Friday, 29 June 2018

Overview of SQL Statements

All operations performed on the information in an Oracle database are run using SQL statements. A SQL statement is a computer program or instruction that consists of identifiers, parameters, variables, names, data types, and SQL reserved words.

A SQL statement must be the equivalent of a complete SQL sentence, such as:

SELECT last_name, department_id FROM employees

Oracle Database only runs complete SQL statements. A fragment such as the following generates an error indicating that more text is required:

SELECT last_name;

Oracle SQL statements are divided into the following categories:

1. Data Definition Language (DDL) Statements

Data definition language (DLL) statements define, structurally change, and drop schema objects.

DDL enables you to alter attributes of an object without altering the applications that access the object. For example, you can add a column to a table accessed by a human resources application without rewriting the application. You can also use DDL to alter the structure of objects while database users are performing work in the database.

More specifically, DDL statements enable you to:

◈ Create, alter, and drop schema objects and other database structures, including the database itself and database users. Most DDL statements start with the keywords CREATE, ALTER, or DROP.

◈ Delete all the data in schema objects without removing the structure of these objects (TRUNCATE).

◈ Grant and revoke privileges and roles (GRANT, REVOKE).

◈ Turn auditing options on and off (AUDIT, NOAUDIT).

◈ Add a comment to the data dictionary (COMMENT).

DDL Statements

The following example uses DDL statements to create the plants table and then uses DML to insert two rows in the table. The example then uses DDL to alter the table structure, grant and revoke read privileges on this table to a user, and then drop the table.

    ( plant_id    NUMBER PRIMARY KEY,
      common_name VARCHAR2(15) );

INSERT INTO plants VALUES (1, 'African Violet'); # DML statement

INSERT INTO plants VALUES (2, 'Amaryllis'); # DML statement

    ( latin_name VARCHAR2(40) );

GRANT READ ON plants TO scott;

REVOKE READ ON plants FROM scott;

DROP TABLE plants;

An implicit COMMIT occurs immediately before the database executes a DDL statement and a COMMIT or ROLLBACK occurs immediately afterward. In the preceding example, two INSERT statements are followed by an ALTER TABLE statement, so the database commits the two INSERT statements. If the ALTER TABLE statement succeeds, then the database commits this statement; otherwise, the database rolls back this statement. In either case, the two INSERT statements have already been committed.

2. Data Manipulation Language (DML) Statements

Data manipulation language (DML) statements query or manipulate data in existing schema objects.

Whereas DDL statements change the structure of the database, DML statements query or change the contents. For example, ALTER TABLE changes the structure of a table, whereas INSERT adds one or more rows to the table.

DML statements are the most frequently used SQL statements and enable you to:

◈ Retrieve or fetch data from one or more tables or views (SELECT).

◈ Add new rows of data into a table or view (INSERT) by specifying a list of column values or using a subquery to select and manipulate existing data.

◈ Change column values in existing rows of a table or view (UPDATE).

◈ Update or insert rows conditionally into a table or view (MERGE).

◈ Remove rows from tables or views (DELETE).

◈ View the execution plan for a SQL statement (EXPLAIN PLAN).

◈ Lock a table or view, temporarily limiting access by other users (LOCK TABLE).

The following example uses DML to query the employees table. The example uses DML to insert a row into employees, update this row, and then delete it:

SELECT * FROM employees;

INSERT INTO employees (employee_id, last_name, email, job_id, hire_date, salary)
  VALUES (1234, 'Mascis', 'JMASCIS', 'IT_PROG', '14-FEB-2008', 9000);

UPDATE employees SET salary=9100 WHERE employee_id=1234;

DELETE FROM employees WHERE employee_id=1234;

A collection of DML statements that forms a logical unit of work is called a transaction. For example, a transaction to transfer money could involve three discrete operations: decreasing the savings account balance, increasing the checking account balance, and recording the transfer in an account history table. Unlike DDL statements, DML statements do not implicitly commit the current transaction.

