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Oracle9i SQL Reference
Release 2 (9.2)

Part Number A96540-02
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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, then you must qualify all references to these columns throughout the query with table names to avoid ambiguity.

Join Conditions

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 WHERE clause if the WHERE clause contains any joins. The use of LOBs in WHERE clauses is also subject to other restrictions. See Oracle9i Application Developer's Guide - Large Objects (LOBs) for more information.


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 DB_BLOCK_SIZE.

See Also:

"Using Join Queries: Examples"

Self Joins

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.

See Also:

"Using Self Joins: Example"

Cartesian Products

If two tables in a join query have no join condition, then 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, then the optimizer may choose a join order that avoids producing an intermediate Cartesian product.

Inner Joins

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.

Outer Joins

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.

Oracle Corporation recommends that you use the FROM clause OUTER 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 FROM clause join syntax:

If the WHERE clause contains a condition that compares a column from table B with a constant, then 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.

See Also:

SELECT for the syntax for an outer join