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The Best SQL Lectures on YouTube

YouTube contains a vast amount of information. The trick is to know how to find what’s valuable. If you type “SQL lectures” in the YouTube search engine, you will probably get a list of boring or unhelpful clips. However, there are hidden gems, and I’ve compiled a list of the best SQL talks I’ve found on YouTube so far.

First, let's establish one thing. I didn't choose any YouTube SQL tutorials when making this list. You won't learn SQL functions or queries from these clips (at least that's not their primary purpose). This is a list of speeches and lectures that are intended to deepen your knowledge and inspire you to think.

1. Modern SQL: A Lot Has Changed Since SQL-92 by Markus Winand

This is a 55-minute lecture by Markus Winand given during the Voxxed Days conference in Vienna in 2018. Markus is an independent author, trainer, and consultant. His publications include the book "SQL Performance Explained."

I've watched a few of his lectures, and this one is the best. You will learn about what has changed in SQL since it was invented over 40 years ago.

Markus covers the most important dates in the development of SQL. One important date is 1992, when SQL became the industry standard. And as he says, "Since SQL-92, a lot has happened."

You've probably heard many times that SQL is a relational database language. This is true, but Markus proves that SQL can do much more. He simply and clearly explains how SQL was extended to non-relational operations and data structures in 1999.

You will find out how the creators of popular databases such as PostgreSQL, MS SQL Server, and MySQL reacted to this. And you will also find out how long it took them to adjust to these changes.

The coolest thing about this talk is that Markus uses specific examples. The points he discusses are well-illustrated.

He knows that not all of his listeners are SQL experts, and the talk is geared toward everyone. Sometimes he even jokes. Although English is not his native language, the talk is very pleasant to listen to.

It's worth watching this lecture. It nicely describes the SQL standard revolution and its subsequent extensions. Nothing ever stays the same: as the world changes, databases change, and SQL follows them.

2. Ten SQL Tricks That You Didn’t Think Were Possible by Lukas Eder

I could just say that this lecture simply proves that SQL is great, but that would be too easy. Lukas Eder is a programmer and SQL expert from Zurich, Switzerland. He has extensive knowledge, especially about Oracle. Don't worry though! Most of what he says works well with any database on the market.

“SQL is a device whose mystery is only exceeded by its power!”

Lukas proves how awesome SQL is with brilliant examples. They show why this powerful, query-based language makes a difference. Like Markus, he describes how Standard SQL has evolved over the decades and that today it is much more than just SELECT and WHERE.

Lukas promises tricks and delivers. Discover how to generate data with recursive queries, how to use pivots, and why anything can be a table. This helpful knowledge is not always obvious.

The information is presented with humor and memes. If this guy didn't want to stay in IT, he could definitely be a stand-up comedian. You will have a smile on your face for the entire 45 minutes of the lecture.

3. How Modern SQL Databases Come up With Algorithms That You Would Have Never Dreamed of by Lukas Eder

Why is another lecture by Lukas on the list? It's as brilliant as the first! This guy knows what he's talking about.

He gives good examples and explains them in a hilarious way. I must admit that I actually snorted with laughter.

The lecture is divided into two main parts. In the first, you will learn how SQL will increase your productivity and efficiency.

Interestingly, the problems and their solutions are compared using SQL and Java. I'll tell you right away that SQL is much better: compare the short SQL queries to the miles of Java code. Simply, SQL queries are faster and easier to write.

The second part proves that SQL is the logical choice for businesses that use databases. You'll find out why it's faster, how it affects other applications and their performance, and why you should use it.

Plus, he explains how to use indexes and other tricks that make things easier. After listening to his arguments, you'll agree that SQL is amazing.

This lecture is great even without knowing advanced SQL. Why? Because Lukas explains everything clearly and does it in a funny way. It is worth spending these 50 minutes.

4. Introduction To NoSQL by Martin Fowler

If Markus and Lukas are experts, Martin Fowler is an IT giant. He specializes in object-oriented analysis and design and is an academic lecturer and author of many books on programming and its architecture.

I recommend his books. If you are interested in SQL books, check out my list of best SQL books worth reading.

This lecture explains what NoSQL is. I found it while I was preparing to write an article about the differences between SQL and NoSQL, and it does the job.

From just the first few sentences, you can tell that Martin has many years of experience in lecturing on difficult issues. He does it efficiently, lightly, and pleasantly. How do you clearly explain key-value bases with humor? Somehow, he does.

So, what's all the fuss about NoSQL? Learn the history of this movement and its main assumptions. Find out why the battle between NoSQL and SQL supporters is pointless. Both solutions have different applications and well-established market positions.

This great 55-minute lecture was recorded at the GOTO conference in Aarhus in 2012. If you haven't seen it yet, add it to your playlist!

5. Beyond the Numbers: A Data Analyst Journey by Anna Leach

The TEDx conference needs no introduction. These speeches are always worth listening to, regardless of the topic. You will find philosophers, politicians, motivational speakers, and other experts.

From the TEDx talks about SQL and data, I chose the one presented by...a mathematician. Anna Leach has a Ph.D. in mathematics and works as a Data Analyst.

Data analysis is a huge sector of the economy. In our courses and tracks (for example, SQL from A to Z), we teach how to effectively and efficiently use SQL for analysis. In our SQL Reporting courses, we show how you can translate data analysis into business goals.

Anna talks about her life and working for universities and corporations. She shows that people sometimes go through the motions without answering basic questions. Why are we doing something? Who can it help?

She argues that data analytics is as much art as science. Anyone can be curious and research information to tell a story. I couldn't agree more. She says that mathematics and the analysis based on it can be beautiful.

It's worth understanding this perspective, especially if you are planning a career as a Data Analyst. It is highly motivating, and you will want to learn more and change the world.

6. Making Data Mean More Through Storytelling by Ben Wellington

Here is another interesting and motivating speech from TEDx, this time about Data Storytelling. Ben Wellington is a computer scientist, a data analyst, and the author of an interesting blog: I Quant NY. He uses New York open data to tell stories about life in the city.

In his lecture, he talks about the results from analyzing parking ticket geography and the places where accidents involving cyclists most often occur. He shows how the analysis of raw data can turn into a story about the lives of ordinary people.

It's about making an impact. Many of his findings went viral and were published in mainstream media. Later, they ended up in the city hall, where they caused a policy change. Isn't that cool?

Not only does Ben explain everything well but he has also been doing stage improv for years, which helps him create such funny lectures.

7. Generating Fractals… With SQL Queries by Michael Malis

As Monty Python's Flying Circus used to say...and now for something completely different! Honestly, when I started watching this video, I asked "why?" Later, I had to pick my jaw up off the floor.

At the Con West 2019 conference, database expert Michael Malis showed what may have originally been a joke or an idea born during a coffee break. He proved that you can use SQL to create fractals.

However abstract it might sound, he showed two things: the power of SQL and how intelligent he is. From his description, the mathematical formulas he used sound simple. But believe me, they are not.

It is a super-interesting and certainly unusual speech that will take you a little over 10 minutes to listen to. I would have never thought about something like that, and yet, it can be done.


So, this is my list of interesting SQL talks on YouTube. There are, of course, many more. Can you recommend one? Write about it in the comments.

In the first paragraph, I explained that these won't be SQL tutorials. If you are looking for SQL tutorials, I wrote another article: YouTube Tutorials That Actually Teach You Some SQL. Enjoy!

Do you want to learn SQL but don't know where to start? I recommend the excellent SQL Basics course. It is well-designed and interactive. You will learn everything you need to know for working with databases.