Skip Headers
Oracle® Database SQL Language Reference
11g Release 2 (11.2)

Part Number E17118-03
Go to Documentation Home
Home
Go to Book List
Book List
Go to Table of Contents
Contents
Go to Index
Index
Go to Master Index
Master Index
Go to Feedback page
Contact Us

Go to previous page
Previous
Go to next page
Next
View PDF

ROWNUM Pseudocolumn

Note:

The ROW_NUMBER built-in SQL function provides superior support for ordering the results of a query. Refer to ROW_NUMBER for more information.

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

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

SELECT *
  FROM employees
  WHERE ROWNUM < 11;

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

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

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

SELECT *
  FROM (SELECT * FROM employees ORDER BY employee_id)
  WHERE ROWNUM < 11;

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

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

SELECT *
  FROM employees
  WHERE ROWNUM > 1;

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

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

UPDATE my_table
  SET column1 = ROWNUM;

Refer to the function ROW_NUMBER for an alternative method of assigning unique numbers to rows.

Note:

Using ROWNUM in a query can affect view optimization.