Prometheus 2.20 added a group aggregator. What is it for?

If you wanted to count the number of unique values a label has, such as say the number of values the cpu label had in node_cpu_seconds_total per instance the standard pattern is:

count without(cpu) (
  count without(mode) (node_cpu_seconds_total)
)

That is first you aggregate away any other labels that don't matter with the inner aggregation (here just the mode label), and then count the resulting series with the outer aggregation.

 

The thing is though that the inner aggregation doesn't have to be count. It could be sum, max, or even stddev, because it's not the numeric result of the aggregation that we care about but instead the labels on the resultant time series. This is where group comes in. group always produces 1 as a the value of the aggregation group, but more importantly signifies for anyone reading the PromQL expression that it is the aggregation's label handling that is what's important rather than the numeric result:

count without(cpu) (
  group without(mode) (node_cpu_seconds_total)
)

 

Finally, as the value is 1 you could also use sum for the outer aggregation similarly to how you could for info metrics.

 

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