Approximate functions: How do they work?

Sometimes, a close approximation is good enough. And sometimes, a close approximation is a lot faster. Microsoft has introduced “Approximate Query Processing” (the APPROX_COUNT_DISTINCT and APPROX_PERCENTILE functions) to give you exactly that benefit when you don't need exact answers.

But do you have a good response when you propose to use this function and your manager asks you to explain how they work first? Or is your only option to claim "black magic by smart Microsoft engineers"?

The algorithms used are not a secret. HyperLogLog and KLL Sketch. And now you most likely know exactly as much as you already knew before. And when you google for those terms ... you end up with a headache.

Time to join me for a session where I explain the black magic in the simplest possible terms, so that you can then explain it to your manager!

Hugo Kornelis

I make SQL Server fast (.com)

Zeewolde, The Netherlands

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