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The fundamental of SAS programming is DATA step programming. The essence of DATA step programming is to understand how SAS processes the data during the compilation and execution phases. In this paper, you will be exposed to what happens “behind the scenes” while creating a SAS dataset. You will learn how a new dataset is created, one observation at a time, from either a raw text file or an existing SAS dataset, to the program data vector (PDV) and from the PDV to the newly-created SAS dataset. Once you fully understand DATA step processing, learning the SUM and RETAIN statements will become easier to grasp. Relating to this topic, this paper will also cover BY-group processing.