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$sortByCount (aggregation)

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  • Definition
  • Considerations
  • Behavior
  • Example
$sortByCount

Groups incoming documents based on the value of a specified expression, then computes the count of documents in each distinct group.

Each output document contains two fields: an _id field containing the distinct grouping value, and a count field containing the number of documents belonging to that grouping or category.

The documents are sorted by count in descending order.

The $sortByCount stage has the following prototype form:

{ $sortByCount: <expression> }
Field
Description
expression

Expression to group by. You can specify any expression except for a document literal.

To specify a field path, prefix the field name with a dollar sign $ and enclose it in quotes. For example, to group by the field employee, specify "$employee" as the expression.

{ $sortByCount: "$employee" }

Although you cannot specify a document literal for the group by expression, you can, however, specify a field or an expression that evaluates to a document. For example, if employee and business fields are document fields, then the following $mergeObjects expression, which evaluates to a document, is a valid argument to $sortByCount:

{ $sortByCount: { $mergeObjects: [ "$employee", "$business" ] } }

However, the following example with the document literal expression is invalid:

{ $sortByCount: { lname: "$employee.last", fname: "$employee.first" } }

Tip

See also:

Starting in MongoDB 6.0, pipeline stages that require more than 100 megabytes of memory to execute write temporary files to disk by default. These temporary files last for the duration of the pipeline execution and can influence storage space on your instance. In earlier versions of MongoDB, you must pass { allowDiskUse: true } to individual find and aggregate commands to enable this behavior.

Individual find and aggregate commands can override the allowDiskUseByDefault parameter by either:

  • Using { allowDiskUse: true } to allow writing temporary files out to disk when allowDiskUseByDefault is set to false

  • Using { allowDiskUse: false } to prohibit writing temporary files out to disk when allowDiskUseByDefault is set to true

Note

For MongoDB Atlas, it is recommended to configure storage auto-scaling to prevent long-running queries from filling up storage with temporary files.

If your Atlas cluster uses storage auto-scaling, the temporary files may cause your cluster to scale to the next storage tier.

For additional details, see Aggregation Pipeline Limits.

The $sortByCount stage is equivalent to the following $group + $sort sequence:

{ $group: { _id: <expression>, count: { $sum: 1 } } },
{ $sort: { count: -1 } }

Consider a collection exhibits with the following documents:

{ "_id" : 1, "title" : "The Pillars of Society", "artist" : "Grosz", "year" : 1926, "tags" : [ "painting", "satire", "Expressionism", "caricature" ] }
{ "_id" : 2, "title" : "Melancholy III", "artist" : "Munch", "year" : 1902, "tags" : [ "woodcut", "Expressionism" ] }
{ "_id" : 3, "title" : "Dancer", "artist" : "Miro", "year" : 1925, "tags" : [ "oil", "Surrealism", "painting" ] }
{ "_id" : 4, "title" : "The Great Wave off Kanagawa", "artist" : "Hokusai", "tags" : [ "woodblock", "ukiyo-e" ] }
{ "_id" : 5, "title" : "The Persistence of Memory", "artist" : "Dali", "year" : 1931, "tags" : [ "Surrealism", "painting", "oil" ] }
{ "_id" : 6, "title" : "Composition VII", "artist" : "Kandinsky", "year" : 1913, "tags" : [ "oil", "painting", "abstract" ] }
{ "_id" : 7, "title" : "The Scream", "artist" : "Munch", "year" : 1893, "tags" : [ "Expressionism", "painting", "oil" ] }
{ "_id" : 8, "title" : "Blue Flower", "artist" : "O'Keefe", "year" : 1918, "tags" : [ "abstract", "painting" ] }

The following operation unwinds the tags array and uses the $sortByCount stage to count the number of documents associated with each tag:

db.exhibits.aggregate( [ { $unwind: "$tags" }, { $sortByCount: "$tags" } ] )

The operation returns the following documents, sorted in descending order by count:

{ "_id" : "painting", "count" : 6 }
{ "_id" : "oil", "count" : 4 }
{ "_id" : "Expressionism", "count" : 3 }
{ "_id" : "Surrealism", "count" : 2 }
{ "_id" : "abstract", "count" : 2 }
{ "_id" : "woodblock", "count" : 1 }
{ "_id" : "woodcut", "count" : 1 }
{ "_id" : "ukiyo-e", "count" : 1 }
{ "_id" : "satire", "count" : 1 }
{ "_id" : "caricature", "count" : 1 }

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