|Oracle9i SQL Reference
Release 1 (9.0.1)
Part Number A90125-01
SQL Queries and Other SQL Statements, 2 of 3
A query is an operation that retrieves data from one or more tables or views. In this reference, a top-level
SELECT statement is called a query, and a query nested within another SQL statement is called a subquery.
This section describes some types of queries and subqueries and how to use them. The top level of the syntax is shown in this chapter.
The list of expressions that appears after the
SELECT keyword and before the
FROM clause is called the select list. Within the select list, you specify one or more columns in the set of rows you want Oracle to return from one or more tables, views, or materialized views. The number of columns, as well as their datatype and length, are determined by the elements of the select list.
If two or more tables have some column names in common, you must qualify column names with names of tables. Otherwise, fully qualified column names are optional. However, it is always a good idea to qualify table and column references explicitly. Oracle often does less work with fully qualified table and column names.
You can use a column alias, c_alias, to label the preceding expression in the select list so that the column is displayed with a new heading. The alias effectively renames the select list item for the duration of the query. The alias can be used in the
BY clause, but not other clauses in the query.
You can use comments in a
SELECT statement to pass instructions, or hints, to the Oracle optimizer. The optimizer uses hints to choose an execution plan for the statement.
If a table contains hierarchical data, you can select rows in a hierarchical order using the hierarchical query clause:
WITHspecifies the root row(s) of the hierarchy.
BYspecifies the relationship between parent rows and child rows of the hierarchy. Some part of the
connect_by_conditionmust use the
PRIORoperator to refer to the parent row.
connect_by_conditionfor the parent row of the current row in a hierarchical query.
PRIORis a unary operator and has the same precedence as the unary + and - arithmetic operators.
The manner in which Oracle processes a
WHERE clause (if any) in a hierarchical query depends on whether the
WHERE clause contains a join:
WHEREpredicate contains a join, Oracle applies the join predicates before doing the
WHEREclause does not contain a join) after doing the
BYprocessing without affecting the other rows of the hierarchy.
Oracle uses the information from the hierarchical query clause to form the hierarchy using the following steps:
WHEREclause either before or after the
BYclause depending on whether the
WHEREclause contains any join predicates (as described in the preceding bullet list).
BYcondition with respect to one of the root rows.
BYcondition with respect to a current parent row.
WHEREclause without a join, Oracle eliminates all rows from the hierarchy that do not satisfy the condition of the
WHEREclause. Oracle evaluates this condition for each row individually, rather than removing all the children of a row that does not satisfy the condition.
To find the children of a parent row, Oracle evaluates the
PRIOR expression of the
BY condition for the parent row and the other expression for each row in the table. Rows for which the condition is true are the children of the parent. The
BY condition can contain other conditions to further filter the rows selected by the query. The
BY condition cannot contain a subquery.
BY condition results in a loop in the hierarchy, Oracle returns an error. A loop occurs if one row is both the parent (or grandparent or direct ancestor) and a child (or a grandchild or a direct descendent) of another row.
The following hierarchical query uses the
BY clause to define the relationship between employees and managers:
SELECT employee_id, last_name, manager_id FROM employees CONNECT BY PRIOR employee_id = manager_id; EMPLOYEE_ID LAST_NAME MANAGER_ID ----------- ------------------------- ---------- 101 Kochhar 100 108 Greenberg 101 109 Faviet 108 110 Chen 108 111 Sciarra 108 112 Urman 108 113 Popp 108 200 Whalen 101 . . .
The next example is similar to the preceding example, but uses the
LEVEL pseudocolumn to show parent and child rows:
SELECT employee_id, last_name, manager_id, LEVEL FROM employees CONNECT BY PRIOR employee_id = manager_id; EMPLOYEE_ID LAST_NAME MANAGER_ID LEVEL ----------- ------------------------- ---------- ---------- 101 Kochhar 100 1 108 Greenberg 101 2 109 Faviet 108 3 110 Chen 108 3 111 Sciarra 108 3 112 Urman 108 3 113 Popp 108 3 . . .
You can combine multiple queries using the set operators
MINUS. All set operators have equal precedence. If a SQL statement contains multiple set operators, Oracle evaluates them from the left to right if no parentheses explicitly specify another order.
The corresponding expressions in the select lists of the component queries of a compound query must match in number and datatype. If component queries select character data, the datatype of the return values are determined as follows:
CHAR, the returned values have datatype
VARCHAR2, the returned values have datatype
Restrictions on set operators:
BFILE, varray, or nested table.
MINUSoperators are not valid on
for_update_clausewith these set operators.
subqueryof these operators.
The following examples combine the two query results with each of the set operators.
