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NULLIF (Transact-SQL)

Updated: 12 December 2006

Returns a null value if the two specified expressions are equal.

Topic link icon Transact-SQL Syntax Conventions


NULLIF ( expression , expression )

expression

Is any valid scalar expression.

For more information, see Expressions (Transact-SQL)

Returns the same type as the first expression.

NULLIF returns the first expression if the two expressions are not equal. If the expressions are equal, NULLIF returns a null value of the type of the first expression.

NULLIF is equivalent to a searched CASE function in which the two expressions are equal and the resulting expression is NULL.

We recommend that you not use time-dependent functions, such as RAND(), within a NULLIF function. This could cause the function to be evaluted twice and to return different results from the two invocations.

A. Returning budget amounts that have not changed

The following example creates a budgets table to show a department (dept) its current budget (current_year) and its previous budget (previous_year). For the current year, NULL is used for departments with budgets that have not changed from the previous year, and 0 is used for budgets that have not yet been determined. To find out the average of only those departments that receive a budget and to include the budget value from the previous year (use the previous_year value, where the current_year is NULL), combine the NULLIF and COALESCE functions.

USE AdventureWorks;
GO
IF EXISTS (SELECT TABLE_NAME FROM INFORMATION_SCHEMA.TABLES
      WHERE TABLE_NAME = 'budgets')
   DROP TABLE budgets;
GO
SET NOCOUNT ON;
CREATE TABLE budgets
(
   dept            tinyint   IDENTITY,
   current_year      decimal   NULL,
   previous_year   decimal   NULL
);
INSERT budgets VALUES(100000, 150000);
INSERT budgets VALUES(NULL, 300000);
INSERT budgets VALUES(0, 100000);
INSERT budgets VALUES(NULL, 150000);
INSERT budgets VALUES(300000, 250000);
GO  
SET NOCOUNT OFF;
SELECT AVG(NULLIF(COALESCE(current_year,
   previous_year), 0.00)) AS 'Average Budget'
FROM budgets;
GO

Here is the result set.

Average Budget                           
---------------------------------------- 
212500.000000

(1 row(s) affected)

B. Comparing NULLIF and CASE

To show the similarity between NULLIF and CASE, the following queries evaluate whether the values in the MakeFlag and FinishedGoodsFlag columns are the same. The first query uses NULLIF. The second query uses the CASE statement.

USE AdventureWorks;
GO

SELECT ProductID, MakeFlag, FinishedGoodsFlag, 
   NULLIF(MakeFlag,FinishedGoodsFlag)AS 'Null if Equal'
FROM Production.Product
WHERE ProductID < 10;
GO

SELECT ProductID, MakeFlag, FinishedGoodsFlag,'Null if Equal' =
   CASE
       WHEN MakeFlag = FinishedGoodsFlag THEN NULL
       ELSE MakeFlag
   END
FROM Production.Product
WHERE ProductID < 10;
GO

Release History

12 December 2006

New content:
  • Added information about using time-sensitive functions inside NULLIF.

14 April 2006

New content:
  • Added an example that shows the similarity between NULLIF and CASE.
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