SQL Scalar functions

SQL User-defined functions (UDFs) are custom functions created by users to perform specific tasks within a database system. One common type of UDF is the Scalar Function, which operates on a single value and returns a single value. Scalar functions are useful for encapsulating logic that can be reused in various queries, promoting code reusability and maintainability.

Here’s an overview of Scalar Functions in SQL:

Creating Scalar Functions

To create a Scalar Function, you use the CREATE FUNCTION statement. Here’s a basic template:

CREATE FUNCTION dbo.MyScalarFunction
    @Parameter1 DATATYPE,
    @Parameter2 DATATYPE
    -- Function logic here

    -- Your computation or operation
    SET @Result = ...

    RETURN @Result;

dbo.MyScalarFunction: Name of the function, including the schema.
@Parameter1, @Parameter2: Input parameters with specified data types.
RETURNS DATATYPE: Data type of the value that the function will return.

Using Scalar Functions

Once you’ve created a Scalar Function, you can use it in SELECT statements, WHERE clauses, and other SQL queries. Here’s an example:

dbo.MyScalarFunction(Column1, Column2) AS Result
FROM MyTable
WHERE Condition = 1;

Advantages of Scalar Functions

Code Reusability: Scalar Functions allow you to encapsulate complex logic into a single function that can be reused across multiple queries.

Abstraction: Functions abstract the underlying logic, making the code more readable and easier to maintain.

Consistency: By centralizing logic in functions, you ensure that calculations or operations are consistent across different parts of your database.


Performance: While Scalar Functions offer advantages in terms of code organization, they might impact performance, especially if used in large datasets. This is because they are executed row by row.

Deterministic vs. Non-deterministic: Scalar Functions can be classified as deterministic (always return the same result for the same input) or non-deterministic (can return different results for the same input). Deterministic functions are often preferred for certain optimizations.

In summary, Scalar Functions in SQL provide a powerful mechanism for encapsulating logic in a reusable manner, enhancing code readability, maintainability, and consistency across database queries. However, careful consideration should be given to their performance implications, and they should be used judiciously based on the specific requirements of your database environment.