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8 PL/SQL Subprograms

A PL/SQL subprogram is a named PL/SQL block that can be invoked repeatedly. If the subprogram has parameters, their values can differ for each invocation.

A subprogram is either a procedure or a function. Typically, you use a procedure to perform an action and a function to compute and return a value.

Topics

Reasons to Use Subprograms

Subprograms support the development and maintenance of reliable, reusable code with the following features:

  • Modularity

    Subprograms let you break a program into manageable, well-defined modules.

  • Easier Application Design

    When designing an application, you can defer the implementation details of the subprograms until you have tested the main program, and then refine them one step at a time. (To define a subprogram without implementation details, use the NULL statement, as in Example 4-35.)

  • Maintainability

    You can change the implementation details of a subprogram without changing its invokers.

  • Packageability

    Subprograms can be grouped into packages, whose advantages are explained in "Reasons to Use Packages".

  • Reusability

    Any number of applications, in many different environments, can use the same package subprogram or standalone subprogram.

  • Better Performance

    Each subprogram is compiled and stored in executable form, which can be invoked repeatedly. Because stored subprograms run in the database server, a single invocation over the network can start a large job. This division of work reduces network traffic and improves response times. Stored subprograms are cached and shared among users, which lowers memory requirements and invocation overhead.

Subprograms are an important component of other maintainability features, such as packages (explained in Chapter 10, "PL/SQL Packages") and Abstract Data Types (explained in "Abstract Data Types").

Nested, Package, and Standalone Subprograms

You can create a subprogram either inside a PL/SQL block (which can be another subprogram), inside a package, or at schema level.

A subprogram created inside a PL/SQL block is a nested subprogram. You can either declare and define it at the same time, or you can declare it first and then define it later in the same block (see "Forward Declaration"). A nested subprogram is stored in the database only if it is nested in a standalone or package subprogram.

A subprogram created inside a package is a package subprogram. You declare it in the package specification and define it in the package body. It is stored in the database until you drop the package. (Packages are described in Chapter 10, "PL/SQL Packages.")

A subprogram created at schema level is a standalone subprogram. You create it with the CREATE FUNCTION or CREATE PROCEDURE statement. It is stored in the database until you drop it with the DROP FUNCTION or DROP PROCEDURE statement. (These statements are described in Chapter 14, "SQL Statements for Stored PL/SQL Units.")

A stored subprogram is either a package subprogram or a standalone subprogram. A stored subprogram is affected by the AUTHID and ACCESSIBLE BY clauses, which can appear in the CREATE FUNCTION, CREATE PROCEDURE, and CREATE PACKAGE statements. The AUTHID clause affects the name resolution and privilege checking of SQL statements that the subprogram issues at run time (for more information, see "Invoker's Rights and Definer's Rights (AUTHID Property)"). The ACCESSIBLE BY clause specifies a white list of PL/SQL units that can access the subprogram.

Subprogram Invocations

A subprogram invocation has this form:

subprogram_name [ ( [ parameter [, parameter]... ] ) ]

If the subprogram has no parameters, or specifies a default value for every parameter, you can either omit the parameter list or specify an empty parameter list.

A procedure invocation is a PL/SQL statement. For example:

raise_salary(employee_id, amount);

A function invocation is an expression. For example:

new_salary := get_salary(employee_id);
IF salary_ok(new_salary, new_title) THEN ...

See Also:

"Subprogram Parameters" for more information about specifying parameters in subprogram invocations

Subprogram Parts

A subprogram begins with a subprogram heading, which specifies its name and (optionally) its parameter list.

Like an anonymous block, a subprogram has these parts:

  • Declarative part (optional)

    This part declares and defines local types, cursors, constants, variables, exceptions, and nested subprograms. These items cease to exist when the subprogram completes execution.

    This part can also specify pragmas (described in "Pragmas").

    Note:

    The declarative part of a subprogram does not begin with the keyword DECLARE, as the declarative part of an anonymous block does.
  • Executable part (required)

    This part contains one or more statements that assign values, control execution, and manipulate data. (Early in the application design process, this part might contain only a NULL statement, as in Example 4-35.)

  • Exception-handling part (optional)

    This part contains code that handles runtime errors.

In Example 8-1, an anonymous block simultaneously declares and defines a procedure and invokes it three times. The third invocation raises the exception that the exception-handling part of the procedure handles.

Example 8-1 Declaring, Defining, and Invoking a Simple PL/SQL Procedure

DECLARE
  first_name employees.first_name%TYPE;
  last_name  employees.last_name%TYPE;
  email      employees.email%TYPE;
  employer   VARCHAR2(8) := 'AcmeCorp';
 
  -- Declare and define procedure
 
  PROCEDURE create_email (  -- Subprogram heading begins
    name1   VARCHAR2,
    name2   VARCHAR2,
    company VARCHAR2
  )                         -- Subprogram heading ends
  IS
                            -- Declarative part begins
    error_message VARCHAR2(30) := 'Email address is too long.';
  BEGIN                     -- Executable part begins
    email := name1 || '.' || name2 || '@' || company;
  EXCEPTION                      -- Exception-handling part begins
    WHEN VALUE_ERROR THEN
      DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE(error_message);
  END create_email;
 
BEGIN
  first_name := 'John';
  last_name  := 'Doe';
 
  create_email(first_name, last_name, employer);  -- invocation
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE ('With first name first, email is: ' || email);
 
  create_email(last_name, first_name, employer);  -- invocation
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE ('With last name first, email is: ' || email);
 
  first_name := 'Elizabeth';
  last_name  := 'MacDonald';
  create_email(first_name, last_name, employer);  -- invocation
END;
/

Result:

With first name first, email is: John.Doe@AcmeCorp
With last name first, email is: Doe.John@AcmeCorp
Email address is too long.

Topics

See Also:

Additional Parts for Functions

A function has the same structure as a procedure, except that:

  • A function heading must include a RETURN clause, which specifies the data type of the value that the function returns. (A procedure heading cannot have a RETURN clause.)

  • In the executable part of a function, every execution path must lead to a RETURN statement. Otherwise, the PL/SQL compiler issues a compile-time warning. (In a procedure, the RETURN statement is optional and not recommended. For details, see "RETURN Statement".)

  • Only a function heading can include these options:

Option Description
DETERMINISTIC option Helps the optimizer avoid redundant function invocations.
PARALLEL_ENABLE option Enables the function for parallel execution, making it safe for use in slave sessions of parallel DML evaluations.
PIPELINED option Makes a table function pipelined, for use as a row source.
RESULT_CACHE option Stores function results in the PL/SQL function result cache (appears only in declaration).
RESULT_CACHE clause Stores function results in the PL/SQL function result cache (appears only in definition).

See Also:

In Example 8-2, an anonymous block simultaneously declares and defines a function and invokes it.

Example 8-2 Declaring, Defining, and Invoking a Simple PL/SQL Function

DECLARE
  -- Declare and define function

  FUNCTION square (original NUMBER)   -- parameter list
    RETURN NUMBER                     -- RETURN clause
  AS
                                      -- Declarative part begins
    original_squared NUMBER;
  BEGIN                               -- Executable part begins
    original_squared := original * original;
    RETURN original_squared;          -- RETURN statement
  END;
BEGIN
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE(square(100));  -- invocation
END;
/

Result:

10000

RETURN Statement

The RETURN statement immediately ends the execution of the subprogram or anonymous block that contains it. A subprogram or anonymous block can contain multiple RETURN statements.

Topics

See Also:

"RETURN Statement" for the syntax of the RETURN statement

RETURN Statement in Function

In a function, every execution path must lead to a RETURN statement and every RETURN statement must specify an expression. The RETURN statement assigns the value of the expression to the function identifier and returns control to the invoker, where execution resumes immediately after the invocation.

Note:

In a pipelined table function, a RETURN statement need not specify an expression. For information about the parts of a pipelined table function, see "Creating Pipelined Table Functions".

In Example 8-3, the anonymous block invokes the same function twice. The first time, the RETURN statement returns control to the inside of the invoking statement. The second time, the RETURN statement returns control to the statement immediately after the invoking statement.

Example 8-3 Execution Resumes After RETURN Statement in Function

DECLARE
  x INTEGER;
 
  FUNCTION f (n INTEGER)
  RETURN INTEGER
  IS
  BEGIN
    RETURN (n*n);
  END;
 
BEGIN
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE (
    'f returns ' || f(2) || '. Execution returns here (1).'
  );
  
  x := f(2);
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('Execution returns here (2).');
END;
/

Result:

f returns 4. Execution returns here (1).Execution returns here (2).

In Example 8-4, the function has multiple RETURN statements, but if the parameter is not 0 or 1, then no execution path leads to a RETURN statement. The function compiles with warning PLW-05005: subprogram F returns without value at line 11.

Example 8-4 Function Where Not Every Execution Path Leads to RETURN Statement

CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION f (n INTEGER)
  RETURN INTEGER
  AUTHID DEFINER
IS
BEGIN
  IF n = 0 THEN
    RETURN 1;
  ELSIF n = 1 THEN
    RETURN n;
  END IF;
END;
/

Example 8-5 is like Example 8-4, except for the addition of the ELSE clause. Every execution path leads to a RETURN statement, and the function compiles without warning PLW-05005.

Example 8-5 Function Where Every Execution Path Leads to RETURN Statement

CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION f (n INTEGER)
  RETURN INTEGER
  AUTHID DEFINER
IS
BEGIN
  IF n = 0 THEN
    RETURN 1;
  ELSIF n = 1 THEN
    RETURN n;
  ELSE
    RETURN n*n;
  END IF;
END;
/
BEGIN
  FOR i IN 0 .. 3 LOOP
    DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('f(' || i || ') = ' || f(i));
  END LOOP;
END;
/

Result:

f(0) = 1
f(1) = 1
f(2) = 4
f(3) = 9

RETURN Statement in Procedure

In a procedure, the RETURN statement returns control to the invoker, where execution resumes immediately after the invocation. The RETURN statement cannot specify an expression.

In Example 8-6, the RETURN statement returns control to the statement immediately after the invoking statement.

Example 8-6 Execution Resumes After RETURN Statement in Procedure

DECLARE
  PROCEDURE p IS
  BEGIN
    DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('Inside p');
    RETURN;
    DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('Unreachable statement.');
  END;
BEGIN
  p;
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('Control returns here.');
END;
/

Result:

Inside p
Control returns here.

RETURN Statement in Anonymous Block

In an anonymous block, the RETURN statement exits its own block and all enclosing blocks. The RETURN statement cannot specify an expression.

In Example 8-7, the RETURN statement exits both the inner and outer block.

Example 8-7 Execution Resumes After RETURN Statement in Anonymous Block

BEGIN
  BEGIN
    DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('Inside inner block.');
    RETURN;
    DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('Unreachable statement.');
  END;
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('Inside outer block. Unreachable statement.');
END;
/

Result:

Inside inner block.

