query operations

FC-12 - Structured Query Language (SQL) and attribute queries

The structured query language (SQL) for database interrogation is presented and illustrated with a few examples using attribute tables one might find in a common GIS database.  A short background is presented on the history and goals that the creators of the SQL language hoped to achieve, followed by a review of SQL utility for data query, editing, and definition.  While the SQL language is rich in content and breadth, this article attempts to build on a simple SQL and then iteratively add additional complexity to highlight the power that SQL affords to the GIS professional who has limited programming capabilities.  The reader is asked to consider how minor modifications to SQL syntax can add complexity and even create more dynamic mathematical models with simple English-like command statements.  Finally, the reader is challenged to consider how terse SQL statements may be used to replace relatively long and laborious command sequences required by a GIS GUI approach.