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PostgreSQL – LAG Function

  • Last Updated : 08 Feb, 2021

In PostgreSQL, the LAG() function is used to access a row that comes exactly before the current row at a specific physical offset. The LAG() comes in handy while comparing the values of the current row with the previous row.

The following shows the syntax of LAG() function:

Syntax:
LAG(expression [, offset [, default_value]]) 
OVER (
    [PARTITION BY partition_expression, ... ]
    ORDER BY sort_expression [ASC | DESC], ...
)

Let’s analyze the above syntax:

  • The expression is used to set a comparision basis for the comparision of current and exactly previous rows at a specified offset. It can any among the following, be a column, an expression, or a subquery.
  • The offset is a positive integer that is used to set in the query the number of rows that that come before the current row. The offset can be an expression, a subquery, or a column. If it is not specified, it defaults to 1.
  • The LAG() function will return the default_value when the offset goes beyond the scope of the partition.
  • The LAG() function is applied on the partitions created by the PARTITION BY clause.If partation is not specified, the function treats the whole result set as a single partition.
  • The ORDER BY clause sets the order of the rows in each partition to which the LAG() function is applied.

Example 1:

Let’s set up a new table for the demonstration named sales:



CREATE TABLE sales(
    year SMALLINT CHECK(year > 0),
    group_id INT NOT NULL,
    amount DECIMAL(10, 2) NOT NULL,
    PRIMARY KEY(year, group_id)
);

Add some data to it:

INSERT INTO 
    sales(year, group_id, amount) 
VALUES
    (2018, 1, 1474),
    (2018, 2, 1787),
    (2018, 3, 1760),
    (2019, 1, 1915),
    (2019, 2, 1911),
    (2019, 3, 1118),
    (2020, 1, 1646),
    (2020, 2, 1975),
    (2020, 3, 1516);

Here the LAG() function to return the sales amount of the current year and the previous year:

WITH cte AS (
    SELECT 
        year, 
        SUM(amount) amount
    FROM sales
    GROUP BY year
) 
SELECT
    year, 
    amount,
    LAG(amount, 1) OVER (
        ORDER BY year
    ) last_year_sales
FROM
    cte;

Output:

Example 2:

This example uses the LAG() function to compare the sales of the current year with the sales of the previous year of each product group:

SELECT
    year, 
    amount,
    group_id,
    LAG(amount, 1) OVER (
        PARTITION BY group_id
        ORDER BY year
    ) last_year_sales
FROM
    sales;

Output:

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