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Oracle® Database SQL Reference
10g Release 1 (10.1)

Part Number B10759-01
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Description of decode.gif follows
Description of the illustration decode.gif


DECODE compares expr to each search value one by one. If expr is equal to a search, then Oracle Database returns the corresponding result. If no match is found, then Oracle returns default. If default is omitted, then Oracle returns null.

The arguments can be any of the numeric types (NUMBER, BINARY_FLOAT, or BINARY_DOUBLE) or character types.

The search, result, and default values can be derived from expressions. Oracle evaluates each search value only before comparing it to expr, rather than evaluating all search values before comparing any of them with expr. Consequently, Oracle never evaluates a search if a previous search is equal to expr.

Oracle automatically converts expr and each search value to the datatype of the first search value before comparing. Oracle automatically converts the return value to the same datatype as the first result. If the first result has the datatype CHAR or if the first result is null, then Oracle converts the return value to the datatype VARCHAR2.

In a DECODE function, Oracle considers two nulls to be equivalent. If expr is null, then Oracle returns the result of the first search that is also null.

The maximum number of components in the DECODE function, including expr, searches, results, and default, is 255.

See Also:

"Datatype Comparison Rules " for information on comparison semantics, "Data Conversion " for information on datatype conversion in general, "Floating-Point Numbers " for information on floating-point comparison semantics, and "Implicit and Explicit Data Conversion " for information on the drawbacks of implicit conversion


This example decodes the value warehouse_id. If warehouse_id is 1, then the function returns 'Southlake'; if warehouse_id is 2, then it returns 'San Francisco'; and so forth. If warehouse_id is not 1, 2, 3, or 4, then the function returns 'Non domestic'.

SELECT product_id,
       DECODE (warehouse_id, 1, 'Southlake', 
                             2, 'San Francisco', 
                             3, 'New Jersey', 
                             4, 'Seattle',
                                'Non domestic') 
       "Location of inventory" FROM inventories
       WHERE product_id < 1775;