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Oracle9i SQL Reference
Release 2 (9.2)

Part Number A96540-02
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A pseudocolumn behaves like a table column, but is not actually stored in the table. You can select from pseudocolumns, but you cannot insert, update, or delete their values. This section describes these pseudocolumns:


A sequence is a schema object that can generate unique sequential values. These values are often used for primary and unique keys. You can refer to sequence values in SQL statements with these pseudocolumns:

You must qualify CURRVAL and NEXTVAL with the name of the sequence:


To refer to the current or next value of a sequence in the schema of another user, you must have been granted either SELECT object privilege on the sequence or SELECT ANY SEQUENCE system privilege, and you must qualify the sequence with the schema containing it:


To refer to the value of a sequence on a remote database, you must qualify the sequence with a complete or partial name of a database link:

See Also:

"Referring to Objects in Remote Databases" for more information on referring to database links

Where to Use Sequence Values

You can use CURRVAL and NEXTVAL in:

Restrictions on Sequence Values

You cannot use CURRVAL and NEXTVAL in the following constructs:

Also, within a single SQL statement that uses CURRVAL or NEXTVAL, all referenced LONG columns, updated tables, and locked tables must be located on the same database.

How to Use Sequence Values

When you create a sequence, you can define its initial value and the increment between its values. The first reference to NEXTVAL returns the sequence's initial value. Subsequent references to NEXTVAL increment the sequence value by the defined increment and return the new value. Any reference to CURRVAL always returns the sequence's current value, which is the value returned by the last reference to NEXTVAL. Note that before you use CURRVAL for a sequence in your session, you must first initialize the sequence with NEXTVAL.

Within a single SQL statement containing a reference to NEXTVAL, Oracle increments the sequence only once:

If any of these locations contains more than one reference to NEXTVAL, then Oracle increments the sequence once and returns the same value for all occurrences of NEXTVAL.

If any of these locations contains references to both CURRVAL and NEXTVAL, then Oracle increments the sequence and returns the same value for both CURRVAL and NEXTVAL.

A sequence can be accessed by many users concurrently with no waiting or locking.

See Also:

CREATE SEQUENCE for information on sequences

Finding the current value of a sequence: Example

This example selects the next value of the employee sequence in the sample schema hr:

SELECT employees_seq.nextval 
Inserting sequence values into a table: Example

This example increments the employee sequence and uses its value for a new employee inserted into the sample table hr.employees:

INSERT INTO employees
   VALUES (employees_seq.nextval, 'John', 'Doe', 'jdoe', 
   '555-1212', TO_DATE(SYSDATE), 'PU_CLERK', 2500, null, null,
Reusing the current value of a sequence: Example

This example adds a new order with the next order number to the master order table. It then adds suborders with this number to the detail order table:

INSERT INTO orders (order_id, order_date, customer_id)
   VALUES (orders_seq.nextval, TO_DATE(SYSDATE), 106);

INSERT INTO order_items (order_id, line_item_id, product_id)
   VALUES (orders_seq.currval, 1, 2359);

INSERT INTO order_items (order_id, line_item_id, product_id)
   VALUES (orders_seq.currval, 2, 3290);

INSERT INTO order_items (order_id, line_item_id, product_id)
   VALUES (orders_seq.currval, 3, 2381);


For each row returned by a hierarchical query, the LEVEL pseudocolumn returns 1 for a root row, 2 for a child of a root, and so on. A root row is the highest row within an inverted tree. A child row is any nonroot row. A parent row is any row that has children. A leaf row is any row without children. Figure 2-1 shows the nodes of an inverted tree with their LEVEL values.

Figure 2-1 Hierarchical Tree

Text description of sql_elements78a.gif follows
Text description of the illustration sql_elements78a.gif

To define a hierarchical relationship in a query, you must use the START WITH and CONNECT BY clauses.

