About ‘ROWNUM’ in Oracle


ROWNUM is an Oracle pseudo column which numbers the rows in a result set.

SELECT rownum, table_name
FROM user_tables;

ROWNUM TABLE_NAME
————- —————–
1 EMP
2 DEPT
3 BONUS
4 SALGRADE
5 DUMMY

5 rows selected

Here is a summary of how ROWNUM can be used.

Limiting Rows

ROWNUM can be used to limit the number of rows returned by a query in a similar way to LIMIT in Postgres and MySql, TOP in SQL Server and FETCH FIRST in DB2.

SELECT rownum, table_name
FROM user_tables
WHERE rownum <=3;

ROWNUM TABLE_NAME
————- —————–
1 EMP
2 DEPT
3 BONUS

3 rows selected

ROWNUM with DML

The use of ROWNUM is not restricted to select statements. It can be used with DML statements that update the database too.

CREATE TABLE o AS
SELECT *
FROM all_objects
WHERE rownum <= 1000;

Table created

UPDATE o
SET object_id = rownum,
created = created + INTERVAL '1' MINUTE * rownum
WHERE rownum 2;

RNUM TABLE_NAME
——– —————-
3 SALGRADE
4 DUMMY
5 DEPT

3 rows selected

You will notice that an inline view has been introduced to transform the ROWNUM pseudo column into a ‘real’ column before we do the comparison.

It is tempting to write the above SQL as follows.

SELECT table_name
FROM user_tables
WHERE rownum > 2;

TABLE_NAME
——————————

0 rows selected

However, this query will always return zero rows, regardless of the number of rows in the table.

To explain this behaviour, we need to understand how Oracle processes ROWNUM. When assigning ROWNUM to a row, Oracle starts at 1 and only only increments the value when a row is selected; that is, when all conditions in the WHERE clause are met. Since our condition requires that ROWNUM is greater than 2, no rows are selected and ROWNUM is never incremented beyond 1.

The bottom line is that conditions such as the following will work as expected.

.. WHERE rownum = 1;

.. WHERE rownum 10;

Top-n Query

Typically, a top-n query sorts data into the required sequence and then limits the output to a subset of rows.

For example, suppose we wish to retrieve the top three earners from our employee table.

SELECT ename, sal
FROM (
SELECT ename, sal
FROM emp
ORDER BY sal DESC)
WHERE rownum <=3;

ENAME SAL
———- ———
KING 5000
SCOTT 3000
FORD 3000

3 rows selected

The inline view (the inner select) sorts the rows and passes the result up to the outer select. The outer select then limits the output to three rows.

It may seem more natural to use the following SQL.

SELECT ename, sal
FROM emp
WHERE rownum <=3
ORDER BY sal DESC;

ENAME SAL
———- ———————-
ALLEN 1600
WARD 1250
SMITH 800

3 rows selected

However, this does not give us the result we want because Oracle assigns the ROWNUM values to the rows before it does the sort.

In this example, Oracle will retrieve three rows from the table, any three rows, and sort only these three rows. We really need Oracle to sort all the rows and then return the first three. The inline view will ensure that this will happen.

Sort Performance

Limiting rows on a sorted result set using ROWNUM can also provide an added performance benefit. Rather than physically sorting all the rows to retrieve just the top few, Oracle maintains an array which contains just the highest or the lowest values (depending on whether we specified ASC or DESC in the ORDER BY clause). The size of the array will be the number of rows we wish to return. As rows are processed, only the highest (or lowest) values are retained in the array. All other rows are discarded.

Pagination

Next, we will see how ROWNUM is used to select a range of rows from within a result set. This is useful if we are to provide pagination on a web screen, for example.

Suppose we are paging through the employee table in name order and we wish to display rows six to ten inclusive.

SELECT rnum, ename, job
FROM
(SELECT /*+ FIRST_ROWS(10) */ rownum rnum, ename, job
FROM
(SELECT ename, job
FROM emp
ORDER BY ename)
WHERE rownum 5;

RNUM ENAME JOB
——– ———- ———
6 JAMES CLERK
7 JONES MANAGER
8 KING PRESIDENT
9 MARTIN SALESMAN
10 MILLER CLERK

5 rows selected

We use nested inline views to retrieve and sort the data and then apply the range check using ROWNUM. We have split the upper and lower bound check, which allows Oracle to use COUNT(STOPKEY) in the execution plan when checking for ROWNUM <= 10. This is a performance optimization which, along with the sorting optimization described earlier, will ensure that our query runs efficiently as the table grows.

The FIRST_ROWS(n) hint also tells Oracle to optimize the query so that the first n rows are returned as quickly as possible.

Summary

ROWNUM provides a mechanism for returning a subset or range of rows from a query. It can be misleading at first if not properly understood but, once mastered, is invaluable for limiting result set output for pagination and top-n style queries.

For more information on ROWNUM, see Tom Kytes article on OTN.

For more information on Oracle, visit level up.

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How to create schema for Oracle APEX Workspace?


If you choose to create a schema while creating the workspace in Oracle Application Express administration service, APEX will create a brand new tablespace as well. This may not be an ideal situation. Having too many tablespaces, specially when it is not required, adds management and administrative overhead.

You can use the following script to create the schema and then just use this schema when you are creating the worksace.

— Connect as SYSTEM or DBA User
$ sqlplus system/password@XE

— Create the new Schema/User
CREATE USER APEXAPPS IDENTIFIED BY APEXAPPS
DEFAULT TABLESPACE APEXAPPS_TS
TEMPORARY TABLESPACE TEMP;

— Grant quota on assigned tablespace
ALTER USER APEXAPPS QUOTA 10M ON APEXAPPS_TS ;

— Grant Role Priviledge
GRANT “CONNECT” TO APEXAPPS ;
ALTER USER APEXAPPS DEFAULT ROLE “CONNECT”;

— Grant system privileges
GRANT CREATE JOB TO APEXAPPS ;
GRANT CREATE INDEXTYPE TO APEXAPPS ;
GRANT CREATE SYNONYM TO APEXAPPS ;
GRANT CREATE DIMENSION TO APEXAPPS ;
GRANT CREATE VIEW TO APEXAPPS ;
GRANT CREATE CLUSTER TO APEXAPPS ;
GRANT CREATE MATERIALIZED VIEW TO APEXAPPS ;
GRANT CREATE PROCEDURE TO APEXAPPS ;
GRANT CREATE ANY CONTEXT TO APEXAPPS ;
GRANT CREATE TYPE TO APEXAPPS ;
GRANT CREATE SEQUENCE TO APEXAPPS ;
GRANT CREATE OPERATOR TO APEXAPPS ;
GRANT CREATE TRIGGER TO APEXAPPS ;
GRANT CREATE TABLE TO APEXAPPS ;

— Grant Object Privileges
GRANT EXECUTE ON SYS.DBMS_RLS TO APEXAPPS ;
GRANT EXECUTE ON CTXSYS.CTX_DDL TO APEXAPPS ;
GRANT EXECUTE ON CTXSYS.CTX_DOC TO APEXAPPS ;

These commands will create the schema and assign the same privileges to that schema that gets assigned when you create a new schema while creating the APEX workspace (verified in Oracle APEX 4.1). Once the schema is created specify ‘Yes’ for Re-use existing schema and then specify the schema name.