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Using column aliases in a WHERE clause

Posted on Wednesday, May 20 2015 at 12:18 | Category: SQL & Databases | 1 Comment(s)

Just wanted to answer a question on StackOverflow, where someone had a data model like this:

CREATE TABLE tvalues (cid NUMBER, cvalue NUMBER);
INSERT INTO tvalues VALUES(1, 200);
INSERT INTO tvalues VALUES(2, 1500);
INSERT INTO tvalues VALUES(3, 3200);
INSERT INTO tvalues VALUES(4, 4500);
COMMIT;
SELECT * FROM tvalues;
CID  CVALUE
------------
  1    200
  2   1500
  3   3200
  4   4500

The question was how to get the cid of the row so that a given value is between the value of the previous row and the value of the row for which to return the id (e.g. given value = 4000 should return id=4). Obviously, since in a relational database system, rows do not have an inherent order (there is no "next" or "previous" row), we need a sort criteria which I simply assumed to be the CID column.

The solution I had in mind was to use an analytical function like LEAD() or LAG(). These functions allow to access the next or the previous row (see how the analytical function requires an ORDER definition, otherwise it would not know what the next or previous row is):

SELECT cid, LAG(cvalue, 1, 0) OVER(ORDER BY cid) cmin, cvalue cmax
FROM tvalues;
CID     CMIN        CMAX
--------------------------
  1        0         200
  2      200        1500
  3     1500        3200
  4     3200        4500

This returns a nice range-wise view of the data. Now the final solution should be easy: simply restrict the result set so that the given value is between the minimum and the maximum value:

SELECT cid, LAG(cvalue, 1, 0) OVER(ORDER BY cid) cmin, cvalue cmax
FROM tvalues
WHERE cmin < 4000 AND cmax > 4000;

However, this query returns an error message:

ORA-00904: "CMAX": invalid identifier
The reason is that it is generally not possible to use column aliases in the WHERE clause (or in any other part of the SELECT statement, with a few exceptions like ORDER BY). This also has nothing to do with the analytical functions - the following simple query does not work either:
SELECT cvalue avalue
FROM tvalues
WHERE avalue > 1000;
ORA-00904: "AVALUE": invalid identifier
00904. 00000 -  "%s: invalid identifier"

The reason is that the select list (the projection) is the last part which is processed in an SQL statement, hence the SQL parser does not yet know the column aliases when it processes other parts of the query, like the WHERE statement (btw, while investigating this, someone else posted a very similar answer to the original question).

The final solution is easy: the query just needs to be wrapped into another query as a sub query:

SELECT * FROM (
   SELECT cid, LAG(cvalue, 1, 0) OVER(ORDER BY cid) cmin, cvalue cmax
   FROM tvalues
) WHERE cmin < 4000 AND cmax > 4000;
CID     CMIN        CMAX
--------------------------
4	3200	    4500

In Hierarchical queries using the Oracle RDBMS - Determine ordering within each level, I showed how to sort the rows of a hierarchical SQL query within each tree level by using ORDER SIBLINGS BY instead of ORDER BY.

There is one detail to keep in mind, though: even the ORDER SIBLINGS BY is done on the overall result of the query, which can cause problems when using UNION ALL to take additional rows into the result:

SELECT 0, 0, 'xyz' FROM DUAL
UNION ALL
SELECT LEVEL, Id, substr( LPAD (' ', 3 * (LEVEL - 1)) || Label, 0, 30) Node
FROM TreeNode
START WITH Parent = 0
CONNECT BY PRIOR Id = Parent
ORDER SIBLINGS BY Label;
ERROR at line 7:
ORA-30929: ORDER SIBLINGS BY clause not allowed here

Using parantheses to explicitly group the second select within the UNION ALL does not help, but there is a simple solution: just wrap the hierarchical query into a sub select, and then do a SELECT * from the sub select:

SELECT 0, 0, 'xyz' FROM DUAL
UNION ALL
SELECT * FROM (
	SELECT LEVEL, Id, substr( LPAD (' ', 3 * (LEVEL - 1)) || Label, 0, 30) Node
	FROM TreeNode
	START WITH Parent = 0
	CONNECT BY PRIOR Id = Parent
	ORDER SIBLINGS BY Label
);
                 0                  0 'XYZ'
------------------ ------------------ ---------
                 0                  0 xyz
                 1                  1 Root Node
                 2                  2    Node 1
                 3                  3       Node 1.1
                 3                  4       Node 1.2
...

