Mastering Conditional Functions in Hive: A Comprehensive Guide

Apache Hive is a data warehousing infrastructure built on top of Hadoop. It provides a SQL-like interface to data stored in Hadoop clusters. One of the powerful features of HiveQL, Hive's query language, is its support for conditional functions. This blog post will guide you through various conditional functions available in Hive.

What are Conditional Functions?

link to this section

Conditional functions in Hive are used to test conditions and return a value based on the outcome of the test. They enable you to perform logical comparisons and return values based on these comparisons, much like using if or case statements in traditional programming languages.

Let's explore some of the most commonly used conditional functions in Hive.

IF Function

The IF function in Hive works similarly to IF statements in other programming languages. The syntax is IF(condition, trueValue, falseValue) . The function returns trueValue if the condition is true; otherwise, it returns falseValue .


SELECT id, IF(salary > 50000, 'High', 'Low') as salary_category FROM employees; 

In this query, the IF function returns 'High' if the salary is greater than 50000; otherwise, it returns 'Low'.

CASE...WHEN...THEN...ELSE...END Statement

The CASE statement is a more flexible alternative to the IF function. It allows for multiple conditions and returns a value when the first condition is met. If no conditions are true, it returns the value in the ELSE clause. If there is no ELSE part and no conditions are true, it returns NULL .


        WHEN salary > 70000 THEN 'High' 
        WHEN salary > 50000 THEN 'Medium' 
        ELSE 'Low' 
    END as salary_category 
FROM employees; 

This query will return 'High' for salaries above 70000, 'Medium' for salaries between 50000 and 70000, and 'Low' for salaries below 50000.


The COALESCE function is used to return the first non-null value from a list of values. The syntax is COALESCE(value1, value2, ...) . If all values are null, COALESCE returns NULL .


SELECT COALESCE(null, 'Hello', 'World') FROM employees; 

This query will return 'Hello' because it's the first non-null value in the list.


The ISNULL function returns true if the given value is NULL ; otherwise, it returns false . The ISNOTNULL function works just the opposite, returning true if the given value is not NULL .


SELECT id, ISNULL(salary) as is_salary_null FROM employees; 

This query will return true if the salary is null; otherwise, it will return false.

NULLIF Function

The NULLIF function returns NULL if two values are equal; otherwise, it returns the first value. The syntax is NULLIF(value1, value2) .


SELECT NULLIF(5,5) FROM employees; 

This query will return null because the two values are equal.


link to this section

Hive's conditional functions offer powerful tools for creating flexible, dynamic queries. By mastering these functions, you can handle a variety of data scenarios, perform complex logic within your Hive queries, and manipulate your data more effectively and efficiently.