Removing duplicates in Vertica data sets

Many a time due to bug or otherwise duplicate rows gets introduced into tables and it is not hard to perform dedupe and let the ETL/ELT process continue without interruption.  In environment where rows can be identified by row_ids (Oracle) or table is not large (say, less than 100 million rows) simple techniques like copying the whole table to temporary table and then removing the dups are suffice to handle the situation. Thus, data users (Scientists, Analysis or Execs) are not negatively affected either due to data issue or downtime.

But some cases can be interesting, say, where table is large or very large, from few hundred millions of rows to few billions of rows and tables are wide with tens to hundreds of columns.  One technique that I use in Vertica environment is copying the duplicates to temp table and generating a pseudo row_id and then deleting the duplicates.  Recently a table with with more than 150 million rows and 60 columns had just 2 duplicates and needed dedupe without any downtime.  The steps I used were:

Step 1:  Check for dups
select count(1) from large-table-1;    — Just some sanity check before beginning the dedupe

— Find the duplicates
select keys, count(1) from large-table-1
where where-conditions
group by 1
having count(1) > 1
order by count(1) desc  ;

Step 2:  Dump the duplicates into temp table
create table test.large-table-1-dups
like large-table-1;

alter table test.large-table-1-dups     — add row_num column (pseudo row_id)
add column row_num int;

insert into test.large-table-1-dups
from large-table-1
where key in (‘k1’, ‘k2’);                    — where, say, k1 has n and k2 has m exact duplicates

Step 3: Remove duplicates from the temp table
delete from test.large-table-1-dups
where row_num > 1;

select * from test.dim_line_items_dups;    —  Sanity test.  Should have 1 row each of k1 & k2 rows

Step 4: Delete all duplicates from main table…
delete from large-table-1
— select * from large-table-1
where key in (‘k1’, ‘k2’);                      — key is like line_item_nk, etc.

Step 5: Insert data back into main table from temp dedupe data
alter table test.large-table-1-dups
drop column row_num;

insert into large-table-1
select * from test.large-table-1-dups;

11 thoughts on “Removing duplicates in Vertica data sets

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