New article: Hierarchical queries using the Oracle database

Posted on Thursday, October 16 2014 at 12:10 | Category: SQL & Databases | 0 Comment(s)

This article shows how to execute hierarchical queries using the Oracle database: Hierarchical queries using the Oracle RDBMS


SQL "GROUP BY" by example

Posted on Thursday, October 09 2014 at 11:16 | Category: SQL & Databases | 0 Comment(s)

GROUP BY example

The GROUP BY clause is used to group selected rows by a certain expression, means it groups all rows for which the given expression returns the same value. Then, for each group, a single result is calculated by using aggregate functions (the number of result rows is the same as the number of groups). See Oracle┬« Database SQL Language Reference: group_by_clause for more information.

As an example, lets assume we have some revenue information for each month:

Description Month     Revenue
----------- --------- -------
Deal 1      January   100
Deal 2      January   150
Deal 3      February  200
Deal 4      February  50
Deal 5      March     120

Using GROUP BY, we can group the data by Month and calculate a single result for each group, for example the summary of all revenues for each month:

Description Month     Revenue
----------- --------- -------

Deal 1      January   100
Deal 2      January   150
===========================
             Summary: 250

Deal 3      February  200
Deal 4      February  50
===========================
             Summary: 250

Deal 5      March     120
=========================== 
             Summary: 120

The result will then only contain the three rows with the summarized revenue values.

GROUP BY SQL query

Lets see how this works in SQL - first, we create a table with some data, according to the example from above:

CREATE TABLE t_revenue (
   c_id          NUMBER(18) NOT NULL,
   c_description VARCHAR2(100) NOT NULL,
   c_month       VARCHAR2(20) NOT NULL,
   c_amount      NUMBER(18) NOT NULL
);

INSERT INTO t_revenue VALUES(0, 'Deal 1', 'January', 100);
INSERT INTO t_revenue VALUES(1, 'Deal 2', 'January', 150);
INSERT INTO t_revenue VALUES(2, 'Deal 3', 'February', 200);
INSERT INTO t_revenue VALUES(3, 'Deal 4', 'February', 50);
INSERT INTO t_revenue VALUES(4, 'Deal 5', 'March', 120);
COMMIT;

The most simple example calculates the summary of all revenues for each month, as above:

SELECT SUM(c_amount)    -- The expression (aggregate function) which is applied to each group of rows
FROM t_revenue
GROUP BY c_month;       -- The expression by which to group the rows
SUM(C_AMOUNT)
-------------
          120
          250
          250

While this query works as expected, we can not see which month the results refer to - but we can simply add the month column to the result:

SELECT c_month, SUM(c_amount)
FROM t_revenue
GROUP BY c_month;
C_MONTH              SUM(C_AMOUNT)
-------------------- -------------
March                          120
January                        250
February                       250

(Note that, with this data model, it is not easy to sort by the month - we can not simply ORDER BY c_month because that would cause "February" to appear before "January").

ORA-00979: not a GROUP BY expression

One error which often occurs with GROUP BY is ORA-00979: not a GROUP BY expression. That means what we have added an expression to the projection of the SQL statement (the columns which we want to select) which would not result in a single value. For example, we could try to add the c_description column as follows:

SELECT c_description, c_month, SUM(c_amount)
FROM t_revenue
GROUP BY c_month;

But since the c_description column can not be condensed to a single value for each group (the values neither have the same value within the group as specified in the GROUP BY clause, nor are they condensed to a single value through an aggregate function) we get:

SELECT c_description, c_month, SUM(c_amount)
       *
ERROR at line 1:
ORA-00979: not a GROUP BY expression

However, we could use another aggregate function, for example LISTAGG which returns a single result by concatenating the values of a given column for each row within the group. The LISTAGG function also requires some additional syntax to define the ordering of the values within the list. See the LISTAGG documentation for more information.

SELECT LISTAGG(c_description, ';') WITHIN GROUP (ORDER BY c_description) Deals, 
       c_month, SUM(c_amount)
FROM t_revenue
GROUP BY c_month;
DEALS            C_MONTH      SUM(C_AMOUNT)
---------------- ------------ -------------
Deal 3;Deal 4    February               250
Deal 1;Deal 2    January                250
Deal 5           March                  120

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