SELECT Statements

A query is an operation that retrieves data from a table or view. SELECT is the only SQL statement that you can use to query data. The set of data retrieved from execution of a SELECT statement is known as a result set.

The following table shows two required keywords and two keywords that are commonly found in a SELECT statement. The table also associates capabilities of a SELECT statement with the keywords.

Keywords in a SQL Statement

Keyword Required?  Description  Capability 
SELECT Yes Specifies which columns should be shown in the result. Projection produces a subset of the columns in the table.
An expression is a combination of one or more values, operators, and SQL functions that resolves to a value. The list of expressions that appears after the SELECT keyword and before the FROM clause is called the select list.
FROM  Yes  Specifies the tables or views from which the data should be retrieved.  Joining
WHERE  No  Specifies a condition to filter rows, producing a subset of the rows in the table. A condition specifies a combination of one or more expressions and logical (Boolean) operators and returns a value of TRUE, FALSE, or UNKNOWN.  Selection 
ORDER BY  No  Specifies the order in which the rows should be shown. 


A join is a query that combines rows from two or more tables, views, or materialized views.

The following example joins the employees and departments tables (FROM clause), selects only rows that meet specified criteria (WHERE clause), and uses projection to retrieve data from two columns (SELECT). Sample output follows the SQL statement.

SELECT email, department_name
FROM   employees 
JOIN   departments
ON     employees.department_id = departments.department_id
WHERE  employee_id IN (100,103)
ORDER BY email;

EMAIL                     DEPARTMENT_NAME
-------------------   ------------------------------
AHUNOLD                   IT
SKING                     Executive

The following graphic represents the operations of projection and selection in the join shown in the preceding query.

Projection and Selection

Most joins have at least one join condition, either in the FROM clause or in the WHERE clause, that compares two columns, each from a different table. The database combines pairs of rows, each containing one row from each table, for which the join condition evaluates to TRUE. The optimizer determines the order in which the database joins tables based on the join conditions, indexes, and any available statistics for the tables.

Join types include the following:

◈ Inner joins

An inner join is a join of two or more tables that returns only rows that satisfy the join condition. For example, if the join condition is employees.department_id=departments.department_id, then rows that do not satisfy this condition are not returned.

◈ Outer joins

An outer join returns all rows that satisfy the join condition and also returns rows from one table for which no rows from the other table satisfy the condition.

The result of a left outer join for table A and B always contains all records of the left table A, even if the join condition does not match a record in the right table B. If no matching row from B exists, then B columns contain nulls for rows that have no match in B. For example, if not all employees are in departments, then a left outer join of employees (left table) and departments (right table) retrieves all rows in employees even if no rows in departments satisfy the join condition (employees.department_id is null).

The result of a right outer join for table A and B contains all records of the right table B, even if the join condition does not match a row in the left table A. If no matching row from A exists, then A columns contain nulls for rows that have no match in A. For example, if not all departments have employees, a right outer join of employees (left table) and departments (right table) retrieves all rows in departments even if no rows in employees satisfy the join condition.

A full outer join is the combination of a left outer join and a right outer join.

◈ Cartesian products

If two tables in a join query have no join condition, then the database performs a Cartesian join. Each row of one table combines with each row of the other. For example, if employees has 107 rows and departments has 27, then the Cartesian product contains 107*27 rows. A Cartesian product is rarely useful.


A subquery is a SELECT statement nested within another SQL statement. Subqueries are useful when you must execute multiple queries to solve a single problem.

Each query portion of a statement is called a query block. In the following query, the subquery in parentheses is the inner query block:

SELECT first_name, last_name
FROM   employees
WHERE  department_id
IN     ( SELECT department_id
         FROM departments
         WHERE location_id = 1800 );

The inner SELECT statement retrieves the IDs of departments with location ID 1800. These department IDs are needed by the outer query block, which retrieves names of employees in the departments whose IDs were supplied by the subquery.