Forward Declaration

If nested subprograms in the same PL/SQL block invoke each other, then one requires a forward declaration, because a subprogram must be declared before it can be invoked.

A forward declaration declares a nested subprogram but does not define it. You must define it later in the same block. The forward declaration and the definition must have the same subprogram heading.

In Example 8-8, an anonymous block creates two procedures that invoke each other.

Example 8-8 Nested Subprograms Invoke Each Other

DECLARE
  -- Declare proc1 (forward declaration):
  PROCEDURE proc1(number1 NUMBER);

  -- Declare and define proc2:
  PROCEDURE proc2(number2 NUMBER) IS
  BEGIN
    proc1(number2);
  END;

  -- Define proc 1:
  PROCEDURE proc1(number1 NUMBER) IS
  BEGIN
    proc2 (number1);
  END;

BEGIN
  NULL;
END;
/

Subprogram Parameters

If a subprogram has parameters, their values can differ for each invocation.

Topics

Formal and Actual Subprogram Parameters

If you want a subprogram to have parameters, declare formal parameters in the subprogram heading. In each formal parameter declaration, specify the name and data type of the parameter, and (optionally) its mode and default value. In the execution part of the subprogram, reference the formal parameters by their names.

When invoking the subprogram, specify the actual parameters whose values are to be assigned to the formal parameters. Corresponding actual and formal parameters must have compatible data types.

Note:

You can declare a formal parameter of a constrained subtype, like this:
DECLARE
  SUBTYPE n1 IS NUMBER(1);
  SUBTYPE v1 IS VARCHAR2(1);
 
  PROCEDURE p (n n1, v v1) IS ...

But you cannot include a constraint in a formal parameter declaration, like this:

DECLARE
  PROCEDURE p (n NUMBER(1), v VARCHAR2(1)) IS ...

Tip:

To avoid confusion, use different names for formal and actual parameters.

Note:

  • Actual parameters (including default values of formal parameters) can be evaluated in any order. If a program determines order of evaluation, then at the point where the program does so, its behavior is undefined.

  • You cannot use LOB parameters in a server-to-server remote procedure call (RPC).

In Example 8-9, the procedure has formal parameters emp_id and amount. In the first procedure invocation, the corresponding actual parameters are emp_num and bonus, whose value are 120 and 100, respectively. In the second procedure invocation, the actual parameters are emp_num and merit + bonus, whose value are 120 and 150, respectively.

Example 8-9 Formal Parameters and Actual Parameters

DECLARE
  emp_num NUMBER(6) := 120;
  bonus   NUMBER(6) := 100;
  merit   NUMBER(4) := 50;

  PROCEDURE raise_salary (
    emp_id NUMBER,  -- formal parameter
    amount NUMBER   -- formal parameter
  ) IS
  BEGIN
    UPDATE employees
    SET salary = salary + amount  -- reference to formal parameter
    WHERE employee_id = emp_id;   -- reference to formal parameter
  END raise_salary;

BEGIN
  raise_salary(emp_num, bonus);          -- actual parameters

  /* raise_salary runs this statement:
       UPDATE employees
       SET salary = salary + 100
       WHERE employee_id = 120;       */

  raise_salary(emp_num, merit + bonus);  -- actual parameters

  /* raise_salary runs this statement:
       UPDATE employees
       SET salary = salary + 150
       WHERE employee_id = 120;       */
END;
/

Topics:

See Also:

Formal Parameters of Constrained Subtypes

If the data type of a formal parameter is a constrained subtype, then:

  • If the subtype has the NOT NULL constraint, then the actual parameter inherits it.

  • If the subtype has the base type VARCHAR2, then the actual parameter does not inherit the size of the subtype.

  • If the subtype has a numeric base type, then the actual parameter inherits the range of the subtype, but not the precision or scale.

Note:

In a function, the clause RETURN datatype declares a hidden formal parameter and the statement RETURN value specifies the corresponding actual parameter. Therefore, if datatype is a constrained data type, then the preceding rules apply to value (see Example 8-11).

Example 8-10 shows that an actual subprogram parameter inherits the NOT NULL constraint but not the size of a VARCHAR2 subtype.

Example 8-10 Actual Parameter Inherits Only NOT NULL from Subtype

DECLARE
  SUBTYPE License IS VARCHAR2(7) NOT NULL;
  n  License := 'DLLLDDD';
 
  PROCEDURE p (x License) IS
  BEGIN
    DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE(x);
  END;
 
BEGIN
  p('1ABC123456789');  -- Succeeds; size is not inherited
  p(NULL);             -- Raises error; NOT NULL is inherited
END;
/

Result:

  p(NULL);             -- Raises error; NOT NULL is inherited
    *
ERROR at line 12:
ORA-06550: line 12, column 5:
PLS-00567: cannot pass NULL to a NOT NULL constrained formal parameter
ORA-06550: line 12, column 3:
PL/SQL: Statement ignored

As Appendix E, "PL/SQL Predefined Data Types" shows, PL/SQL has many predefined data types that are constrained subtypes of other data types. For example, INTEGER is a constrained subtype of NUMBER:

SUBTYPE INTEGER IS NUMBER(38,0);

In Example 8-11, the function has both an INTEGER formal parameter and an INTEGER return type. The anonymous block invokes the function with an actual parameter that is not an integer. Because the actual parameter inherits the range but not the precision and scale of INTEGER, and the actual parameter is in the INTEGER range, the invocation succeeds. For the same reason, the RETURN statement succeeds in returning the noninteger value.

Example 8-11 Actual Parameter and Return Value Inherit Only Range From Subtype

DECLARE
  FUNCTION test (p INTEGER) RETURN INTEGER IS
  BEGIN
    DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('p = ' || p);
    RETURN p;
  END test;
 
BEGIN
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('test(p) = ' || test(0.66));
END;
/

Result:

p = .66
test(p) = .66
 
PL/SQL procedure successfully completed.

In Example 8-12, the function implicitly converts its formal parameter to the constrained subtype INTEGER before returning it.

Example 8-12 Function Implicitly Converts Formal Parameter to Constrained Subtype

DECLARE
  FUNCTION test (p NUMBER) RETURN NUMBER IS
    q INTEGER := p;  -- Implicitly converts p to INTEGER
  BEGIN
    DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('p = ' || q);  -- Display q, not p
    RETURN q;                           -- Return q, not p
  END test;
 
BEGIN
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('test(p) = ' || test(0.66));
END;
/

Result:

p = 1
test(p) = 1
 
PL/SQL procedure successfully completed.

See Also:

"Constrained Subtypes" for general information about constrained subtypes

Subprogram Parameter Passing Methods

The PL/SQL compiler has two ways of passing an actual parameter to a subprogram:

  • By reference

    The compiler passes the subprogram a pointer to the actual parameter. The actual and formal parameters refer to the same memory location.

  • By value

    The compiler assigns the value of the actual parameter to the corresponding formal parameter. The actual and formal parameters refer to different memory locations.

    If necessary, the compiler implicitly converts the data type of the actual parameter to the data type of the formal parameter. For information about implicit data conversion, see Oracle Database SQL Language Reference.

    Tip:

    Avoid implicit data conversion (for the reasons in Oracle Database SQL Language Reference), in either of these ways:
    • Declare the variables that you intend to use as actual parameters with the same data types as their corresponding formal parameters (as in the declaration of variable x in Example 8-13).

    • Explicitly convert actual parameters to the data types of their corresponding formal parameters, using the SQL conversion functions described in Oracle Database SQL Language Reference (as in the third invocation of the procedure in Example 8-13).

In Example 8-13, the procedure p has one parameter, n, which is passed by value. The anonymous block invokes p three times, avoiding implicit conversion twice.

Example 8-13 Avoiding Implicit Conversion of Actual Parameters

CREATE OR REPLACE PROCEDURE p (
  n NUMBER
) AUTHID DEFINER IS
BEGIN
  NULL;
END;
/
DECLARE
  x NUMBER      :=  1;
  y VARCHAR2(1) := '1';
BEGIN
  p(x);             -- No conversion needed
  p(y);             -- z implicitly converted from VARCHAR2 to NUMBER
  p(TO_NUMBER(y));  -- z explicitly converted from VARCHAR2 to NUMBER
END;
/

The method by which the compiler passes a specific actual parameter depends on its mode, as explained in "Subprogram Parameter Modes".

Subprogram Parameter Modes

The mode of a formal parameter determines its behavior.

Table 8-1 summarizes and compares the characteristics of the subprogram parameter modes.

Table 8-1 PL/SQL Subprogram Parameter Modes

IN OUT IN OUT

Default mode

Must be specified.

Must be specified.

Passes a value to the subprogram.

Returns a value to the invoker.

Passes an initial value to the subprogram and returns an updated value to the invoker.

Formal parameter acts like a constant: When the subprogram begins, its value is that of either its actual parameter or default value, and the subprogram cannot change this value.

Formal parameter is initialized to the default value of its type. The default value of the type is NULL except for a record type with a non-NULL default value (see Example 8-16).

When the subprogram begins, the formal parameter has its initial value regardless of the value of its actual parameter. Oracle recommends that the subprogram assign a value to the formal parameter.

Formal parameter acts like an initialized variable: When the subprogram begins, its value is that of its actual parameter. Oracle recommends that the subprogram update its value.

Actual parameter can be a constant, initialized variable, literal, or expression.

If the default value of the formal parameter type is NULL, then the actual parameter must be a variable whose data type is not defined as NOT NULL.

Actual parameter must be a variable (typically, it is a string buffer or numeric accumulator).

Actual parameter is passed by reference.

By default, actual parameter is passed by value; if you specify NOCOPY, it might be passed by reference.

By default, actual parameter is passed by value (in both directions); if you specify NOCOPY, it might be passed by reference.


Tip:

Do not use OUT and IN OUT for function parameters. Ideally, a function takes zero or more parameters and returns a single value. A function with IN OUT parameters returns multiple values and has side effects.

Note:

The specifications of many packages and types that Oracle Database supplies declare formal parameters with this notation:
i1 IN VARCHAR2 CHARACTER SET ANY_CS
i2 IN VARCHAR2 CHARACTER SET i1%CHARSET

Do not use this notation when declaring your own formal or actual parameters. It is reserved for Oracle implementation of the supplied packages types.

Regardless of how an OUT or IN OUT parameter is passed:

  • If the subprogram exits successfully, then the value of the actual parameter is the final value assigned to the formal parameter. (The formal parameter is assigned at least one value—the initial value.)

  • If the subprogram ends with an exception, then the value of the actual parameter is undefined.

  • Formal OUT and IN OUT parameters can be returned in any order. In this example, the final values of x and y are undefined:

    CREATE OR REPLACE PROCEDURE p (x OUT INTEGER, y OUT INTEGER) AS
    BEGIN
      x := 17; y := 93;
    END;
    /
    

When an OUT or IN OUT parameter is passed by reference, the actual and formal parameters refer to the same memory location. Therefore, if the subprogram changes the value of the formal parameter, the change shows immediately in the actual parameter (see "Subprogram Parameter Aliasing with Parameters Passed by Reference").

