Set operations (SQL)
In SQL the
UNION clause combines the results of two SQL queries into a single table of all matching rows. The two queries must result in the same number of columns and compatible data types in order to unite. Any duplicate records are automatically removed unless
UNION ALL is used.
UNION can be useful in data warehouse applications where tables aren't perfectly normalized. A simple example would be a database having tables
sales2006 that have identical structures but are separated because of performance considerations. A
UNION query could combine results from both tables.
UNION does not guarantee the order of rows. Rows from the second operand may appear before, after, or mixed with rows from the first operand. In situations where a specific order is desired,
ORDER BY must be used.
UNION ALL may be much faster than plain
Given these two tables:
Executing this statement:
SELECT * FROM sales2005 UNION SELECT * FROM sales2006;
yields this result set, though the order of the rows can vary because no
ORDER BY clause was supplied:
Note that there are two rows for Joe because those rows are distinct across their columns. There is only one row for Alex because those rows are not distinct for both columns.
UNION ALL gives different results, because it will not eliminate duplicates. Executing this statement:
SELECT * FROM sales2005 UNION ALL SELECT * FROM sales2006;
would give these results, again allowing variance for the lack of an
ORDER BY statement:
The discussion of full outer joins also has an example that uses
INTERSECT operator takes the results of two queries and returns only rows that appear in both result sets. For purposes of duplicate removal the
INTERSECT operator does not distinguish between
INTERSECT operator removes duplicate rows from the final result set. The
INTERSECT ALL operator does not remove duplicate rows from the final result set.
The following example
INTERSECT query returns all rows from the Orders table where Quantity is between 50 and 100.
SELECT * FROM Orders WHERE Quantity BETWEEN 1 AND 100 INTERSECT SELECT * FROM Orders WHERE Quantity BETWEEN 50 AND 200;
EXCEPT operator takes the distinct rows of one query and returns the rows that do not appear in a second result set. The
EXCEPT ALL operator (not supported in MSSQL) does not remove duplicates. For purposes of row elimination and duplicate removal, the
EXCEPT operator does not distinguish between
The following example
EXCEPT query returns all rows from the Orders table where Quantity is between 1 and 49, and those with a Quantity between 76 and 100.
Worded another way; the query returns all rows where the Quantity is between 1 and 100, apart from rows where the quantity is between 50 and 75.
SELECT * FROM Orders WHERE Quantity BETWEEN 1 AND 100 EXCEPT SELECT * FROM Orders WHERE Quantity BETWEEN 50 AND 75;
The following example is equivalent to the above example but without using the
SELECT o1.* FROM ( SELECT * FROM Orders WHERE Quantity BETWEEN 1 AND 100) o1 LEFT JOIN ( SELECT * FROM Orders WHERE Quantity BETWEEN 50 AND 75) o2 ON o1.id = o2.id WHERE o2.id IS NULL
UNION ALLviews technique for managing maintenance and performance in your large data warehouse environment ... This
UNION ALLtechnique has saved many of my clients with issues related to time-sensitive database designs. These databases usually have an extremely volatile current timeframe, month, or day portion and the older data is rarely updated. Using different container DASD allocations, tablespaces, tables, and index definitions, the settings can be tuned for the specific performance considerations for these different volatility levels and update frequency situations." Terabyte Data Warehouse Table Design Choices - Part 2 (URL accessed on July 25, 2006)
- MSDN documentation on UNION in Transact-SQL for SQL Server
- Naming of select list items in set operations
- UNION in MySQL with Examples
- UNION in MySQL
- UNION Clause in PostgreSQL
- SQL UNION and UNION ALL
- Sort order within UNION statement
- Designing a data flow that loads a warehouse table
- Oracle 11g documentation for UNION (ALL), INTERSECT and MINUS
- SQL Set Operators