sp_execute_external_script (Transact-SQL)

THIS TOPIC APPLIES TO: yesSQL Server (starting with 2016)noAzure SQL DatabasenoAzure SQL Data Warehouse noParallel Data Warehouse

Executes the script provided as argument at an external location. The script must be written in a supported and registered language. The query tree is controlled by SQL Server and users cannot perform arbitrary operations on the query. To execute sp_execute_external_script, you must first enable external scripts by using the sp_configure 'external scripts enabled', 1; statement.

Topic link icon Transact-SQL Syntax Conventions


    @language = N'language,   
    @script = N'script'  
    [ , @input_data_1 = N'input_data_1' ]   
    [ , @input_data_1_name = N'input_data_1_name' ]   
    [ , @output_data_1_name = N'output_data_1_name' ]  
    [ , @parallel = 0 | 1 ]  
    [ , @params = N'@parameter_name data_type [ OUT | OUTPUT ] [ ,...n ]' ] 
    [ , @parameter1 = 'value1' [ OUT | OUTPUT ] [ ,...n ] ]


@language = N'language'
Indicates the script language. language is sysname.

Valid values are Python or R.

@script = N'script'
External language script specified as a literal or variable input. script is nvarchar(max).

[ @input_data_1_name = N'input_data_1_name' ]
Specifies the name of the variable used to represent the query defined by @input_data_1. The data type of the variable in the external script depends on the language. In case of R, the input variable is a data frame. In the case of Python, input must be tabular. input_data_1_name is sysname.

Default value is "InputDataSet".

[ @input_data_1 = N'input_data_1' ]
Specifies the input data used by the external script in the form of a Transact-SQL query. input_data_1 is nvarchar(max).

[ @output_data_1_name = N'output_data_1_name' ]
Specifies the name of the variable in the external script that contains the data to be returned to SQL Server upon completion of the stored procedure call. The data type of the variable in the external script depends on the language. In the case of R, the output must be a data frame. In the case of Python, the output must be a pandas data frame. output_data_1_name is sysname.

Default value is "OutputDataSet".

[ @parallel = 0 | 1 ]
Enable parallel execution of R scripts by setting the @parallel parameter to 1. The default for this parameter is 0 (no parallelism).

For R scripts that do not use RevoScaleR functions, using the @parallel parameter can be beneficial for processing large datasets, assuming the script can be trivially parallelized. For example, when using the R predict function with a model to generate new predictions, set @parallel = 1 as a hint to the query engine. If the query can be parallelized, rows are distributed according to the MAXDOP setting.

If @parallel = 1 and the output is being streamed directly to the client machine, then the WITH RESULTS SETS clause is required and an output schema must be specified.

For R scripts that use RevoScaleR functions, parallel processing is handled automatically and you should not specify @parallel = 1 to the sp_execute_external_script call.

[ @params = N'@parameter_name data_type [ OUT | OUTPUT ] [ ,...n ]' ]
A list of input parameter declarations that are used in the external script.

[ @parameter1 = 'value1' [ OUT | OUTPUT ] [ ,...n ] ]
A list of values for the input parameters used by the external script.


Use sp_execute_external_script to execute scripts written in a supported language such as R. In SQL Server, R Services (In-Database) is comprised of a server component installed with SQL Server, and a set of workstation tools and connectivity libraries that connect the data scientist to the high-performance environment of SQL Server. Install R Services (In-Database) during SQL Server setup to enable the execution of R scripts. For more information, see Set up SQL Server R Services (In-Database).

You can control the resources used by an external script by configuring an external resource pool. For more information, see CREATE EXTERNAL RESOURCE POOL (Transact-SQL). Information about the workload can be obtained from the resource governor catalog views, DMV's, and counters. For more information, see Resource Governor Catalog Views (Transact-SQL), Resource Governor Related Dynamic Management Views (Transact-SQL), and SQL Server, External Scripts Object.

Monitor script execution using sys.dm_external_script_requests and sys.dm_external_script_execution_stats.

By default, result sets returned by this stored procedure are output with unnamed columns. Column names used within a script are local to the scripting environment and are not reflected in the outputted result set. To name result set columns, use the WITH RESULTS SET clause of EXECUTE.