In Example 8-14, the procedure p has two IN parameters, one OUT parameter, and one IN OUT parameter. The OUT and IN OUT parameters are passed by value (the default). The anonymous block invokes p twice, with different actual parameters. Before each invocation, the anonymous block prints the values of the actual parameters. The procedure p prints the initial values of its formal parameters. After each invocation, the anonymous block prints the values of the actual parameters again.

Example 8-14 Parameter Values Before, During, and After Procedure Invocation

CREATE OR REPLACE PROCEDURE p (
  a        PLS_INTEGER,  -- IN by default
  b     IN PLS_INTEGER,
  c    OUT PLS_INTEGER,
  d IN OUT BINARY_FLOAT
) AUTHID DEFINER IS
BEGIN
  -- Print values of parameters:
 
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('Inside procedure p:');
 
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT('IN a = ');
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE(NVL(TO_CHAR(a), 'NULL'));
 
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT('IN b = ');
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE(NVL(TO_CHAR(b), 'NULL'));
 
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT('OUT c = ');
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE(NVL(TO_CHAR(c), 'NULL'));
 
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('IN OUT d = ' || TO_CHAR(d));
 
  -- Can reference IN parameters a and b,
  -- but cannot assign values to them.
 
  c := a+10;  -- Assign value to OUT parameter
  d := 10/b;  -- Assign value to IN OUT parameter
END;
/
DECLARE
  aa  CONSTANT PLS_INTEGER := 1;
  bb  PLS_INTEGER  := 2;
  cc  PLS_INTEGER  := 3;
  dd  BINARY_FLOAT := 4;
  ee  PLS_INTEGER;
  ff  BINARY_FLOAT := 5;
BEGIN
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('Before invoking procedure p:');
 
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT('aa = ');
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE(NVL(TO_CHAR(aa), 'NULL'));
 
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT('bb = ');
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE(NVL(TO_CHAR(bb), 'NULL'));
 
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT('cc = ');
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE(NVL(TO_CHAR(cc), 'NULL'));
 
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('dd = ' || TO_CHAR(dd));
 
  p (aa, -- constant
     bb, -- initialized variable
     cc, -- initialized variable 
     dd  -- initialized variable
  );
 
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('After invoking procedure p:');
 
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT('aa = ');
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE(NVL(TO_CHAR(aa), 'NULL'));
 
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT('bb = ');
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE(NVL(TO_CHAR(bb), 'NULL'));
 
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT('cc = ');
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE(NVL(TO_CHAR(cc), 'NULL'));
 
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('dd = ' || TO_CHAR(dd));
 
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('Before invoking procedure p:');
 
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT('ee = ');
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE(NVL(TO_CHAR(ee), 'NULL'));
 
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('ff = ' || TO_CHAR(ff));
 
  p (1,        -- literal 
     (bb+3)*4, -- expression 
     ee,       -- uninitialized variable 
     ff        -- initialized variable
   );
 
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('After invoking procedure p:');
 
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT('ee = ');
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE(NVL(TO_CHAR(ee), 'NULL'));
 
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('ff = ' || TO_CHAR(ff));
END;
/

Result:

Before invoking procedure p:
aa = 1
bb = 2
cc = 3
dd = 4.0E+000
Inside procedure p:
IN a = 1
IN b = 2
OUT c = NULL
IN OUT d = 4.0E+000
After invoking procedure p:
aa = 1
bb = 2
cc = 11
dd = 5.0E+000
Before invoking procedure p:
ee = NULL
ff = 5.0E+000
Inside procedure p:
IN a = 1
IN b = 20
OUT c = NULL
IN OUT d = 5.0E+000
After invoking procedure p:
ee = 11
ff = 5.0E-001
 
PL/SQL procedure successfully completed.

In Example 8-15, the anonymous block invokes procedure p (from Example 8-14) with an actual parameter that causes p to raise the predefined exception ZERO_DIVIDE, which p does not handle. The exception propagates to the anonymous block, which handles ZERO_DIVIDE and shows that the actual parameters for the IN and IN OUT parameters of p have retained the values that they had before the invocation. (Exception propagation is explained in "Exception Propagation".)

Example 8-15 OUT and IN OUT Parameter Values After Unhandled Exception

DECLARE
  j  PLS_INTEGER  := 10;
  k  BINARY_FLOAT := 15;
BEGIN
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('Before invoking procedure p:');
 
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT('j = ');
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE(NVL(TO_CHAR(j), 'NULL'));
 
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('k = ' || TO_CHAR(k));
 
  p(4, 0, j, k);  -- causes p to exit with exception ZERO_DIVIDE
 
EXCEPTION
  WHEN ZERO_DIVIDE THEN
    DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('After invoking procedure p:');
 
    DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT('j = ');
    DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE(NVL(TO_CHAR(j), 'NULL'));
 
    DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('k = ' || TO_CHAR(k));
END;
/

Result:

Before invoking procedure p:
j = 10
k = 1.5E+001
Inside procedure p:
IN a = 4
IN b = 0
OUT c = NULL
IN OUT d = 1.5E+001
After invoking procedure p:
j = 10
k = 1.5E+001
 
PL/SQL procedure successfully completed.

In Example 8-16, the procedure p has three OUT formal parameters: x, of a record type with a non-NULL default value; y, of a record type with no non-NULL default value; and z, which is not a record.

The corresponding actual parameters for x, y, and z are r1, r2, and s, respectively. s is declared with an initial value. However, when p is invoked, the value of s is initialized to NULL. The values of r1 and r2 are initialized to the default values of their record types, 'abcde' and NULL, respectively.

Example 8-16 OUT Formal Parameter of Record Type with Non-NULL Default Value

CREATE OR REPLACE PACKAGE r_types AUTHID DEFINER IS
  TYPE r_type_1 IS RECORD (f VARCHAR2(5) := 'abcde');
  TYPE r_type_2 IS RECORD (f VARCHAR2(5));
END;
/
 
CREATE OR REPLACE PROCEDURE p (
  x OUT r_types.r_type_1,
  y OUT r_types.r_type_2,
  z OUT VARCHAR2) 
AUTHID CURRENT_USER IS
BEGIN
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('x.f is ' || NVL(x.f,'NULL'));
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('y.f is ' || NVL(y.f,'NULL'));
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('z is ' || NVL(z,'NULL'));
END;
/
DECLARE
  r1 r_types.r_type_1;
  r2 r_types.r_type_2;
  s  VARCHAR2(5) := 'fghij';
BEGIN
  p (r1, r2, s);
END;
/

Result:

x.f is abcde
y.f is NULL
z is NULL
 
PL/SQL procedure successfully completed.

Subprogram Parameter Aliasing

Aliasing is having two different names for the same memory location. If a stored item is visible by more than one path, and you can change the item by one path, then you can see the change by all paths.

Subprogram parameter aliasing always occurs when the compiler passes an actual parameter by reference, and can also occur when a subprogram has cursor variable parameters.

Topics

Subprogram Parameter Aliasing with Parameters Passed by Reference

When the compiler passes an actual parameter by reference, the actual and formal parameters refer to the same memory location. Therefore, if the subprogram changes the value of the formal parameter, the change shows immediately in the actual parameter.

The compiler always passes IN parameters by reference, but the resulting aliasing cannot cause problems, because subprograms cannot assign values to IN parameters.

The compiler might pass an OUT or IN OUT parameter by reference, if you specify NOCOPY for that parameter. NOCOPY is only a hint—each time the subprogram is invoked, the compiler decides, silently, whether to obey or ignore NOCOPY. Therefore, aliasing can occur for one invocation but not another, making subprogram results indeterminate. For example:

  • If the actual parameter is a global variable, then an assignment to the formal parameter might show in the global parameter (see Example 8-17).

  • If the same variable is the actual parameter for two formal parameters, then an assignment to either formal parameter might show immediately in both formal parameters (see Example 8-18).

  • If the actual parameter is a package variable, then an assignment to either the formal parameter or the package variable might show immediately in both the formal parameter and the package variable.

  • If the subprogram is exited with an unhandled exception, then an assignment to the formal parameter might show in the actual parameter.

See Also:

"NOCOPY" for the cases in which the compiler always ignores NOCOPY

In Example 8-17, the procedure has an IN OUT NOCOPY formal parameter, to which it assigns the value 'aardvark'. The anonymous block assigns the value 'aardwolf' to a global variable and then passes the global variable to the procedure. If the compiler obeys the NOCOPY hint, then the final value of the global variable is 'aardvark'. If the compiler ignores the NOCOPY hint, then the final value of the global variable is 'aardwolf'.

Example 8-17 Aliasing from Global Variable as Actual Parameter

DECLARE
  TYPE Definition IS RECORD (
    word     VARCHAR2(20),
    meaning  VARCHAR2(200)
  );

  TYPE Dictionary IS VARRAY(2000) OF Definition;

  lexicon  Dictionary := Dictionary();  -- global variable

  PROCEDURE add_entry (
    word_list IN OUT NOCOPY Dictionary  -- formal NOCOPY parameter
  ) IS
  BEGIN
    word_list(1).word := 'aardvark';
  END;

BEGIN
  lexicon.EXTEND;
  lexicon(1).word := 'aardwolf';
  add_entry(lexicon);  -- global variable is actual parameter
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE(lexicon(1).word);
END;
/

Result:

aardvark

In Example 8-18, the procedure has an IN parameter, an IN OUT parameter, and an IN OUT NOCOPY parameter. The anonymous block invokes the procedure, using the same actual parameter, a global variable, for all three formal parameters. The procedure changes the value of the IN OUT parameter before it changes the value of the IN OUT NOCOPY parameter. However, if the compiler obeys the NOCOPY hint, then the latter change shows in the actual parameter immediately. The former change shows in the actual parameter after the procedure is exited successfully and control returns to the anonymous block.

Example 8-18 Aliasing from Same Actual Parameter for Multiple Formal Parameters

DECLARE
  n NUMBER := 10;

  PROCEDURE p (
    n1 IN NUMBER,
    n2 IN OUT NUMBER,
    n3 IN OUT NOCOPY NUMBER
  ) IS
  BEGIN
    n2 := 20;  -- actual parameter is 20 only after procedure succeeds
    DBMS_OUTPUT.put_line(n1);  -- actual parameter value is still 10
    n3 := 30;  -- might change actual parameter immediately
    DBMS_OUTPUT.put_line(n1);  -- actual parameter value is either 10 or 30
  END;

BEGIN
  p(n, n, n);
  DBMS_OUTPUT.put_line(n);
END;
/

Result if the compiler obeys the NOCOPY hint:

10
30
20

Result if the compiler ignores the NOCOPY hint:

10
10
30

Subprogram Parameter Aliasing with Cursor Variable Parameters

Cursor variable parameters are pointers. Therefore, if a subprogram assigns one cursor variable parameter to another, they refer to the same memory location. This aliasing can have unintended results.

