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Oracle® Database SQL Reference
10g Release 2 (10.2)

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Using Subqueries

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 Database 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 WHERE clause.

If columns in a subquery have the same name as columns in the containing statement, then 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 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 a nested subquery references a column from a table referred to a parent statement any number of levels above the subquery. The parent statement can be a SELECT, UPDATE, or DELETE statement in which the subquery is nested. A correlated subquery is evaluated once for each row processed by the parent statement. Oracle resolves unqualified columns in the subquery by looking in the tables named in the subquery and then in the tables named in the parent statement.

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: