Find Maximum Value in each Row – SQL Server

Here’s a simple and efficient way to find the maximum value in each row using SQL Server UNPIVOT

DECLARE @t table (id int PRIMARY KEY, col1 int, col2 int, col3 int)

INSERT INTO @t SELECT 1, 45, 2, 14
INSERT INTO @t SELECT 2, 8, 1, 12
INSERT INTO @t SELECT 3, 21, 20, 8
INSERT INTO @t SELECT 4, 8, 5, 2
INSERT INTO @t SELECT 5, 23, 49, 7
INSERT INTO @t SELECT 6, 19, 7, 5
INSERT INTO @t SELECT 7, 7, 7, 2
INSERT INTO @t SELECT 8, 14, 17, 2

SELECT id, MAX(col) AS maxValue
SELECT id, col FROM @t
(col FOR ListofColumns IN (col1,col2,col3))
AS unpivott) AS p



If you new to UNPIVOT, read Using PIVOT and UNPIVOT

About The Author

Suprotim Agarwal, MCSD, MCAD, MCDBA, MCSE, is the founder of DotNetCurry, DNC Magazine for Developers, SQLServerCurry and DevCurry. He has also authored a couple of books 51 Recipes using jQuery with ASP.NET Controls and a new one recently at The Absolutely Awesome jQuery CookBook.

Suprotim has received the prestigous Microsoft MVP award for nine times in a row now. In a professional capacity, he is the CEO of A2Z Knowledge Visuals Pvt Ltd, a digital group that represents premium web sites and digital publications comprising of Professional web, windows, mobile and cloud developers, technical managers, and architects.

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D. Taylor said...

Simply brilliant. Can i find the highest and lowest value using any other approach than UNPIVOT. If you have the time, I just need this example for my knowledge

Madhivanan said...


Try this method

select id, min(col1) as minValue, max(col1) as maxValue from
select id, col1 from @t
union all
select id, col2 from @t
union all
select id, col3 from @t
) as t
group by id

If you use version 2008, you can use values clause, refer point 3 in this post

Suprotim Agarwal said...

Thanks Madhivanan. I too had written a query yesterday in response to this comment where I used CROSS APPLY. The advantage was using this, the OP can update existing columns if there's a need.

Gopal said...

Excellent, great, useful.. Saved my 5 days effort and frustration..

Awesome thinking, efficient method.

Thanks so so so much :)

SQLGeek said...

My question is to Madhivanan:
First of all thanks for the solution given above.
But adding to the above question if id column is not given, then how will we do it

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

SQLGeek, if you do not have id column, you can use CASE expression

when col1>col2 and col1>col3 then col1
when col2>col3 then col2
else col3
end as maximum_value
from table