups the table by the id column and calculates the maximum value of my_column for each group. This result is then aliased as t2. The main query then joins the original table (t1) with t2 on two conditions:

  • = This ensures we only join rows that have the same ID.
  • t1.my_column = t2.max_value: This ensures we only keep rows from t1 where the value in my_column matches the maximum value for that ID group.

Choosing the Right Method:

  • The subquery method is simpler to write but can be less performant for large tables.
  • The join method can be more performant for large tables, especially if you have an index on the columns used in the join condition.

Additional Considerations:

  • You can modify these queries to select specific columns instead of all columns (*).
  • If there can be multiple rows with the maximum value, both methods will return all those rows.

Subquery Method:

-- Example table (assuming a table named 'products' with columns 'id', 'name', 'price')
  name VARCHAR(255),
  price DECIMAL(10,2)

-- Insert some sample data
INSERT INTO products (id, name, price) VALUES
  (1, 'Shirt', 19.99),
  (2, 'Pants', 34.50),
  (3, 'Shirt', 22.99),
  (4, 'Hat', 15.00);

-- Select products with the maximum price
FROM products p1
WHERE p1.price = (
  SELECT MAX(price)
  FROM products p2

This example finds and selects all products with the highest price from the products table.

JOIN Method:

-- Using the same 'products' table from the previous example

-- Select products with the maximum price (using JOIN)
FROM products p1
  SELECT id, MAX(price) AS max_price
  FROM products
) p2 ON = AND p1.price = p2.max_price;

This example achieves the same result as the subquery method using a join. It finds the maximum price for each product ID and then joins the table with itself to select only the rows with the matching maximum price.

Using ALL with Aggregation:

This method uses the ALL keyword with the aggregate function (MAX) to filter for rows where the value in the column being queried (my_column) is equal to all the maximum values.

FROM your_table
WHERE my_column >= ALL (SELECT MAX(my_column) FROM your_table);


  • Simpler syntax compared to subqueries.


  • Less performant than most other methods, especially for large datasets.
  • Might return unexpected results if there are multiple distinct maximum values. (Not recommended for most cases)

Using NOT EXISTS with Subquery:

This method involves using the NOT EXISTS operator to check if there are any rows with a higher value in the column compared to the current row.

FROM your_table t1
  FROM your_table t2
  WHERE t2.my_column > t1.my_column
  • More performant than the ALL method, especially for large datasets.
  • Can be less readable compared to other methods.
  • Might be slightly less performant than the subquery or join methods depending on the database engine.

Similar to NOT EXISTS, this method uses NOT IN to check if the current row's value is not present in a subquery that retrieves all values greater than the current value.

FROM your_table t1
WHERE t1.my_column NOT IN (
  SELECT my_column
  FROM your_table t2
  WHERE t2.my_column > t1.my_column
  • Similar performance to NOT EXISTS.
  • Might be slightly more readable for some users.
  • Subquery overhead can impact performance for very large datasets.

Using Set Operator MINUS:

This method utilizes the set operator MINUS to exclude rows from the original table that have a higher value in the target column.

FROM your_table
FROM your_table t2
WHERE t2.my_column > (SELECT MAX(my_column) FROM your_table);
  • Can be efficient for some database engines that optimize set operations.
  • Less commonly used and might be less familiar to some users.
  • Not all database engines support set operations efficiently.

Choosing the Right Alternate Method:

  • For most cases, the subquery or join methods are preferred due to their readability and performance.
  • If performance is a critical concern for very large datasets, consider NOT EXISTS or NOT IN with proper indexing on the column.
  • Use ALL with caution due to potential performance issues and unexpected results.
  • Set operation methods are database specific and might not always be the best choice.

mysql sql aggregate-functions

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