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# Mysql rand()

Posted on 2012-03-28
Medium Priority
546 Views
Hi Guys,

Quick question, can you randomly distribute strings in a column, i know this can be done with numbers but not sure with words.

example - randomise - "new", "used" between 300 rows

i.e
book_title                       condition
php for dummies                 new
php in practice                     used
amazon for dummies          used
etc.............

0
Question by:MK15

LVL 84

Expert Comment

ID: 37778134
If you have an auto-increment id column, you can use the rand() function against it to select 'random' items.  Two problems with that are that you may get duplicates and you may not show all items because some may never come up.  It will take a little code because rand() returns a floating point value.  There is code here to get an int:

http://dev.mysql.com/doc/refman/5.0/en/mathematical-functions.html#function_rand
0

LVL 24

Accepted Solution

johanntagle earned 2000 total points
ID: 37780039
update table_name set `condition`=(select a.b from (select 'new' as b union select 'old' as b) a order by rand() limit 1);

See it in action below (I just used book_id to quickly create a test table, but the ending SQL should work with any table:
``````mysql> create table book_test (book_id int not null auto_increment primary key, `condition` varchar(10));
Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.08 sec)

mysql> insert into book_test (`condition`) values (null),(null),(null),(null),(null),(null),(null),(null),(null);
Query OK, 9 rows affected (0.00 sec)
Records: 9  Duplicates: 0  Warnings: 0

mysql> select * from book_test;
+---------+-----------+
| book_id | condition |
+---------+-----------+
|       1 | NULL      |
|       2 | NULL      |
|       3 | NULL      |
|       4 | NULL      |
|       5 | NULL      |
|       6 | NULL      |
|       7 | NULL      |
|       8 | NULL      |
|       9 | NULL      |
+---------+-----------+
9 rows in set (0.00 sec)

mysql> update book_test set `condition`=(select a.b from (select 'new' as b union select 'old' as b) a order by rand() limit 1);
Query OK, 9 rows affected (0.00 sec)
Rows matched: 9  Changed: 9  Warnings: 0

mysql> select * from book_test;
+---------+-----------+
| book_id | condition |
+---------+-----------+
|       1 | old       |
|       2 | new       |
|       3 | new       |
|       4 | old       |
|       5 | new       |
|       6 | old       |
|       7 | old       |
|       8 | new       |
|       9 | old       |
+---------+-----------+
9 rows in set (0.00 sec)
``````
Looks random.  Let's see it run again:
``````mysql> update book_test set `condition`=(select a.b from (select 'new' as b union select 'old' as b) a order by rand() limit 1);
Query OK, 5 rows affected (0.00 sec)
Rows matched: 9  Changed: 5  Warnings: 0

mysql> select * from book_test;
+---------+-----------+
| book_id | condition |
+---------+-----------+
|       1 | old       |
|       2 | new       |
|       3 | old       |
|       4 | new       |
|       5 | new       |
|       6 | new       |
|       7 | old       |
|       8 | old       |
|       9 | new       |
+---------+-----------+
9 rows in set (0.00 sec)
``````
0

Author Comment

ID: 37782456
thanks mate, that was amazing, it did the trick
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