In Example 8-19, the procedure has two cursor variable parameters, emp_cv1 and emp_cv2. The procedure opens emp_cv1 and assigns its value (which is a pointer) to emp_cv2. Now emp_cv1 and emp_cv2 refer to the same memory location. When the procedure closes emp_cv1, it also closes emp_cv2. Therefore, when the procedure tries to fetch from emp_cv2, PL/SQL raises an exception.

Example 8-19 Aliasing from Cursor Variable Subprogram Parameters

DECLARE
  TYPE EmpCurTyp IS REF CURSOR;
  c1 EmpCurTyp;
  c2 EmpCurTyp;

  PROCEDURE get_emp_data (
    emp_cv1 IN OUT EmpCurTyp,
    emp_cv2 IN OUT EmpCurTyp
  )
  IS
    emp_rec employees%ROWTYPE;
  BEGIN
    OPEN emp_cv1 FOR SELECT * FROM employees;
    emp_cv2 := emp_cv1;  -- now both variables refer to same location
    FETCH emp_cv1 INTO emp_rec;  -- fetches first row of employees
    FETCH emp_cv1 INTO emp_rec;  -- fetches second row of employees
    FETCH emp_cv2 INTO emp_rec;  -- fetches third row of employees
    CLOSE emp_cv1;  -- closes both variables
    FETCH emp_cv2 INTO emp_rec; -- causes error when get_emp_data is invoked
  END;
BEGIN
  get_emp_data(c1, c2);
END;
/

Result:

DECLARE
*
ERROR at line 1:
ORA-01001: invalid cursor
ORA-06512: at line 19
ORA-06512: at line 22

Default Values for IN Subprogram Parameters

When you declare a formal IN parameter, you can specify a default value for it. A formal parameter with a default value is called an optional parameter, because its corresponding actual parameter is optional in a subprogram invocation. If the actual parameter is omitted, then the invocation assigns the default value to the formal parameter. A formal parameter with no default value is called a required parameter, because its corresponding actual parameter is required in a subprogram invocation.

Omitting an actual parameter does not make the value of the corresponding formal parameter NULL. To make the value of a formal parameter NULL, specify NULL as either the default value or the actual parameter.

In Example 8-20, the procedure has one required parameter and two optional parameters.

Example 8-20 Procedure with Default Parameter Values

DECLARE
  PROCEDURE raise_salary (
    emp_id IN employees.employee_id%TYPE,
    amount IN employees.salary%TYPE := 100,
    extra  IN employees.salary%TYPE := 50
  ) IS
  BEGIN
    UPDATE employees
    SET salary = salary + amount + extra
    WHERE employee_id = emp_id;
  END raise_salary;
 
BEGIN
  raise_salary(120);       -- same as raise_salary(120, 100, 50)
  raise_salary(121, 200);  -- same as raise_salary(121, 200, 50)
END;
/

In Example 8-20, the procedure invocations specify the actual parameters in the same order as their corresponding formal parameters are declared—that is, the invocations use positional notation. Positional notation does not let you omit the second parameter of raise_salary but specify the third; to do that, you must use either named or mixed notation. For more information, see "Positional, Named, and Mixed Notation for Actual Parameters".

The default value of a formal parameter can be any expression whose value can be assigned to the parameter; that is, the value and parameter must have compatible data types. If a subprogram invocation specifies an actual parameter for the formal parameter, then that invocation does not evaluate the default value.

In Example 8-21, the procedure p has a parameter whose default value is an invocation of the function f. The function f increments the value of a global variable. When p is invoked without an actual parameter, p invokes f, and f increments the global variable. When p is invoked with an actual parameter, p does not invoke f, and value of the global variable does not change.

Example 8-21 Function Provides Default Parameter Value

DECLARE
  global PLS_INTEGER := 0;
 
  FUNCTION f RETURN PLS_INTEGER IS
  BEGIN
    DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('Inside f.');
    global := global + 1;
    RETURN global * 2;
  END f;
 
  PROCEDURE p (
    x IN PLS_INTEGER := f()
  ) IS
  BEGIN  
    DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE (
      'Inside p. ' || 
      '  global = ' || global ||
      ', x = ' || x || '.'
    );
    DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('--------------------------------');
  END p;
 
  PROCEDURE pre_p IS
  BEGIN
    DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE (
     'Before invoking p,  global = ' || global || '.'
    );
    DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('Invoking p.');
  END pre_p;
 
BEGIN
  pre_p;
  p();     -- default expression is evaluated
 
  pre_p;
  p(100);  -- default expression is not evaluated
 
  pre_p;
  p();     -- default expression is evaluated
END;
/

Result:

Before invoking p,  global = 0.
Invoking p.
Inside f.
Inside p.   global = 1, x = 2.
--------------------------------
Before invoking p,  global = 1.
Invoking p.
Inside p.   global = 1, x = 100.
--------------------------------
Before invoking p,  global = 1.
Invoking p.
Inside f.
Inside p.   global = 2, x = 4.
--------------------------------

Example 8-22 creates a procedure with two required parameters, invokes it, and then adds a third, optional parameter. Because the third parameter is optional, the original invocation remains valid.

Example 8-22 Adding Subprogram Parameter Without Changing Existing Invocations

Create procedure:

CREATE OR REPLACE PROCEDURE print_name (
  first VARCHAR2,
  last VARCHAR2
) AUTHID DEFINER IS
BEGIN
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE(first || ' ' || last);
END print_name;
/

Invoke procedure:

BEGIN
  print_name('John', 'Doe');
END;
/

Result:

John Doe

Add third parameter with default value:

CREATE OR REPLACE PROCEDURE print_name (
  first VARCHAR2,
  last VARCHAR2,
  mi   VARCHAR2 := NULL
) AUTHID DEFINER IS
BEGIN
  IF mi IS NULL THEN
    DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE(first || ' ' || last);
  ELSE
    DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE(first || ' ' || mi || '. ' || last);
  END IF;
END print_name;
/

Invoke procedure:

BEGIN
  print_name('John', 'Doe');          -- original invocation
  print_name('John', 'Public', 'Q');  -- new invocation
END;
/

Result:

John Doe
John Q. Public

Positional, Named, and Mixed Notation for Actual Parameters

When invoking a subprogram, you can specify the actual parameters using either positional, named, or mixed notation. Table 8-2 summarizes and compares these notations.

Table 8-2 PL/SQL Actual Parameter Notations

Positional Named Mixed

Specify the actual parameters in the same order as the formal parameters are declared.

Specify the actual parameters in any order, using this syntax:

formal => actual

formal is the name of the formal parameter and actual is the actual parameter.

Start with positional notation, then use named notation for the remaining parameters.

You can omit trailing optional parameters.

You can omit any optional parameters.

In the positional notation, you can omit trailing optional parameters; in the named notation, you can omit any optional parameters.

Specifying actual parameters in the wrong order can cause problems that are hard to detect, especially if the actual parameters are literals.

There is no wrong order for specifying actual parameters.

In the positional notation, the wrong order can cause problems that are hard to detect, especially if the actual parameters are literals.

Subprogram invocations must change if the formal parameter list changes, unless the list only acquires new trailing optional parameters (as in Example 8-22).

Subprogram invocations must change only if the formal parameter list acquires new required parameters.

Changes to the formal parameter list might require changes in the positional notation.

 

Recommended when you invoke a subprogram defined or maintained by someone else.

Convenient when you invoke a subprogram that has required parameters followed by optional parameters, and you must specify only a few of the optional parameters.


In Example 8-23, the procedure invocations use different notations, but are equivalent.

Example 8-23 Equivalent Invocations with Different Notations in Anonymous Block

DECLARE
  emp_num NUMBER(6) := 120;
  bonus   NUMBER(6) := 50;

  PROCEDURE raise_salary (
    emp_id NUMBER,
    amount NUMBER
  ) IS
  BEGIN
    UPDATE employees
    SET salary = salary + amount
    WHERE employee_id = emp_id;
  END raise_salary;

BEGIN
  -- Equivalent invocations:

  raise_salary(emp_num, bonus);                      -- positional notation
  raise_salary(amount => bonus, emp_id => emp_num);  -- named notation
  raise_salary(emp_id => emp_num, amount => bonus);  -- named notation
  raise_salary(emp_num, amount => bonus);            -- mixed notation
END;
/

In Example 8-24, the SQL SELECT statements invoke the PL/SQL function compute_bonus, using equivalent invocations with different notations.

Example 8-24 Equivalent Invocations with Different Notations in SELECT Statements

CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION compute_bonus (
  emp_id NUMBER,
  bonus NUMBER
) RETURN NUMBER
  AUTHID DEFINER
IS
  emp_sal NUMBER;
BEGIN
  SELECT salary INTO emp_sal
  FROM employees
  WHERE employee_id = emp_id;

  RETURN emp_sal + bonus;
END compute_bonus;
/
SELECT compute_bonus(120, 50) FROM DUAL;                   -- positional
SELECT compute_bonus(bonus => 50, emp_id => 120) FROM DUAL; -- named
SELECT compute_bonus(120, bonus => 50) FROM DUAL;           -- mixed

Subprogram Invocation Resolution

When the PL/SQL compiler encounters a subprogram invocation, it searches for a matching subprogram declaration—first in the current scope and then, if necessary, in successive enclosing scopes.

A declaration and invocation match if their subprogram names and parameter lists match. The parameter lists match if each required formal parameter in the declaration has a corresponding actual parameter in the invocation.

If the compiler finds no matching declaration for an invocation, then it generates a semantic error.

Figure 8-1 shows how the PL/SQL compiler resolves a subprogram invocation.

Figure 8-1 How PL/SQL Compiler Resolves Invocations

Description of Figure 8-1 follows
Description of "Figure 8-1 How PL/SQL Compiler Resolves Invocations"

In Example 8-25, the function balance tries to invoke the enclosing procedure swap, using appropriate actual parameters. However, balance contains two nested procedures named swap, and neither has parameters of the same type as the enclosing procedure swap. Therefore, the invocation causes compilation error PLS-00306.

Example 8-25 Resolving PL/SQL Procedure Names

DECLARE
  PROCEDURE swap (
    n1 NUMBER,
    n2 NUMBER
  )
  IS
    num1 NUMBER;
    num2 NUMBER;

    FUNCTION balance
      (bal NUMBER)
      RETURN NUMBER
    IS
      x NUMBER := 10;

      PROCEDURE swap (
        d1 DATE,
        d2 DATE
      ) IS
      BEGIN
        NULL;
      END;

      PROCEDURE swap (
        b1 BOOLEAN,
        b2 BOOLEAN
      ) IS
      BEGIN
        NULL;
      END;

    BEGIN  -- balance
      swap(num1, num2);
      RETURN x;
    END balance;

  BEGIN  -- enclosing procedure swap
    NULL;
  END swap;

BEGIN  -- anonymous block
  NULL;
END;   -- anonymous block
/

Result:

      swap(num1, num2);
      *
ERROR at line 33:
ORA-06550: line 33, column 7:
PLS-00306: wrong number or types of arguments in call to 'SWAP'
ORA-06550: line 33, column 7:
PL/SQL: Statement ignored

Overloaded Subprograms

PL/SQL lets you overload nested subprograms, package subprograms, and type methods. You can use the same name for several different subprograms if their formal parameters differ in name, number, order, or data type family. (A data type family is a data type and its subtypes. For the data type families of predefined PL/SQL data types, see Appendix E, "PL/SQL Predefined Data Types". For information about user-defined PL/SQL subtypes, see "User-Defined PL/SQL Subtypes".) If formal parameters differ only in name, then you must use named notation to specify the corresponding actual parameters. (For information about named notation, see "Positional, Named, and Mixed Notation for Actual Parameters".)

