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MySQL 5.5 Reference Manual  /  ...  /  The Rows Holding the Group-wise Maximum of a Certain Column

3.6.4 The Rows Holding the Group-wise Maximum of a Certain Column

Task: For each article, find the dealer or dealers with the most expensive price.

This problem can be solved with a subquery like this one:

SELECT article, dealer, price
FROM   shop s1
WHERE  price=(SELECT MAX(s2.price)
              FROM shop s2
              WHERE s1.article = s2.article)
ORDER BY article;

+---------+--------+-------+
| article | dealer | price |
+---------+--------+-------+
|    0001 | B      |  3.99 |
|    0002 | A      | 10.99 |
|    0003 | C      |  1.69 |
|    0004 | D      | 19.95 |
+---------+--------+-------+

The preceding example uses a correlated subquery, which can be inefficient (see Section 13.2.10.7, “Correlated Subqueries”). Other possibilities for solving the problem are to use an uncorrelated subquery in the FROM clause or a LEFT JOIN.

Uncorrelated subquery:

SELECT s1.article, dealer, s1.price
FROM shop s1
JOIN (
  SELECT article, MAX(price) AS price
  FROM shop
  GROUP BY article) AS s2
  ON s1.article = s2.article AND s1.price = s2.price
ORDER BY article;

LEFT JOIN:

SELECT s1.article, s1.dealer, s1.price
FROM shop s1
LEFT JOIN shop s2 ON s1.article = s2.article AND s1.price < s2.price
WHERE s2.article IS NULL
ORDER BY s1.article;

The LEFT JOIN works on the basis that when s1.price is at its maximum value, there is no s2.price with a greater value and thus the corresponding s2.article value is NULL. See Section 13.2.9.2, “JOIN Syntax”.