Semi additive measures in DAX / BISM Tabular

13.08.2011 Hilmar Buchta

SQL Server Denali |  PowerPivot

Semi additive measures, i.e. measures that have to be aggregated differently over different dimensions, are commonly used in BI solutions. One example could be stock levels. Of course we don’t want to sum them up over time, but only over product, location etc. For the time, a different aggregation is used, for example average or last value.

The following example shows how to implement some of the most commonly used semi additive measures in DAX.

In my example I’m using PowerPivot (Denali edition), but the same calculations can be used in a BISM Tabular model in Visual Studio.

In order to keep things simple, I’m using just a short table of test data:


As you see, we only have two products with monthly stock levels in 2010 and 2011.

Although not needed for my semi additive measures, I created additional columns in my PowerPivot sheet for convenient reasons: Year, Month, Day (using the corresponding DAX-function with the same name). I also set the newly created columns, as well as the Stocklevel column to hidden (it makes no sense to sum up the stock level). Although the date information is kept in the same table as the data to keep things simple for this example, I encourage to build a separate date dimension table here (similar idea as with a date dimension in a multidimensional model).

Finally, I created a hierarchy named ‘Calendar’ on my newly created date columns:


Now we’re ready for the semi additive measures.

Average (over time)

Let’s start with an easy one, the average over time. Since we can easily compute the distinct count of our date values, we can simply add up the stock level and divide it by the distinct count. In my example the formula looks like this:

  1. Avg Stock:=Sum([Stocklevel])/DISTINCTCOUNT([Date])

Last value (over time)

In order to compute the last value, the DAX function LASTDATE comes in handy. Here is the formula:

  1. Last Stock:=CALCULATE(SUM([Stocklevel]),LASTDATE(‚Stock‘[Date]))

Min/Max value (over time)

For min/max we have to be a little bit more tricky. In the approach I’m showing here, I’m grouping the table by date by using the SUMMARIZE function and the SUM aggregation. Then I’m using the function MINX or MAXX to find the minimal or maximal value.

Here are the two formulas:

  1. Max Stock:=MINX(SUMMARIZE(‚Stock‘,‚Stock‘&SQUARE_BRACKETS_OPEN;Date],„SumByDate“,SUM(‚Stock‘[Stocklevel])),[SumByDate])
  2. Max Stock:=MAXX(SUMMARIZE(‚Stock‘,‚Stock‘&SQUARE_BRACKETS_OPEN;Date],„SumByDate“,SUM(‚Stock‘[Stocklevel])),[SumByDate])

To understand these formulas you can see the effect pretty well after restoring the PowerPivot workbook to a SSAS server in tabular mode. After doing so, we can create a query to show the result of the inner SUMMARIZE function using this DAX query:

  1. evaluate(
  2. SUMMARIZE(‚Stock‘,‚Stock‘&SQUARE_BRACKETS_OPEN;Date],„SumByDate“,SUM(‚Stock‘[Stocklevel]))
  3. )

Here’s the result:


The MinX or MaxX function simply takes the lowest/highest value from this table.

Now let’s see, how this looks like in Excel. The following screenshot shows the calculations in my PowerPivot sheet:


Here’s the result in Excel


And of course, the aggregations also work correctly when filtering the data as shown below (single select on product and multi select on months):


Another cool feature is that besides DAX we can still use standard MDX to query our SSAS tabular model, for example:

  1. select
  2. {[Measures].[Avg Stock],[Measures].[Last Stock],
  3. [Measures].[Min Stock],[Measures].[Max Stock]} on 0,
  4. [Stock].[Calendar].[Year] on 1
  5. from [Model]


A final word about empty (missing) rows: The above calculations need a value of zero as the information that there is no stock at that month. If the value is left blank (no source data row at all), the month itself is treated as missing (interpretation more like we didn’t have this product in our portfolio at all).

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