April 14, 2016 by Kenneth Fisher

I love this somewhat obscure mathematical operator. All it does is return the remainder of a division statement but even though it’s pretty basic most people I talk to have never heard of it. The format is

dividend % divisor = remainder

DECLARE @remainder INT
DECLARE @dividend INT = 10
DECLARE @divisor INT = 6

SET @remainder = @dividend % @divisor

-- @remainder = 4

Now aside from the odd occasion when you actually need it for it’s simple purpose it’s a rather interesting way to get a rolling count. Basically you can use it to get a list back of 1,2,3,…n-1,0 where n is your divisor.

DECLARE @divisor INT = 4;
	-- Row Number 
	ROW_NUMBER() OVER (ORDER BY object_id), 
	-- Default 1,2,...n-1,0
	ROW_NUMBER() OVER (ORDER BY object_id) % @divisor,
	-- More useful 1,2,...n
	((ROW_NUMBER() OVER (ORDER BY object_id)-1) % @divisor)+1
FROM sys.objects
-- Skip to the 3rd "page" to make this more obvious
ORDER BY object_id
OFFSET @divisor * 2 ROWS;


Now this can have all kinds of interesting uses. Particularly when you use the slightly modified third column to get a list that’s 1,2,…n.

Another common use for modulo (I’m not going to make any assumptions about it’s efficiency) is to get every xth row of a result set.

	SELECT ROW_NUMBER() OVER (ORDER BY object_id) AS Row_Number, *
	FROM sys.objects)
WHERE Row_Number % @x = 0;

7 thoughts on “Modulo!

  1. notarian says:

    Interview Tip: This is how you calculate change from a vending machine or the fewest stamps to put on an envelope!

  2. Gabriel says:

    Modulo is a great way to split a single result set into multiple chunks to speed up bulk loads. We use it in SSIS to take a single data flow and turn it into 2, 4 or even 8 parallel streams; it’s like putting afterburners or nitrous oxide on your package.

  3. dewitte says:

    This is a great post. I’ve used Modulo a lot over my programming lifetime and you are right, it’s often overlooked but a lot better than how I used to do it in BASIC which was something like if int(x/100) = x/100.

  4. […] % (modulo) 1000: This returns the remainder of our random value divided by 1000. Basically this creates a range of values. In this case -1000 to 1000. If you want a range of -5 to 5 then use % 5. Simple enough. […]

  5. […] I needed to determine what should be printed out. Well modulo and a case statement is prefect for that. A simple case statement checking for Id % 3 = 0, Id % 5 = […]

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