Cubing and metrics in SQL, oh my!

Julian Hyde, Senior Staff Engineer | Google

If SQL is the universal language of data, why do we author our most important data applications (metrics, analytics, business intelligence) in languages other than SQL? Multidimensional databases and languages such as MDX, DAX and Tableau LOD solve these problems but introduce others: they require specialized knowledge, complicate the data pipeline and don’t integrate well. Is it possible to define and query business intelligence models in SQL?

Apache Calcite has extended SQL to support metrics (which we call ‘measures’), filter context, and analytic expressions. With these concepts you can define data models (which we call Analytic Views) that contain metrics, use them in queries, and define new metrics in queries.

In this talk by the original developer of Apache Calcite, we describe the SQL syntax extensions for metrics, and how to use them for cross-dimensional calculations such as period-over-period, percent-of-total, non-additive and semi-additive measures. We describe how we got around fundamental limitations in SQL semantics, and approaches for optimizing queries that use metrics.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER

Julian Hyde

Senior Staff Engineer | Google

Julian Hyde is the original developer of Apache Calcite, an open source framework for building data management systems, and Morel, a functional query language. Previously he created Mondrian, an analytics engine, and SQLstream, an engine for continuous queries. He is a staff engineer at Google, where he works on Looker and BigQuery.

Julian Hyde