Example 8-26 defines two subprograms with the same name, initialize. The procedures initialize different types of collections. Because the processing in the procedures is the same, it is logical to give them the same name.

You can put the two initialize procedures in the same block, subprogram, package, or type body. PL/SQL determines which procedure to invoke by checking their formal parameters. The version of initialize that PL/SQL uses depends on whether you invoke the procedure with a date_tab_typ or num_tab_typ parameter.

Example 8-26 Overloaded Subprogram

DECLARE
  TYPE date_tab_typ IS TABLE OF DATE   INDEX BY PLS_INTEGER;
  TYPE num_tab_typ  IS TABLE OF NUMBER INDEX BY PLS_INTEGER;

  hiredate_tab  date_tab_typ;
  sal_tab       num_tab_typ;

  PROCEDURE initialize (tab OUT date_tab_typ, n INTEGER) IS
  BEGIN
    DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('Invoked first version');
    FOR i IN 1..n LOOP
      tab(i) := SYSDATE;
    END LOOP;
  END initialize;

  PROCEDURE initialize (tab OUT num_tab_typ, n INTEGER) IS
  BEGIN
    DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('Invoked second version');
    FOR i IN 1..n LOOP
      tab(i) := 0.0;
    END LOOP;
  END initialize;

BEGIN
  initialize(hiredate_tab, 50);
  initialize(sal_tab, 100);
END;
/

Result:

Invoked first version
Invoked second version

For an example of an overloaded procedure in a package, see Example 10-9.

Topics

Formal Parameters that Differ Only in Numeric Data Type

You can overload subprograms if their formal parameters differ only in numeric data type. This technique is useful in writing mathematical application programming interfaces (APIs), because several versions of a function can use the same name, and each can accept a different numeric type. For example, a function that accepts BINARY_FLOAT might be faster, while a function that accepts BINARY_DOUBLE might be more precise.

To avoid problems or unexpected results when passing parameters to such overloaded subprograms:

  • Ensure that the expected version of a subprogram is invoked for each set of expected parameters.

    For example, if you have overloaded functions that accept BINARY_FLOAT and BINARY_DOUBLE, which is invoked if you pass a VARCHAR2 literal like '5.0'?

  • Qualify numeric literals and use conversion functions to make clear what the intended parameter types are.

    For example, use literals such as 5.0f (for BINARY_FLOAT), 5.0d (for BINARY_DOUBLE), or conversion functions such as TO_BINARY_FLOAT, TO_BINARY_DOUBLE, and TO_NUMBER.

PL/SQL looks for matching numeric parameters in this order:

  1. PLS_INTEGER (or BINARY_INTEGER, an identical data type)

  2. NUMBER

  3. BINARY_FLOAT

  4. BINARY_DOUBLE

A VARCHAR2 value can match a NUMBER, BINARY_FLOAT, or BINARY_DOUBLE parameter.

PL/SQL uses the first overloaded subprogram that matches the supplied parameters. For example, the SQRT function takes a single parameter. There are overloaded versions that accept a NUMBER, a BINARY_FLOAT, or a BINARY_DOUBLE parameter. If you pass a PLS_INTEGER parameter, the first matching overload is the one with a NUMBER parameter.

The SQRT function that takes a NUMBER parameter is likely to be slowest. To use a faster version, use the TO_BINARY_FLOAT or TO_BINARY_DOUBLE function to convert the parameter to another data type before passing it to the SQRT function.

If PL/SQL must convert a parameter to another data type, it first tries to convert it to a higher data type. For example:

  • The ATAN2 function takes two parameters of the same type. If you pass parameters of different types—for example, one PLS_INTEGER and one BINARY_FLOAT—PL/SQL tries to find a match where both parameters use the higher type. In this case, that is the version of ATAN2 that takes two BINARY_FLOAT parameters; the PLS_INTEGER parameter is converted upwards.

  • A function takes two parameters of different types. One overloaded version takes a PLS_INTEGER and a BINARY_FLOAT parameter. Another overloaded version takes a NUMBER and a BINARY_DOUBLE parameter. If you invoke this function and pass two NUMBER parameters, PL/SQL first finds the overloaded version where the second parameter is BINARY_FLOAT. Because this parameter is a closer match than the BINARY_DOUBLE parameter in the other overload, PL/SQL then looks downward and converts the first NUMBER parameter to PLS_INTEGER.

Subprograms that You Cannot Overload

You cannot overload these subprograms:

  • Standalone subprograms

  • Subprograms whose formal parameters differ only in mode; for example:

    PROCEDURE s (p IN  VARCHAR2) IS ...
    PROCEDURE s (p OUT VARCHAR2) IS ...
    
  • Subprograms whose formal parameters differ only in subtype; for example:

    PROCEDURE s (p INTEGER) IS ...
    PROCEDURE s (p REAL) IS ...
    

    INTEGER and REAL are subtypes of NUMBER, so they belong to the same data type family.

  • Functions that differ only in return value data type, even if the data types are in different families; for example:

    FUNCTION f (p INTEGER) RETURN BOOLEAN IS ...
    FUNCTION f (p INTEGER) RETURN INTEGER IS ...
    

Subprogram Overload Errors

The PL/SQL compiler catches overload errors as soon as it determines that it cannot tell which subprogram was invoked. When subprograms have identical headings, the compiler catches the overload error when you try to compile the subprograms themselves (if they are nested) or when you try to compile the package specification that declares them. Otherwise, the compiler catches the error when you try to compile an ambiguous invocation of a subprogram.

When you try to compile the package specification in Example 8-27, which declares subprograms with identical headings, you get compile-time error PLS-00305.

Example 8-27 Overload Error Causes Compile-Time Error

CREATE OR REPLACE PACKAGE pkg1 AUTHID DEFINER IS
  PROCEDURE s (p VARCHAR2);
  PROCEDURE s (p VARCHAR2);
END pkg1;
/

Although the package specification in Example 8-28 violates the rule that you cannot overload subprograms whose formal parameters differ only in subtype, you can compile it without error.

Example 8-28 Overload Error Compiles Successfully

CREATE OR REPLACE PACKAGE pkg2 AUTHID DEFINER IS
  SUBTYPE t1 IS VARCHAR2(10);
  SUBTYPE t2 IS VARCHAR2(10);
  PROCEDURE s (p t1);
  PROCEDURE s (p t2);
END pkg2;
/

However, when you try to compile an invocation of pkg2.s, as in Example 8-29, you get compile-time error PLS-00307.

Example 8-29 Invoking Subprogram in Example 8-28 Causes Compile-Time Error

CREATE OR REPLACE PROCEDURE p AUTHID DEFINER IS
  a pkg2.t1 := 'a';
BEGIN
  pkg2.s(a);  -- Causes compile-time error PLS-00307
END p;
/

Suppose that you correct the overload error in Example 8-28 by giving the formal parameters of the overloaded subprograms different names, as in Example 8-30.

Example 8-30 Correcting Overload Error in Example 8-28

CREATE OR REPLACE PACKAGE pkg2 AUTHID DEFINER IS
  SUBTYPE t1 IS VARCHAR2(10);
  SUBTYPE t2 IS VARCHAR2(10);
  PROCEDURE s (p1 t1);
  PROCEDURE s (p2 t2);
END pkg2;
/

Now you can compile an invocation of pkg2.s without error if you specify the actual parameter with named notation, as in Example 8-31. (If you specify the actual parameter with positional notation, as in Example 8-29, you still get compile-time error PLS-00307.)

Example 8-31 Invoking Subprogram in Example 8-30

CREATE OR REPLACE PROCEDURE p AUTHID DEFINER IS
  a pkg2.t1 := 'a';
BEGIN
  pkg2.s(p1=>a);  -- Compiles without error
END p;
/

The package specification in Example 8-32 violates no overload rules and compiles without error. However, you can still get compile-time error PLS-00307 when invoking its overloaded procedure, as in the second invocation in Example 8-33.

Example 8-32 Package Specification Without Overload Errors

CREATE OR REPLACE PACKAGE pkg3 AUTHID DEFINER IS
  PROCEDURE s (p1 VARCHAR2);
  PROCEDURE s (p1 VARCHAR2, p2 VARCHAR2 := 'p2');
END pkg3;
/

Example 8-33 Improper Invocation of Properly Overloaded Subprogram

CREATE OR REPLACE PROCEDURE p AUTHID DEFINER IS
  a1 VARCHAR2(10) := 'a1';
  a2 VARCHAR2(10) := 'a2';
BEGIN
  pkg3.s(p1=>a1, p2=>a2);  -- Compiles without error
  pkg3.s(p1=>a1);          -- Causes compile-time error PLS-00307
END p;
/

When trying to determine which subprogram was invoked, if the PL/SQL compiler implicitly converts one parameter to a matching type, then the compiler looks for other parameters that it can implicitly convert to matching types. If there is more than one match, then compile-time error PLS-00307 occurs, as in Example 8-34.

Example 8-34 Implicit Conversion of Parameters Causes Overload Error

CREATE OR REPLACE PACKAGE pack1 AUTHID DEFINER AS
  PROCEDURE proc1 (a NUMBER, b VARCHAR2);
  PROCEDURE proc1 (a NUMBER, b NUMBER);
END;
/
CREATE OR REPLACE PACKAGE BODY pack1 AS
  PROCEDURE proc1 (a NUMBER, b VARCHAR2) IS BEGIN NULL; END;
  PROCEDURE proc1 (a NUMBER, b NUMBER) IS BEGIN NULL; END;
END;
/
BEGIN
  pack1.proc1(1,'2');    -- Compiles without error
  pack1.proc1(1,2);      -- Compiles without error
  pack1.proc1('1','2');  -- Causes compile-time error PLS-00307
  pack1.proc1('1',2);    -- Causes compile-time error PLS-00307
END;
/

Recursive Subprograms

A recursive subprogram invokes itself. Recursion is a powerful technique for simplifying an algorithm.

A recursive subprogram must have at least two execution paths—one leading to the recursive invocation and one leading to a terminating condition. Without the latter, recursion continues until PL/SQL runs out of memory and raises the predefined exception STORAGE_ERROR.

In Example 8-35, the function implements the following recursive definition of n factorial (n!), the product of all integers from 1 to n:

n! = n * (n - 1)!