The following statement combines the results with the
UNION operator, which eliminates duplicate selected rows. This statement shows that you must match datatype (using the
TO_CHAR function) when columns do not exist in one or the other table:
SELECT location_id, department_name "Department", TO_CHAR(NULL) "Warehouse" FROM departments UNION SELECT location_id, TO_CHAR(NULL) "Department", warehouse_name FROM warehouses; LOCATION_ID Department Warehouse ----------- --------------------- -------------------------- 1400 IT 1400 Southlake, Texas 1500 Shipping 1500 San Francisco 1600 New Jersey 1700 Accounting 1700 Administration 1700 Benefits 1700 Construction . . .
UNION operator returns only distinct rows that appear in either result, while the
ALL operator returns all rows. The
ALL operator does not eliminate duplicate selected rows:
SELECT product_id FROM order_items UNION SELECT product_id FROM inventories; SELECT location_id FROM locations UNION ALL SELECT location_id FROM departments;
location_id value that appears multiple times in either or both queries (such as '
1700') is returned only once by the
UNION operator, but multiple times by the
The following statement combines the results with the
INTERSECT operator, which returns only those rows returned by both queries:
The following statement combines results with the
MINUS operator, which returns only rows returned by the first query but not by the second:
BY clause to order the rows selected by a query. Sorting by position is useful in the following cases:
BYclause must use positions, rather than explicit expressions. Also, the
BYclause can appear only in the last component query. The
BYclause orders all rows returned by the entire compound query.
The mechanism by which Oracle sorts values for the
BY clause is specified either explicitly by the
NLS_SORT initialization parameter or implicitly by the
NLS_LANGUAGE initialization parameter. You can change the sort mechanism dynamically from one linguistic sort sequence to another using the
SESSION statement. You can also specify a specific sort sequence for a single query by using the
NLSSORT function with the
NLS_SORT parameter in the
Oracle9i Globalization Support Guide for information on the NLS parameters
A join is a query that combines rows from two or more tables, views, or materialized views. Oracle performs a join whenever multiple tables appear in the query's
FROM clause. The query's select list can select any columns from any of these tables. If any two of these tables have a column name in common, you must qualify all references to these columns throughout the query with table names to avoid ambiguity.
Most join queries contain
WHERE clause conditions that compare two columns, each from a different table. Such a condition is called a join condition. To execute a join, Oracle combines pairs of rows, each containing one row from each table, for which the join condition evaluates to
TRUE. The columns in the join conditions need not also appear in the select list.
To execute a join of three or more tables, Oracle first joins two of the tables based on the join conditions comparing their columns and then joins the result to another table based on join conditions containing columns of the joined tables and the new table. Oracle continues this process until all tables are joined into the result. The optimizer determines the order in which Oracle joins tables based on the join conditions, indexes on the tables, and, in the case of the cost-based optimization approach, statistics for the tables.
In addition to join conditions, the
WHERE clause of a join query can also contain other conditions that refer to columns of only one table. These conditions can further restrict the rows returned by the join query.
You cannot specify LOB columns in the
An equijoin is a join with a join condition containing an equality operator. An equijoin combines rows that have equivalent values for the specified columns. Depending on the internal algorithm the optimizer chooses to execute the join, the total size of the columns in the equijoin condition in a single table may be limited to the size of a data block minus some overhead. The size of a data block is specified by the initialization parameter
A self join is a join of a table to itself. This table appears twice in the
FROM clause and is followed by table aliases that qualify column names in the join condition. To perform a self join, Oracle combines and returns rows of the table that satisfy the join condition.
If two tables in a join query have no join condition, Oracle returns their Cartesian product. Oracle combines each row of one table with each row of the other. A Cartesian product always generates many rows and is rarely useful. For example, the Cartesian product of two tables, each with 100 rows, has 10,000 rows. Always include a join condition unless you specifically need a Cartesian product. If a query joins three or more tables and you do not specify a join condition for a specific pair, the optimizer may choose a join order that avoids producing an intermediate Cartesian product.
An inner join (sometimes called a "simple join") is a join of two or more tables that returns only those rows that satisfy the join condition.
An outer join extends the result of a simple join. An outer join returns all rows that satisfy the join condition and also returns some or all of those rows from one table for which no rows from the other satisfy the join condition.
JOINsyntax, or apply the outer join operator (+) to all columns of B in the join condition. For all rows in A that have no matching rows in B, Oracle returns null for any select list expressions containing columns of B.
OUTER] syntax, or apply the outer join operator (+) to all columns of A in the join condition. For all rows in B that have no matching rows in A, Oracle returns null for any select list expressions containing columns of A.
Oracle Corporation recommends that you use the ANSI
JOIN syntax rather than the Oracle join operator. Outer join queries that use the Oracle join operator (+) are subject to the following rules and restrictions, which do not apply to the ANSI syntax:
WHEREclause or, in the context of left-correlation (that is, when specifying the
TABLEclause) in the
FROMclause, and can be applied only to a column of a table or view.