Restriction on LEVEL in WHERE Clauses

In a [NOT] IN condition in a WHERE clause, if the right-hand side of the condition is a subquery, you cannot use LEVEL on the left-hand side of the condition. However, you can specify LEVEL in a subquery of the FROM clause to achieve the same result. For example, the following statement is not valid:

SELECT employee_id, last_name FROM employees
   WHERE (employee_id, LEVEL) 
      IN (SELECT employee_id, 2 FROM employees)
   START WITH employee_id = 2
   CONNECT BY PRIOR employee_id = manager_id;

But the following statement is valid because it encapsulates the query containing the LEVEL information in the FROM clause:

SELECT v.employee_id, v.last_name, v.lev 
      (SELECT employee_id, last_name, LEVEL lev 
      FROM employees v
      START WITH employee_id = 100 
      CONNECT BY PRIOR employee_id = manager_id) v 
   WHERE (v.employee_id, v.lev) IN
      (SELECT employee_id, 2 FROM employees); 
See Also:

"Hierarchical Queries" for information on hierarchical queries in general


For each row in the database, the ROWID pseudocolumn returns a row's address. Oracle9i rowid values contain information necessary to locate a row:

Usually, a rowid value uniquely identifies a row in the database. However, rows in different tables that are stored together in the same cluster can have the same rowid.

Values of the ROWID pseudocolumn have the datatype ROWID or UROWID.

See Also:

"ROWID Datatype" and "UROWID Datatype"

Rowid values have several important uses:

You should not use ROWID as a table's primary key. If you delete and reinsert a row with the Import and Export utilities, for example, then its rowid may change. If you delete a row, then Oracle may reassign its rowid to a new row inserted later.

Although you can use the ROWID pseudocolumn in the SELECT and WHERE clause of a query, these pseudocolumn values are not actually stored in the database. You cannot insert, update, or delete a value of the ROWID pseudocolumn.


This statement selects the address of all rows that contain data for employees in department 20:

SELECT ROWID, last_name  
   FROM employees
   WHERE department_id = 20;


For each row returned by a query, the ROWNUM pseudocolumn returns a number indicating the order in which Oracle selects the row from a table or set of joined rows. The first row selected has a ROWNUM of 1, the second has 2, and so on.

You can use ROWNUM to limit the number of rows returned by a query, as in this example:

SELECT * FROM employees WHERE ROWNUM < 10;

If an ORDER BY clause follows ROWNUM in the same query, then the rows will be reordered by the ORDER BY clause. The results can vary depending on the way the rows are accessed. For example, if the ORDER BY clause causes Oracle to use an index to access the data, then Oracle may retrieve the rows in a different order than without the index. Therefore, the following statement will not have the same effect as the preceding example:

SELECT * FROM employees WHERE ROWNUM < 11 ORDER BY last_name;

If you embed the ORDER BY clause in a subquery and place the ROWNUM condition in the top-level query, then you can force the ROWNUM condition to be applied after the ordering of the rows. For example, the following query returns the 10 smallest employee numbers. This is sometimes referred to as a "top-N query":

   (SELECT * FROM employees ORDER BY employee_id)

In the preceding example, the ROWNUM values are those of the top-level SELECT statement, so they are generated after the rows have already been ordered by employee_id in the subquery.

See Also:

Oracle9i Application Developer's Guide - Fundamentals for more information about top-N queries

Conditions testing for ROWNUM values greater than a positive integer are always false. For example, this query returns no rows:

SELECT * FROM employees

The first row fetched is assigned a ROWNUM of 1 and makes the condition false. The second row to be fetched is now the first row and is also assigned a ROWNUM of 1 and makes the condition false. All rows subsequently fail to satisfy the condition, so no rows are returned.

You can also use ROWNUM to assign unique values to each row of a table, as in this example:

UPDATE my_table
    SET column1 = ROWNUM;


Using ROWNUM in a query can affect view optimization. For more information, see Oracle9i Database Concepts.


Oracle stores XMLType data either in LOB or object-relational columns, based on XMLSchema information and how you specify the storage clause. The XMLDATA pseudocolumn lets you access the underlying LOB or object relational column to specify additional storage clause parameters, constraints, indexes, and so forth.


The following statements illustrate the use of this pseudocolumn. Suppose you create a simple table of XMLType:

CREATE TABLE xml_lob_tab of XMLTYPE;

The default storage is in a CLOB column. To change the storage characteristics of the underlying LOB column, you can use the following statement:


Now suppose you have created an XMLSchema-based table like the xwarehouses table created in "Using XML in SQL Statements". You could then use the XMLDATA column to set the properties of the underlying columns, as shown in the following statement:

ALTER TABLE xwarehouses ADD (UNIQUE(XMLDATA."WarehouseId"));