Get a random sample of rows in SQL Server 2000

There are occasions when a random sample of a query's rows are needed. A simple but non-functioning solution is to include the system random number generator function within the query. Unfortunately, a single random number is generated for the query when what is desired is a random number for each row.

Another solution that is only available with SQL Server 2000 is to use a User Defined Function (UDF) to wrap the system random number generator. Since UDFs are invoked on a row-by-row basis, this approach theoretically could work. Unfortunately (again), Microsoft has restricted the usage of nondeterministic system functions that change the global state of the database. This includes the usage of the random number generator.

But there is a workaround for non-deterministic functions, which is to first create a view, then create a UDF that selects from the view and finally, reference the UDF in the query. Here's an example:

use master
create view dbo.RandomNumbers
as select rand( ) as RandomNumber
CREATE FUNCTION dbo.RandomNumberGet ( )
declare @r real
set @r = (select RandomNumber from RandomNumbers)
return @r
use Northwind
select  RandomNumber 
, OrderID
,  CustomerID
,  EmployeeID
FROM  (select  CAST(master.dbo.RandomNumberGet() * 100 as integer)  as RandomNumber
, OrderID
,  CustomerID
,  EmployeeID
from  Orders
) As RandomOrders
Order by RandomNumber

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This was first published in February 2005

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