Example 8-35 Recursive Function Returns n Factorial (n!)

CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION factorial (
  n POSITIVE
) RETURN POSITIVE
  AUTHID DEFINER
IS
BEGIN
  IF n = 1 THEN                 -- terminating condition
    RETURN n;
  ELSE
    RETURN n * factorial(n-1);  -- recursive invocation
  END IF;
END;
/
BEGIN
  FOR i IN 1..5 LOOP
    DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE(i || '! = ' || factorial(i));
  END LOOP;
END;
/

Result:

1! = 1
2! = 2
3! = 6
4! = 24
5! = 120

In Example 8-36, the function returns the nth Fibonacci number, which is the sum of the n-1st and n-2nd Fibonacci numbers. The first and second Fibonacci numbers are zero and one, respectively.

Example 8-36 Recursive Function Returns nth Fibonacci Number

CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION fibonacci (
  n PLS_INTEGER
) RETURN PLS_INTEGER
  AUTHID DEFINER
IS
  fib_1 PLS_INTEGER := 0;
  fib_2 PLS_INTEGER := 1;
BEGIN
  IF n = 1 THEN                              -- terminating condition
    RETURN fib_1;
  ELSIF n = 2 THEN
    RETURN fib_2;                           -- terminating condition
  ELSE
    RETURN fibonacci(n-2) + fibonacci(n-1);  -- recursive invocations
  END IF;
END;
/
BEGIN
  FOR i IN 1..10 LOOP
    DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT(fibonacci(i));
    IF i < 10 THEN
      DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT(', ');
    END IF;
  END LOOP;
 
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE(' ...');
END;
/

Result:

0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34 ...

Note:

The function in Example 8-36 is a good candidate for result caching. For more information, see "Result-Cached Recursive Function".

Each recursive invocation of a subprogram creates an instance of each item that the subprogram declares and each SQL statement that it executes.

A recursive invocation inside a cursor FOR LOOP statement, or between an OPEN or OPEN FOR statement and a CLOSE statement, opens another cursor at each invocation, which might cause the number of open cursors to exceed the limit set by the database initialization parameter OPEN_CURSORS.

Subprogram Side Effects

A subprogram has side effects if it changes anything except the values of its own local variables. For example, a subprogram that changes any of the following has side effects:

  • Its own OUT or IN OUT parameter

  • A global variable

  • A public variable in a package

  • A database table

  • The database

  • The external state (by invoking DBMS_OUTPUT or sending e-mail, for example)

Side effects can prevent the parallelization of a query, yield order-dependent (and therefore, indeterminate) results, or require that package state be maintained across user sessions.

Minimizing side effects is especially important when defining a result-cached function or a stored function for SQL statements to invoke.

See Also:

Oracle Database Development Guide for information about controlling side effects in PL/SQL functions invoked from SQL statements

PL/SQL Function Result Cache

The PL/SQL function result caching mechanism provides a language-supported and system-managed way to cache the results of PL/SQL functions in a shared global area (SGA), which is available to every session that runs your application. The caching mechanism is both efficient and easy to use, and relieves you of the burden of designing and developing your own caches and cache-management policies.

When a result-cached function is invoked, the system checks the cache. If the cache contains the result from a previous invocation of the function with the same parameter values, the system returns the cached result to the invoker and does not re-execute the function body. If the cache does not contain the result, the system runs the function body and adds the result (for these parameter values) to the cache before returning control to the invoker.

Note:

If function execution results in an unhandled exception, the exception result is not stored in the cache.

The cache can accumulate very many results—one result for every unique combination of parameter values with which each result-cached function was invoked. If the system needs more memory, it ages out (deletes) one or more cached results.

Oracle Database automatically detects all data sources (tables and views) that are queried while a result-cached function is running. If changes to any of these data sources are committed, the cached result becomes invalid and must be recomputed. The best candidates for result-caching are functions that are invoked frequently but depend on information that changes infrequently or never.

Topics

Enabling Result-Caching for a Function

To make a function result-cached, include the RESULT_CACHE clause in the function definition. (If you declare the function before defining it, you must also include the RESULT_CACHE option in the function declaration.) For syntax details, see "Function Declaration and Definition".

Note:

The database initialization parameter RESULT_CACHE_MODE does not make a PL/SQL function result-cached. However, when RESULT_CACHE_MODE=FORCE, the database stores the results of all queries in the SQL query result cache, including queries issued by PL/SQL code and queries that call nondeterministic PL/SQL functions.

For information about RESULT_CACHE_MODE, see Oracle Database Reference and Oracle Database Performance Tuning Guide.

In Example 8-37, the package department_pkg declares and then defines a result-cached function, get_dept_info, which returns a record of information about a given department. The function depends on the database tables DEPARTMENTS and EMPLOYEES.

Example 8-37 Declaring and Defining Result-Cached Function

CREATE OR REPLACE PACKAGE department_pkg AUTHID DEFINER IS
 
  TYPE dept_info_record IS RECORD (
    dept_name  departments.department_name%TYPE,
    mgr_name   employees.last_name%TYPE,
    dept_size  PLS_INTEGER
  );
 
  -- Function declaration
 
  FUNCTION get_dept_info (dept_id NUMBER)
    RETURN dept_info_record
    RESULT_CACHE;
 
END department_pkg;
/
CREATE OR REPLACE PACKAGE BODY department_pkg IS
  -- Function definition
  FUNCTION get_dept_info (dept_id NUMBER)
    RETURN dept_info_record
    RESULT_CACHE
  IS
    rec  dept_info_record;
  BEGIN
    SELECT department_name INTO rec.dept_name
    FROM departments
    WHERE department_id = dept_id;
 
    SELECT e.last_name INTO rec.mgr_name
    FROM departments d, employees e
    WHERE d.department_id = dept_id
    AND d.manager_id = e.employee_id;
 
    SELECT COUNT(*) INTO rec.dept_size
    FROM EMPLOYEES
    WHERE department_id = dept_id;
 
    RETURN rec;
  END get_dept_info;
END department_pkg;
/

You invoke the function get_dept_info as you invoke any function. For example, this invocation returns a record of information about department number 10:

department_pkg.get_dept_info(10);

This invocation returns only the name of department number 10:

department_pkg.get_dept_info(10).department_name;

If the result for get_dept_info(10) is in the result cache, the result is returned from the cache; otherwise, the result is computed and added to the cache. Because get_dept_info depends on the DEPARTMENTS and EMPLOYEES tables, any committed change to DEPARTMENTS or EMPLOYEES invalidates all cached results for get_dept_info, relieving you of programming cache invalidation logic everywhere that DEPARTMENTS or EMPLOYEES might change.

Developing Applications with Result-Cached Functions

When developing an application that uses a result-cached function, make no assumptions about the number of times the body of the function will run for a given set of parameter values.

Some situations in which the body of a result-cached function runs are:

  • The first time a session on this database instance invokes the function with these parameter values

  • When the cached result for these parameter values is invalid

    When a change to any data source on which the function depends is committed, the cached result becomes invalid.

  • When the cached results for these parameter values have aged out

    If the system needs memory, it might discard the oldest cached values.

  • When the function bypasses the cache (see "Result Cache Bypass")

Restrictions on Result-Cached Functions

To be result-cached, a function must meet all of these criteria:

  • It is not defined in an anonymous block.

  • It is not a pipelined table function.

  • It does not reference dictionary tables, temporary tables, sequences, or nondeterministic SQL functions.

    For more information, see Oracle Database Performance Tuning Guide.

  • It has no OUT or IN OUT parameters.

  • No IN parameter has one of these types:

    • BLOB

    • CLOB

    • NCLOB

    • REF CURSOR

    • Collection

    • Object

    • Record

  • The return type is none of these:

    • BLOB

    • CLOB

    • NCLOB

    • REF CURSOR

    • Object

    • Record or PL/SQL collection that contains an unsupported return type

It is recommended that a result-cached function also meet these criteria:

Examples of Result-Cached Functions

The best candidates for result-caching are functions that are invoked frequently but depend on information that changes infrequently (as might be the case in the first example). Result-caching avoids redundant computations in recursive functions.

Examples:

Result-Cached Application Configuration Parameters

Consider an application that has configuration parameters that can be set at either the global level, the application level, or the role level. The application stores the configuration information in these tables:

-- Global Configuration Settings
DROP TABLE global_config_params;
CREATE TABLE global_config_params
  (name  VARCHAR2(20), -- parameter NAME
   val   VARCHAR2(20), -- parameter VALUE
   PRIMARY KEY (name)
  );

-- Application-Level Configuration Settings
CREATE TABLE app_level_config_params
  (app_id  VARCHAR2(20), -- application ID
   name    VARCHAR2(20), -- parameter NAME
   val     VARCHAR2(20), -- parameter VALUE
   PRIMARY KEY (app_id, name)
  );

-- Role-Level Configuration Settings
CREATE TABLE role_level_config_params
  (role_id  VARCHAR2(20), -- application (role) ID
   name     VARCHAR2(20),  -- parameter NAME
   val      VARCHAR2(20),  -- parameter VALUE
   PRIMARY KEY (role_id, name)
  );

For each configuration parameter, the role-level setting overrides the application-level setting, which overrides the global setting. To determine which setting applies to a parameter, the application defines the PL/SQL function get_value. Given a parameter name, application ID, and role ID, get_value returns the setting that applies to the parameter.

The function get_value is a good candidate for result-caching if it is invoked frequently and if the configuration information changes infrequently.

Example 8-38 shows a possible definition for get_value. Suppose that for one set of parameter values, the global setting determines the result of get_value. While get_value is running, the database detects that three tables are queried—role_level_config_params, app_level_config_params, and global_config_params. If a change to any of these three tables is committed, the cached result for this set of parameter values is invalidated and must be recomputed.

Now suppose that, for a second set of parameter values, the role-level setting determines the result of get_value. While get_value is running, the database detects that only the role_level_config_params table is queried. If a change to role_level_config_params is committed, the cached result for the second set of parameter values is invalidated; however, committed changes to app_level_config_params or global_config_params do not affect the cached result.

Example 8-38 Result-Cached Function Returns Configuration Parameter Setting

CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION get_value
  (p_param VARCHAR2,
   p_app_id  NUMBER,
   p_role_id NUMBER
  )
  RETURN VARCHAR2
  RESULT_CACHE
  AUTHID DEFINER
IS
  answer VARCHAR2(20);
BEGIN
  -- Is parameter set at role level?
  BEGIN
    SELECT val INTO answer
      FROM role_level_config_params
        WHERE role_id = p_role_id
          AND name = p_param;
    RETURN answer;  -- Found
    EXCEPTION
      WHEN no_data_found THEN
        NULL;  -- Fall through to following code
  END;
  -- Is parameter set at application level?
  BEGIN
    SELECT val INTO answer
      FROM app_level_config_params
        WHERE app_id = p_app_id
          AND name = p_param;
    RETURN answer;  -- Found
    EXCEPTION
      WHEN no_data_found THEN
        NULL;  -- Fall through to following code
  END;
  -- Is parameter set at global level?
    SELECT val INTO answer
     FROM global_config_params
      WHERE name = p_param;
    RETURN answer;
END;

Result-Cached Recursive Function

A recursive function for finding the nth term of a Fibonacci series that mirrors the mathematical definition of the series might do many redundant computations. For example, to evaluate fibonacci(7), the function must compute fibonacci(6) and fibonacci(5). To compute fibonacci(6), the function must compute fibonacci(5) and fibonacci(4). Therefore, fibonacci(5) and several other terms are computed redundantly. Result-caching avoids these redundant computations.