The structure of the SQL statement does not force the database to execute the inner query first. For example, the database could rewrite the entire query as a join of employees and departments, so that the subquery never executes by itself. As another example, the Virtual Private Database (VPD) feature could restrict the query of employees using a WHERE clause, so that the database queries the employees first and then obtains the department IDs. The optimizer determines the best sequence of steps to retrieve the requested rows.

Implicit Queries

An implicit query is a component of a DML statement that retrieves data without using a subquery. An UPDATE, DELETE, or MERGE statement that does not explicitly include a SELECT statement uses an implicit query to retrieve rows to be modified.

For example, the following statement includes an implicit query for the Baer record:

UPDATE employees
  SET salary = salary*1.1
  WHERE last_name = 'Baer';

The only DML statement that does not necessarily include a query component is an INSERT statement with a VALUES clause. For example, an INSERT INTO TABLE mytable VALUES (1) statement does not retrieve rows before inserting a row.

3. Transaction Control Statements

Transaction control statements manage the changes made by DML statements and group DML statements into transactions.

These statements enable you to:

◈ Make changes to a transaction permanent (COMMIT).

◈ Undo the changes in a transaction, since the transaction started (ROLLBACK) or since a savepoint (ROLLBACK TO SAVEPOINT). A savepoint is a user-declared intermediate marker within the context of a transaction.

Note: The ROLLBACK statement ends a transaction, but ROLLBACK TO SAVEPOINT does not.

◈ Set a point to which you can roll back (SAVEPOINT).

◈ Establish properties for a transaction (SET TRANSACTION).

◈ Specify whether a deferrable integrity constraint is checked following each DML statement or when the transaction is committed (SET CONSTRAINT).

The following example starts a transaction named Update salaries. The example creates a savepoint, updates an employee salary, and then rolls back the transaction to the savepoint. The example updates the salary to a different value and commits.

SET TRANSACTION NAME 'Update salaries';

SAVEPOINT before_salary_update;

UPDATE employees SET salary=9100 WHERE employee_id=1234 # DML

ROLLBACK TO SAVEPOINT before_salary_update;

UPDATE employees SET salary=9200 WHERE employee_id=1234 # DML

COMMIT COMMENT 'Updated salaries';

4. Session Control Statements

Session control statements dynamically manage the properties of a user session.

A session is a logical entity in the database instance memory that represents the state of a current user login to a database. A session lasts from the time the user is authenticated by the database until the user disconnects or exits the database application.

Session control statements enable you to:

◈ Alter the current session by performing a specialized function, such as setting the default date format (ALTER SESSION).

◈ Enable and disable roles, which are groups of privileges, for the current session (SET ROLE).

The following statement dynamically changes the default date format for your session to 'YYYY MM DD-HH24:MI:SS':


Session control statements do not implicitly commit the current transaction.

5. System Control Statement

A system control statement changes the properties of the database instance.

The only system control statement is ALTER SYSTEM. It enables you to change settings such as the minimum number of shared servers, terminate a session, and perform other system-level tasks.

Examples of the system control statement include:



The ALTER SYSTEM statement does not implicitly commit the current transaction.

6. Embedded SQL Statements

Embedded SQL statements incorporate DDL, DML, and transaction control statements within a procedural language program. .

Embedded statements are used with the Oracle precompilers. Embedded SQL is one approach to incorporating SQL in your procedural language applications. Another approach is to use a procedural API such as Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) or Java Database Connectivity (JDBC).

Embedded SQL statements enable you to:

◈ Define, allocate, and release a cursor (DECLARE CURSOR, OPEN, CLOSE).

◈ Specify a database and connect to it (DECLARE DATABASE, CONNECT).

◈ Assign variable names (DECLARE STATEMENT).

◈ Initialize descriptors (DESCRIBE).

◈ Specify how error and warning conditions are handled (WHENEVER).

◈ Parse and run SQL statements (PREPARE, EXECUTE, EXECUTE IMMEDIATE).

◈ Retrieve data from the database (FETCH).