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DATA Step Merging Techniques: From Basic to Innovative

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Merging or joining data sets is an integral part of the data consolidation process. Within SAS there are numerous methods and techniques that can be used to combine two or more data sets. We commonly think that within the DATA step the MERGE statement is the only way to join these data sets, while in fact, the MERGE is only one of numerous techniques available to us to perform this process. Each of these techniques has advantages and some have disadvantages. The informed programmer needs to have a grasp of each of these techniques if the correct technique is to be applied.

This paper covers basic merging concepts and options within the DATA step, as well as, a number of techniques that go beyond the traditional MERGE statement. These include fuzzy merges, double SET statements, and the use of key indexing. The discussion will include the relative efficiencies of these techniques, especially when working with large data sets.

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