Note:

The maximum number of recursive invocations cached is 128.
CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION fibonacci (n NUMBER)
  RETURN NUMBER
  RESULT_CACHE
  AUTHID DEFINER
IS
BEGIN
  IF (n =0) OR (n =1) THEN
    RETURN 1;
  ELSE
    RETURN fibonacci(n - 1) + fibonacci(n - 2);
  END IF;
END;
/

Advanced Result-Cached Function Topics

Topics

Rules for a Cache Hit

Each time a result-cached function is invoked with different parameter values, those parameters and their result are stored in the cache. Subsequently, when the same function is invoked with the same parameter values (that is, when there is a cache hit), the result is retrieved from the cache, instead of being recomputed.

The rules for parameter comparison for a cache hit differ from the rules for the PL/SQL "equal to" (=) operator, as follows:

Cache Hit Rules "Equal To" Operator Rules
NULL equals NULL NULL = NULL evaluates to NULL.
Non-null scalars are the same if and only if their values are identical; that is, if and only if their values have identical bit patterns on the given platform. For example, CHAR values 'AA' and 'AA ' are different. (This rule is stricter than the rule for the "equal to" operator.) Non-null scalars can be equal even if their values do not have identical bit patterns on the given platform; for example, CHAR values 'AA' and 'AA ' are equal.

Result Cache Bypass

In some situations, the cache is bypassed. When the cache is bypassed:

  • The function computes the result instead of retrieving it from the cache.

  • The result that the function computes is not added to the cache.

Some examples of situations in which the cache is bypassed are:

  • The cache is unavailable to all sessions.

    For example, the database administrator has disabled the use of the result cache during application patching (as in "Hot-Patching PL/SQL Units on Which Result-Cached Functions Depend").

  • A session is performing a DML statement on a table or view on which a result-cached function depends.

    The session bypasses the result cache for that function until the DML statement is completed—either committed or rolled back. If the statement is rolled back, the session resumes using the cache for that function.

    Cache bypass ensures that:

    • The user of each session sees his or her own uncommitted changes.

    • The PL/SQL function result cache has only committed changes that are visible to all sessions, so that uncommitted changes in one session are not visible to other sessions.

Making Result-Cached Functions Handle Session-Specific Settings

If a function depends on settings that might vary from session to session (such as NLS_DATE_FORMAT and TIME ZONE), make the function result-cached only if you can modify it to handle the various settings.

Consider this function:

Example 8-39 Result-Cached Function Handles Session-Specific Settings

CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION get_hire_date (emp_id NUMBER)
  RETURN VARCHAR
  RESULT_CACHE
  AUTHID DEFINER
IS
  date_hired DATE;
BEGIN
  SELECT hire_date INTO date_hired
    FROM HR.EMPLOYEES
      WHERE EMPLOYEE_ID = emp_id;
  RETURN TO_CHAR(date_hired);
END;
/

The preceding function, get_hire_date, uses the TO_CHAR function to convert a DATE item to a VARCHAR item. The function get_hire_date does not specify a format mask, so the format mask defaults to the one that NLS_DATE_FORMAT specifies. If sessions that invoke get_hire_date have different NLS_DATE_FORMAT settings, cached results can have different formats. If a cached result computed by one session ages out, and another session recomputes it, the format might vary even for the same parameter value. If a session gets a cached result whose format differs from its own format, that result is probably incorrect.

Some possible solutions to this problem are:

  • Change the return type of get_hire_date to DATE and have each session invoke the TO_CHAR function.

  • If a common format is acceptable to all sessions, specify a format mask, removing the dependency on NLS_DATE_FORMAT. For example:

    TO_CHAR(date_hired, 'mm/dd/yy');
    
  • Add a format mask parameter to get_hire_date. For example:

    CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION get_hire_date (emp_id NUMBER, fmt VARCHAR)
      RETURN VARCHAR
      RESULT_CACHE
      AUTHID DEFINER
    IS
      date_hired DATE;
    BEGIN
      SELECT hire_date INTO date_hired
        FROM HR.EMPLOYEES
          WHERE EMPLOYEE_ID = emp_id;
      RETURN TO_CHAR(date_hired, fmt);
    END;
    /
    

Making Result-Cached Functions Handle Session-Specific Application Contexts

An application context, which can be either global or session-specific, is a set of attributes and their values. A PL/SQL function depends on session-specific application contexts if it does one or more of the following:

  • Directly invokes the SQL function SYS_CONTEXT, which returns the value of a specified attribute in a specified context

  • Indirectly invokes SYS_CONTEXT by using Virtual Private Database (VPD) mechanisms for fine-grained security

    (For information about VPD, see Oracle Database Security Guide.)

The PL/SQL function result-caching feature does not automatically handle dependence on session-specific application contexts. If you must cache the results of a function that depends on session-specific application contexts, you must pass the application context to the function as a parameter. You can give the parameter a default value, so that not every user must specify it.

In Example 8-40, assume that a table, config_tab, has a VPD policy that translates this query:

SELECT value FROM config_tab WHERE name = param_name;

To this query:

SELECT value FROM config_tab
WHERE name = param_name
AND app_id = SYS_CONTEXT('Config', 'App_ID');

Example 8-40 Result-Cached Function Handles Session-Specific Application Context

CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION get_param_value (
  param_name VARCHAR,
  appctx     VARCHAR  DEFAULT SYS_CONTEXT('Config', 'App_ID')
) RETURN VARCHAR
  RESULT_CACHE
  AUTHID DEFINER
IS
  rec VARCHAR(2000);
BEGIN
  SELECT val INTO rec
  FROM config_tab
  WHERE name = param_name;
 
  RETURN rec;
END;
/

Choosing Result-Caching Granularity

PL/SQL provides the function result cache, but you choose the caching granularity. To understand the concept of granularity, consider the Product_Descriptions table in the Order Entry (OE) sample schema:

NAME                     NULL?      TYPE
----------------------   --------   ---------------
PRODUCT_ID               NOT NULL   NUMBER(6)
LANGUAGE_ID              NOT NULL   VARCHAR2(3)
TRANSLATED_NAME          NOT NULL   NVARCHAR2(50)
TRANSLATED_DESCRIPTION   NOT NULL   NVARCHAR2(2000)

The table has the name and description of each product in several languages. The unique key for each row is PRODUCT_ID,LANGUAGE_ID.

Suppose that you must define a function that takes a PRODUCT_ID and a LANGUAGE_ID and returns the associated TRANSLATED_NAME. You also want to cache the translated names. Some of the granularity choices for caching the names are:

  • One name at a time (finer granularity)

  • One language at a time (coarser granularity)

Table 8-3 Finer and Coarser Caching Granularity

Finer Granularity Coarser Granularity

Each function result corresponds to one logical result.

Each function result contains many logical subresults.

Stores only data that is needed at least once.

Might store data that is never used.

Each data item ages out individually.

One aged-out data item ages out the whole set.

Does not allow bulk loading optimizations.

Allows bulk loading optimizations.


In Example 8-41 and Example 8-42, the function productName takes a PRODUCT_ID and a LANGUAGE_ID and returns the associated TRANSLATED_NAME. Each version of productName caches translated names, but at a different granularity.

In Example 8-41, get_product_name_1 is a result-cached function. Whenever get_product_name_1 is invoked with a different PRODUCT_ID and LANGUAGE_ID, it caches the associated TRANSLATED_NAME. Each invocation of get_product_name_1 adds at most one TRANSLATED_NAME to the cache.

Example 8-41 Caching One Name at a Time (Finer Granularity)

CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION get_product_name_1 (
  prod_id NUMBER,
  lang_id VARCHAR2
)
  RETURN NVARCHAR2
  RESULT_CACHE
  AUTHID DEFINER
IS
  result_ VARCHAR2(50);
BEGIN
  SELECT translated_name INTO result_
  FROM OE.Product_Descriptions
  WHERE PRODUCT_ID = prod_id
  AND LANGUAGE_ID = lang_id;
  RETURN result_;
END;
/

In Example 8-42, get_product_name_2 defines a result-cached function, all_product_names. Whenever get_product_name_2 invokes all_product_names with a different LANGUAGE_ID, all_product_names caches every TRANSLATED_NAME associated with that LANGUAGE_ID. Each invocation of all_product_names adds every TRANSLATED_NAME of at most one LANGUAGE_ID to the cache.

Example 8-42 Caching Translated Names One Language at a Time (Coarser Granularity)

CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION get_product_name_2 (
  prod_id NUMBER,
  lang_id VARCHAR2
)
  RETURN NVARCHAR2
  AUTHID DEFINER
IS
  TYPE product_names IS TABLE OF NVARCHAR2(50) INDEX BY PLS_INTEGER;
 
  FUNCTION all_product_names (lang_id VARCHAR2)
    RETURN product_names
    RESULT_CACHE
  IS
    all_names product_names;
  BEGIN
    FOR c IN (SELECT * FROM OE.Product_Descriptions
              WHERE LANGUAGE_ID = lang_id) LOOP
      all_names(c.PRODUCT_ID) := c.TRANSLATED_NAME;
    END LOOP;
    RETURN all_names;
  END;
BEGIN
  RETURN all_product_names(lang_id)(prod_id);
END;
/

Result Caches in Oracle RAC Environment

Cached results are stored in the system global area (SGA). In an Oracle RAC environment, each database instance manages its own local function result cache. However, the contents of the local result cache are accessible to sessions attached to other Oracle RAC instances. If a required result is missing from the result cache of the local instance, the result might be retrieved from the local cache of another instance, instead of being locally computed.

The access pattern and work load of an instance determine the set of results in its local cache; therefore, the local caches of different instances can have different sets of results.

Although each database instance might have its own set of cached results, the mechanisms for handling invalid results are Oracle RAC environment-wide. If results were invalidated only in the local instance's result cache, other instances might use invalid results. For example, consider a result cache of item prices that are computed from data in database tables. If any of these database tables is updated in a way that affects the price of an item, the cached price of that item must be invalidated in every database instance in the Oracle RAC environment.

Result Cache Management

The PL/SQL function result cache shares its administrative and manageability infrastructure with the Result Cache. For information about the Result Cache, see Oracle Database Performance Tuning Guide.

The database administrator can use the following to manage the Result Cache:

Hot-Patching PL/SQL Units on Which Result-Cached Functions Depend

When you hot-patch a PL/SQL unit on which a result-cached function depends (directly or indirectly), the cached results associated with the result-cached function might not be automatically flushed in all cases.

