Correlated or Derived JOIN in SQL Server

You must be wondering what is this correlated join in SQL Server? Let me clarify it’s not a type of join like INNER or OUTER, it is a kind of usage or play around with joins. Some call it derived join too. Anyway it really does not matter what it is called. The concept is important to understand here. Different types of JOINs in SQL Server

Couple of months ago, I was interviewing a guy. My first question was, find the top 3 business by Amount from Business table, he was kind of happy because he thought it’s a very silly and common question. I saw that happiness and tweaked the question a little bit, I asked him to get me the same out put but by doing a LEFT JOIN with Employee then INNER JOIN between Employee and Location tables.

Let’s do the practical. We have 3 tables, named Employee, Location and Business. In Business table, we have the business data. Let’s find the top 3 businesses by Amount made so far by our employees using the joins mentioned above.


BusinessID BusinessName EmpID Amount
1 92 Per-cents %% team 7 4750
2 K-Land fund trust 2 16750
3 7 18100
5 BIG 6’s Foundation% 4 22090
6 TALTA_Kishan International 3 18100
7 10 41000
8 7 25000
9 Thank you 11 21500
10 Just Mom 5 9900
11 Big Giver Tom 7 19000
12 Mega Mercy 9 55000
13 Hope Reaches 7 29000
14 Everyone Wins 4 12500


EmpID LastName FirstName LocationID ManagerID
2 Brown Barry 1 11
3 Osako Lee 2 11
4 Kinnison Dave 1 11
5 Bender Eric 1 11
7 Lonning David NULL 11
9 Newton James 2 3
10 O’Haire Terry 2 3
11 Smith Sally 1 NULL


LocationID street city state
1 545 Pike Seattle WA
2 222 Second AVE Boston MA
4 444 Ruby ST Spokane WA
5 1595 Main Philadelphia PA
6 915 Wallaby Drive Sydney NULL

TOP 3 Business by Amount, our desired output:

BusinessName Amount EmpID
Mega Mercy 55000 9 41000 10
Hope Reaches 29000 7

To get the above result, we can simply write a SELECT TOP(3) statement on Business table and then ORDER BY Amount DESC like shown below.

Remember, I had tweaked the question and asked him to write the query by doing LEFT JOIN between Business and Employee tables then INNER JOIN between Employee and Location tables. Usually someone will write a query like below.

Output: (Wrong)

BusinessName Amount EmpID
Mega Mercy 55000 9 41000 10
BIG 6’s Foundation% 22090 4

We know BIG 6’s Foundation% (22090) is not our 3rd highest business. The reason Hope Reaches(29000) did not come in the result set because EmpID 7  owns that business and EmpID 7 has no relative data in the location table,  LocationID is NULL for EmpID 7 in the Employee table.

Note: In the above query we are fine up to LEFT JOIN between Business and Employee tables but the INNER JOIN with Location phrased out the whole result set at the end with only matching records between Employee and Location tables. Our EmpID 7 is the owner of the 3rd highest business unfortunately he works from home so his business is filtered out and the next highest business is displayed.

Now answering the question.. There are number of ways to get the desired result set but probably the most natural is to use an interesting capability of joins.

Output: (Right)

BusinessName Amount EmpID
Mega Mercy 55000 9 41000 10
Hope Reaches 29000 7

In the above query, we isolated the EMPLOYEE and LOCATION join within parenthesis to their own pendent logical phase. Which is why the LEFT JOIN is not filtered out by the location anymore.

Prasad Sahoo

Prasad Sahoo, is an enthusiast of Microsoft technologies in general and a passionate database professional, mainly focusing on SQL Server performance tuning and business intelligence. He has contributed a long time of his career working on SQL Server and other RDBMS. If he is not busy with SQL stuff then he must be watching some Hollywood movies.

2 thoughts on “Correlated or Derived JOIN in SQL Server

  • March 7, 2016 at 10:04 am

    The other workaround to the solution is using derived table.

    SELECT TOP (3) b.BusinessName, b.Amount, b.EmpID FROM Business b
    SELECT e.EmpID FROM Employee e
    INNER JOIN Location l
    ON l.LocationID = e.LocationID
    ON e.EmpID = b.EmpID
    ORDER BY b.Amount DESC

  • June 8, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    Great Article. Keep posting these insightful articles


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