In addition to returning a result set, you can return scalar values from R script to SQL Server using OUTPUT parameters. The following example shows the use of OUTPUT parameter:

DECLARE @model varbinary(max);  
EXEC sp_execute_external_script  
        @language = N'R'  
        , @script = N'  
    # build classification model to predict tipped or not  
    logitObj <- glm(tipped ~ passenger_count + trip_distance + trip_time_in_secs + direct_distance, data = featureDataSource, family = binomial(link=logit));  

    # First, serialize a model and put it into a database table  
    modelbin <- serialize(logitObj, NULL);  
        , @input_data_1 = N'  
SELECT tipped, passenger_count, trip_time_in_secs, trip_distance, d.direct_distance  
  FROM dbo.nyctaxi_sample TABLESAMPLE (1 PERCENT) REPEATABLE (98074)  
  CROSS APPLY [CalculateDistance](pickup_latitude, pickup_longitude,  dropoff_latitude, dropoff_longitude) as d  
        , @input_data_1_name = N'featureDataSource'  
        , @params = N'@modelbin varbinary(max) OUTPUT'  
        , @modelbin = @model OUTPUT;  

Streaming execution for R script

Streaming execution of R script is supported by specifying @r_rowsPerRead int parameter in @params collection. Streaming allows R scripts to work with data that doesn’t fit in memory. For example, if there are billion rows to score using predict function the new @r_rowsPerRead parameter can be used to split the execution into one stream at a time. Because this parameter controls the number of rows that are sent to the R processes, it can also be used to throttle the number of rows being read at one time. This might be useful to mitigate server performance issues if, for example, a large model is being trained. Note that this parameter can only be used in cases where the output of the R script doesn’t depend on reading or looking at the entire set of rows.

Both the @r_rowsPerRead parameter for streaming and the @parallel argument should be considered hints. For the hint to be applied, it must be possible to generate a SQL query plan that includes parallel processing. If this is not possible, parallel processing cannot be enabled.


Streaming and parallel processing are supported only in Enterprise Edition. You can include the parameters in your queries in Standard Edition without raising an error, but the parameters have no effect and R scripts run in a single process.


Data types: The following data types are not supported when used in the input query or parameters of sp_execute_external_script procedure, and return an unsupported type error.

As a workaround, CAST the column or value to a supported type in Transact-SQL and send it to R.

  • cursor

  • timestamp

  • datetime2, datetimeoffset, time

  • sql_variant

  • text, image

  • xml

  • hierarchyid, geometry, geography

  • CLR user-defined types

    datetime values in the input are converted to NA on the R side for values that do not fit the permissible range of values in R. this is required because SQL Server permits a larger range of values than is supported in the R language.

    Float values (for example, +Inf, -Inf, NaN) are not supported in SQL Server even though both languages use IEEE 754. Current behavior just sends the values to SQL Server directly and as a result sqlclient in Management Studio throws error. These values convert to NULL.

    Any R result set that cannot be mapped to a Transact-SQL data type, is output as NULL.


Requires EXECUTE ANY EXTERNAL SCRIPT database permission.


This section contains examples of how this stored procedure can be used to execute R scripts using Transact-SQL.

A. Return a data set from R to SQL Server

The following example creates a stored procedure that uses sp_execute_external_script to return an iris dataset from R to SQL Server.

DROP PROC IF EXISTS get_iris_dataset;  
CREATE PROC get_iris_dataset  
 EXEC   sp_execute_external_script  
       @language = N'R'  
     , @script = N'iris_data <- iris;'  
     , @input_data_1 = N''  
     , @output_data_1_name = N'iris_data'  
     WITH RESULT SETS (("Sepal.Length" float not null,   
           "Sepal.Width" float not null,  
        "Petal.Length" float not null,   
        "Petal.Width" float not null, "Species" varchar(100)));  

B. Generate a model based on data from SQL Server

The following example creates a stored procedure that uses sp_execute_external_script to generate an iris model and return the model to SQL Server.


This example requires installing the e1071 package. For more information, see Install Additional R Packages on SQL Server.

DROP PROC IF EXISTS generate_iris_model;  

CREATE PROC generate_iris_model  
 EXEC sp_execute_external_script  
      @language = N'R'  
     , @script = N'  
          irismodel <-naiveBayes(iris_data[,1:4], iris_data[,5]);  
          trained_model <- data.frame(payload = as.raw(serialize(irismodel, connection=NULL)));  
     , @input_data_1 = N'select "Sepal.Length", "Sepal.Width", "Petal.Length", "Petal.Width", "Species" from iris_data'  
     , @input_data_1_name = N'iris_data'  
     , @output_data_1_name = N'trained_model'  
    WITH RESULT SETS ((model varbinary(max)));  

See Also

System Stored Procedures (Transact-SQL)
Python Libraries and Data Types
R Libraries and R Data Types
SQL Server R Services
Known Issues for SQL Server R Services
sp_prepare (Transact SQL)
sp_configure (Transact-SQL)
external scripts enabled Server Configuration Option
SQL Server, External Scripts Object