WHERE clause contains a condition that compares a column from table B with a constant, the (+) operator must be applied to the column so that Oracle returns the rows from table A for which it has generated
NULLs for this column. Otherwise Oracle will return only the results of a simple join.
In a query that performs outer joins of more than two pairs of tables, a single table can be the null-generated table for only one other table. For this reason, you cannot apply the (+) operator to columns of B in the join condition for A and B and the join condition for B and C.
A subquery answers multiple-part questions. For example, to determine who works in Taylor's department, you can first use a subquery to determine the department in which Taylor works. You can then answer the original question with the parent
SELECT statement. A subquery in the
FROM clause of a
SELECT statement is also called an inline view. A subquery in the
WHERE clause of a
SELECT statement is also called a nested subquery.
A subquery can contain another subquery. Oracle imposes no limit on the number of subquery levels in the
FROM clause of the top-level query. You can nest up to 255 levels of subqueries in the
If columns in a subquery have the same name as columns in the containing statement, you must prefix any reference to the column of the table from the containing statement with the table name or alias. To make your statements easier for you to read, always qualify the columns in a subquery with the name or alias of the table, view, or materialized view.
Oracle performs a correlated subquery when the subquery references a column from a table referred to in the parent statement. A correlated subquery is evaluated once for each row processed by the parent statement. The parent statement can be a
A correlated subquery answers a multiple-part question whose answer depends on the value in each row processed by the parent statement. For example, you can use a correlated subquery to determine which employees earn more than the average salaries for their departments. In this case, the correlated subquery specifically computes the average salary for each department.
Use subqueries for the following purposes:
You do this by placing the subquery in the
FROM clause of the containing query as you would a table name. You may use subqueries in place of tables in this way as well in
Subqueries so used can employ correlation variables, but only those defined within the subquery itself, not outer references. Outer references ("left-correlated subqueries") are allowed only in the
FROM clause of a
Scalar subqueries, which return a single column value from a single row, are a valid form of expression. You can use scalar subquery expressions in most of the places where expr is called for in syntax.
Subqueries are "nested" when they appear in the
WHERE clause of the parent statement. When Oracle evaluates a statement with a nested subquery, it must evaluate the subquery portion multiple times and may overlook some efficient access paths or joins.
Subquery unnesting unnests and merges the body of the subquery into the body of the statement that contains it, allowing the optimizer to consider them together when evaluating access paths and joins. The optimizer can unnest most subqueries, with some exceptions. Those exceptions include hierarchical subqueries and subqueries that contain a
ROWNUM pseudocolumn, one of the set operators, a nested aggregate function, or a correlated reference to a query block that is not the subquery's immediate outer query block.
Assuming no restrictions exist, the optimizer automatically unnests some (but not all) of the following nested subqueries:
EXISTScorrelated subqueries as long, as they do not contain aggregate functions or a
You can enable extended subquery unnesting by instructing the optimizer to unnest additional types of subqueries:
INsubquery by specifying the
MERGE_AJhint in the subquery.
UNNESThint in the subquery
DUAL is a table automatically created by Oracle along with the data dictionary.
DUAL is in the schema of the user
SYS, but is accessible by the name
DUAL to all users. It has one column,
DUMMY, defined to be
VARCHAR2(1), and contains one row with a value 'X'. Selecting from the
DUAL table is useful for computing a constant expression with the
SELECT statement. Because
DUAL has only one row, the constant is returned only once. Alternatively, you can select a constant, pseudocolumn, or expression from any table, but the value will be returned as many times as there are rows in the table.
"SQL Functions" for many examples of selecting a constant value from
Oracle's distributed database management system architecture lets you access data in remote databases using Oracle Net and an Oracle server. You can identify a remote table, view, or materialized view by appending @dblink to the end of its name. The dblink must be a complete or partial name for a database link to the database containing the remote table, view, or materialized view.
Distributed queries are currently subject to the restriction that all tables locked by a
UPDATE clause and all tables with
LONG columns selected by the query must be located on the same database. For example, the following statement will raise an error:
SELECT employees_ny.* FROM employees_ny@ny, departments WHERE employees_ny.department_id = departments.department_id AND departments.department_name = 'ACCOUNTING' FOR UPDATE OF employees_ny.salary;
The following statement fails because it selects
LONG value, from the
employees_review table on the
ny database and locks the
employees table on the local database:
SELECT employees.employee_id, review.long_column, employees.salary FROM employees, employees_review@ny review WHERE employees.employee_id = employees_review.employee_id FOR UPDATE OF employees.salary;
In addition, Oracle currently does not support distributed queries that select user-defined types or object REFs on remote tables.