For example, suppose that the result-cached function P1.foo() depends on the package subprogram P2.bar(). If a new version of the body of package P2 is loaded, the cached results associated with P1.foo() are not automatically flushed.

Therefore, this is the recommended procedure for hot-patching a PL/SQL unit:

Note:

To follow these steps, you must have the EXECUTE privilege on the package DBMS_RESULT_CACHE.
  1. Put the result cache in bypass mode and flush existing results:

    BEGIN
      DBMS_RESULT_CACHE.Bypass(TRUE);
      DBMS_RESULT_CACHE.Flush;
    END;
    /
    

    In an Oracle RAC environment, perform this step for each database instance.

  2. Patch the PL/SQL code.

  3. Resume using the result cache:

    BEGIN
      DBMS_RESULT_CACHE.Bypass(FALSE);
    END;
    /
    

    In an Oracle RAC environment, perform this step for each database instance.

PL/SQL Functions that SQL Statements Can Invoke

To be invocable from SQL statements, a stored function (and any subprograms that it invokes) must obey the following purity rules, which are meant to control side effects:

  • When invoked from a SELECT statement or a parallelized INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE, or MERGE statement, the subprogram cannot modify any database tables.

  • When invoked from an INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE, or MERGE statement, the subprogram cannot query or modify any database tables modified by that statement.

    If a function either queries or modifies a table, and a DML statement on that table invokes the function, then ORA-04091 (mutating-table error) occurs. There is one exception: ORA-04091 does not occur if a single-row INSERT statement that is not in a FORALL statement invokes the function in a VALUES clause.

  • When invoked from a SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE, or MERGE statement, the subprogram cannot execute any of the following SQL statements (unless PRAGMA AUTONOMOUS_TRANSACTION was specified):

    • Transaction control statements (such as COMMIT)

    • Session control statements (such as SET ROLE)

    • System control statements (such as ALTER SYSTEM)

    • Database definition language (DDL) statements (such as CREATE), which are committed automatically

    (For the description of PRAGMA AUTONOMOUS_TRANSACTION, see "AUTONOMOUS_TRANSACTION Pragma".)

If any SQL statement in the execution part of the function violates a rule, then a runtime error occurs when that statement is parsed.

The fewer side effects a function has, the better it can be optimized in a SELECT statement, especially if the function is declared with the option DETERMINISTIC or PARALLEL_ENABLE (for descriptions of these options, see "DETERMINISTIC" and "PARALLEL_ENABLE").

See Also:

Invoker's Rights and Definer's Rights (AUTHID Property)

The AUTHID property of a stored PL/SQL unit affects the name resolution and privilege checking of SQL statements that the unit issues at run time. The AUTHID property does not affect compilation, and has no meaning for units that have no code, such as collection types.

AUTHID property values are exposed in the static data dictionary view *_PROCEDURES. For units for which AUTHID has meaning, the view shows the value CURRENT_USER or DEFINER; for other units, the view shows NULL.

For stored PL/SQL units that you create or alter with the following statements, you can use the optional AUTHID clause to specify either DEFINER (the default, for backward compatibility) or CURRENT_USER (the preferred usage):

A unit whose AUTHID value is CURRENT_USER is called an invoker's rights unit, or IR unit. A unit whose AUTHID value is DEFINER (the default) is called a definer's rights unit, or DR unit. PL/SQL units and schema objects for which you cannot specify an AUTHID value behave like this:

PL/SQL Unit or Schema Object Behavior
Anonymous block IR unit
BEQUEATH CURRENT_USER view Somewhat like an IR unit—see Oracle Database Security Guide.
BEQUEATH DEFINER view DR unit
Trigger DR unit

The AUTHID property of a unit determines whether the unit is IR or DR, and it affects both name resolution and privilege checking at run time:

  • The context for name resolution is CURRENT_SCHEMA.

  • The privileges checked are those of the CURRENT_USER and the enabled roles.

When a session starts, CURRENT_SCHEMA has the value of the schema owned by SESSION_USER, and CURRENT_USER has the same value as SESSION_USER. (To get the current value of CURRENT_SCHEMA, CURRENT_USER, or SESSION_USER, use the SYS_CONTEXT function, documented in Oracle Database SQL Language Reference.)

CURRENT_SCHEMA can be changed during the session with the SQL statement ALTER SESSION SET CURRENT_SCHEMA. CURRENT_USER cannot be changed programmatically, but it might change when a PL/SQL unit or a view is pushed onto, or popped from, the call stack.

Note:

Oracle recommends against issuing ALTER SESSION SET CURRENT_SCHEMA from in a stored PL/SQL unit.

During a server call, when a DR unit is pushed onto the call stack, the database stores the currently enabled roles and the current values of CURRENT_USER and CURRENT_SCHEMA. It then changes both CURRENT_USER and CURRENT_SCHEMA to the owner of the DR unit, and enables only the role PUBLIC. (The stored and new roles and values are not necessarily different.) When the DR unit is popped from the call stack, the database restores the stored roles and values. In contrast, when an IR unit is pushed onto, or popped from, the call stack, the values of CURRENT_USER and CURRENT_SCHEMA, and the currently enabled roles do not change (unless roles are granted to the IR unit itself—see "Granting Roles to PL/SQL Packages and Standalone Subprograms").

For dynamic SQL statements issued by a PL/SQL unit, name resolution and privilege checking are done once, at run time. For static SQL statements, name resolution and privilege checking are done twice: first, when the PL/SQL unit is compiled, and then again at run time. At compile time, the AUTHID property has no effect—both DR and IR units are treated like DR units. At run time, however, the AUTHID property determines whether a unit is IR or DR, and the unit is treated accordingly.

Upon entry into an IR unit, the runtime system checks privileges before doing any initialization or running any code. If the unit owner has neither the INHERIT PRIVILEGES privilege on the invoker nor the INHERIT ANY PRIVILEGES privilege, then the runtime system raises error ORA-06598.

Note:

If the unit owner has the required privilege, then one of these statements granted it:
GRANT INHERIT PRIVILEGES ON current_user TO PUBLIC
GRANT INHERIT PRIVILEGES ON current_user TO unit_owner
GRANT INHERIT ANY PRIVILEGES TO unit_owner

For information about the GRANT statement, see Oracle Database SQL Language Reference.

See Also:

Oracle Database Security Guide for information about managing security for DR and IR units

Topics

Granting Roles to PL/SQL Packages and Standalone Subprograms

Using the SQL GRANT command, you can grant roles to PL/SQL packages and standalone subprograms. Roles granted to a PL/SQL unit do not affect compilation. They affect the privilege checking of SQL statements that the unit issues at run time: The unit runs with the privileges of both its own roles and any other currently enabled roles.

Typically, you grant roles to an IR unit, so that users with lower privileges than yours can run the unit with only the privileges needed to do so. You grant roles to a DR unit (whose invokers run it with all your privileges) only if the DR unit issues dynamic SQL, which is checked only at run time.

The basic syntax for granting roles to PL/SQL units is:

GRANT role [, role ]... TO unit [, unit ]...

For example, this command grants the roles read and execute to the function scott.func and the package sys.pkg:

GRANT read, execute TO FUNCTION scott.func, PACKAGE sys.pkg

For the complete syntax and semantics of the GRANT command, see Oracle Database SQL Language Reference.

See Also:

IR Units Need Template Objects

One user (that is, one schema) owns an IR unit and other users run it in their schemas. If the IR unit issues static SQL statements, then the schema objects that these statements affect must exist in the owner's schema at compile time (so that the compiler can resolve references) and in the invoker's schema at run time. The definitions of corresponding schema objects must match (for example, corresponding tables must have the same names and columns); otherwise, you get an error or unexpected results. However, the objects in the owner's schema need not contain data, because the compiler does not need it; therefore, they are called template objects.

External Subprograms

If a C procedure or Java method is stored in the database, you can publish it as an external subprogram and then invoke it from PL/SQL.

To publish an external subprogram, define a stored PL/SQL subprogram with a call specification. The call specification maps the name, parameter types, and return type of the external subprogram to PL/SQL equivalents. Invoke the published external subprogram by its PL/SQL name.

For example, suppose that this Java class, Adjuster, is stored in the database:

import java.sql.*;
import oracle.jdbc.driver.*;
public class Adjuster {
  public static void raiseSalary (int empNo, float percent)
  throws SQLException {
    Connection conn = new OracleDriver().defaultConnection();
    String sql = "UPDATE employees SET salary = salary * ?
                    WHERE employee_id = ?";
    try {
      PreparedStatement pstmt = conn.prepareStatement(sql);
      pstmt.setFloat(1, (1 + percent / 100));
      pstmt.setInt(2, empNo);
      pstmt.executeUpdate();
      pstmt.close();
    } catch (SQLException e)
          {System.err.println(e.getMessage());}
    }
}

The Java class Adjuster has one method, raiseSalary, which raises the salary of a specified employee by a specified percentage. Because raiseSalary is a void method, you publish it as a PL/SQL procedure (rather than a function).

Example 8-43 publishes the stored Java method Adjuster.raiseSalary as a PL/SQL standalone procedure, mapping the Java method name Adjuster.raiseSalary to the PL/SQL procedure name raise_salary and the Java data types int and float to the PL/SQL data type NUMBER. Then the anonymous block invokes raise_salary.

Example 8-43 PL/SQL Anonymous Block Invokes External Procedure

-- Publish Adjuster.raiseSalary as standalone PL/SQL procedure:

CREATE OR REPLACE PROCEDURE raise_salary (
  empid NUMBER,
  pct   NUMBER
) AS
  LANGUAGE JAVA NAME 'Adjuster.raiseSalary (int, float)';  -- call specification
/

BEGIN
  raise_salary(120, 10);  -- invoke Adjuster.raiseSalary by PL/SQL name
END;
/

Example 8-44 publishes the stored Java method java.lang.Thread.sleep as a PL/SQL standalone procedure, mapping the Java method name to the PL/SQL procedure name java_sleep and the Java data type long to the PL/SQL data type NUMBER. The PL/SQL standalone procedure sleep invokes java_sleep.

Example 8-44 PL/SQL Standalone Procedure Invokes External Procedure

-- Java call specification:

CREATE PROCEDURE java_sleep (
  milli_seconds IN NUMBER
) AS LANGUAGE JAVA NAME 'java.lang.Thread.sleep(long)';
/

CREATE OR REPLACE PROCEDURE sleep (
  milli_seconds IN NUMBER
) AUTHID DEFINER IS
BEGIN
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE(DBMS_UTILITY.get_time());
  java_sleep (milli_seconds);
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE(DBMS_UTILITY.get_time());
END;
/

Call specifications can appear in PL/SQL standalone subprograms, package specifications and bodies, and type specifications and bodies. They cannot appear inside PL/SQL blocks.

See Also:

Oracle Database Development Guide for more information about calling external programs