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Difference between INNER and OUTER joins

847

How do LEFT JOIN, RIGHT JOIN, and FULL JOIN fit in?

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0

Assuming you're joining on columns with no duplicates, which is a very common case:

  • An inner join of A and B gives the result of A intersect B, i.e. the inner part of a Venn diagram intersection.

  • An outer join of A and B gives the results of A union B, i.e. the outer parts of a Venn diagram union.

Examples

Suppose you have two tables, with a single column each, and data as follows:

A    B
-    -
1    3
2    4
3    5
4    6

Note that (1,2) are unique to A, (3,4) are common, and (5,6) are unique to B.

Inner join

An inner join using either of the equivalent queries gives the intersection of the two tables, i.e. the two rows they have in common.

select * from a INNER JOIN b on a.a = b.b;
select a.*,b.*  from a,b where a.a = b.b;

a | b
--+--
3 | 3
4 | 4

Left outer join

A left outer join will give all rows in A, plus any common rows in B.

select * from a LEFT OUTER JOIN b on a.a = b.b;
select a.*,b.*  from a,b where a.a = b.b(+);

a |  b
--+-----
1 | null
2 | null
3 |    3
4 |    4

Right outer join

A right outer join will give all rows in B, plus any common rows in A.

select * from a RIGHT OUTER JOIN b on a.a = b.b;
select a.*,b.*  from a,b where a.a(+) = b.b;

a    |  b
-----+----
3    |  3
4    |  4
null |  5
null |  6

Full outer join

A full outer join will give you the union of A and B, i.e. all the rows in A and all the rows in B. If something in A doesn't have a corresponding datum in B, then the B portion is null, and vice versa.

select * from a FULL OUTER JOIN b on a.a = b.b;

 a   |  b
-----+-----
   1 | null
   2 | null
   3 |    3
   4 |    4
null |    6
null |    5
  • answered 3 years ago
  • Sandy Hook

0

Also you can consider the following schema for different join types;

Source: Visual-Representation-of-SQL-Joins explained in detail by C.L. Moffatt

  • answered 3 years ago
  • Gul Hafiz

0

I recommend Jeff's blog article. The best description I've ever seen, plus there is a visualization, e.g.:

Inner Join:

Full Outer Join:

 

  • answered 3 years ago
  • Sandy Hook

0

The Venn diagrams don't really do it for me.

They don't show any distinction between a cross join and an inner join, for example, or more generally show any distinction between different types of join predicate or provide a framework for reasoning about how they will operate.

There is no substitute for understanding the logical processing and it is relatively simple to grasp anyway.

Source Tables

First start with a CROSS JOIN (AKA Cartesian Product). This does not have an ON clause and simply returns every permutation of rows from the two tables.

SELECT A.Colour, B.Colour FROM A CROSS JOIN B

Inner and Outer joins have an "ON" clause predicate.

  • Inner Join. Evaluate the condition in the "ON" clause for all rows in the cross join result. If true return the joined row. Otherwise discard it.
  • Left Outer Join. Same as inner join then for any rows in the left table that did not match anything output these with NULL values for the right table columns.
  • Right Outer Join. Same as inner join then for any rows in the right table that did not match anything output these with NULL values for the left table columns.
  • Full Outer Join. Same as inner join then preserve left non matched rows as in left outer join and right non matching rows as per right outer join.

Some examples

SELECT A.Colour, B.Colour FROM A INNER JOIN B ON A.Colour = B.Colour

The above is the classic equi join.

SELECT A.Colour, B.Colour FROM A INNER JOIN B ON A.Colour NOT IN ('Green','Blue')

The inner join condition need not necessarily be an equality condition and it need not reference columns from both (or even either) of the tables. Evaluating A.Colour NOT IN ('Green','Blue') on each row of the cross join returns.

SELECT A.Colour, B.Colour FROM A INNER JOIN B ON 1 =1

The join condition evaluates to true for all rows in the cross join result so this is just the same as a cross join. I won't repeat the picture of the 16 rows again.

SELECT A.Colour, B.Colour FROM A LEFT OUTER JOIN B ON A.Colour = B.Colour

Outer Joins are logically evaluated in the same way as inner joins except that if a row from the left table (for a left join) does not join with any rows from the right hand table at all it is preserved in the result with NULL values for the right hand columns.

SELECT A.Colour, B.Colour FROM A LEFT OUTER JOIN B ON A.Colour = B.Colour WHERE B.Colour IS NULL

This simply restricts the previous result to only return the rows where B.Colour IS NULL. In this particular case these will be the rows that were preserved as they had no match in the right hand table and the query returns the single red row not matched in table B. This is known as an anti semi join.

It is important to select a column for the IS NULL test that is either not nullable or for which the join condition ensures that any NULL values will be excluded in order for this pattern to work correctly and avoid just bringing back rows which happen to have a NULL value for that column in addition to the un matched rows.

SELECT A.Colour, B.Colour FROM A RIGHT OUTER JOIN B ON A.Colour = B.Colour

Right outer joins act similarly to left outer joins except they preserve non matching rows from the right table and null extend the left hand columns.

SELECT A.Colour, B.Colour FROM A FULL OUTER JOIN B ON A.Colour = B.Colour

Full outer joins combine the behaviour of left and right joins and preserve the non matching rows from both the left and the right tables.

SELECT A.Colour, B.Colour FROM A FULL OUTER JOIN B ON 1 = 0

No rows in the cross join match the 1=0 predicate. All rows from both sides are preserved using normal outer join rules with NULL in the columns from the table on the other side.

SELECT COALESCE(A.Colour, B.Colour) AS Colour FROM A FULL OUTER JOIN B ON 1 = 0

With a minor amend to the preceding query one could simulate a UNION ALL of the two tables.

SELECT A.Colour, B.Colour FROM A LEFT OUTER JOIN B ON A.Colour = B.Colour WHERE B.Colour = 'Green'

Note that the WHERE clause (if present) logically runs after the join. One common error is to perform a left outer join and then include a WHERE clause with a condition on the right table that ends up excluding the non matching rows. The above ends up performing the outer join...

.. And then the "Where" clause runs. NULL= 'Green' does not evaluate to true so the row preserved by the outer join ends up discarded (along with the blue one) effectively converting the join back to an inner one.

If the intention was to include only rows from B where Colour is Green and all rows from A regardless the correct syntax would be

SELECT A.Colour, B.Colour FROM A LEFT OUTER JOIN B ON A.Colour = B.Colour AND B.Colour = 'Green'

  • answered 3 years ago
  • Sandy Hook

0

In simple words:

An inner join retrieve the matched rows only.

Whereas an outer join retrieve the matched rows from one table and all rows in other table ....the result depends on which one you are using:

  • Left: Matched rows in the right table and all rows in the left table

  • Right: Matched rows in the left table and all rows in the right table or

  • Full: All rows in all tables. It doesn't matter if there is a match or not

  • answered 3 years ago
  • Sunny Solu

0

Inner joins require that a record with a related ID exist in the joined table.

Outer joins will return records for the left side even if nothing exists for the right side.

For instance, you have an Orders and an OrderDetails table. They are related by an "OrderID".

Orders

  • OrderID
  • CustomerName

OrderDetails

  • OrderDetailID
  • OrderID
  • ProductName
  • Qty
  • Price

The request

SELECT Orders.OrderID, Orders.CustomerName FROM Orders 
INNER JOIN OrderDetails ON Orders.OrderID = OrderDetails.OrderID

will only return Orders that also have something in the OrderDetails table.

If you change it to OUTER LEFT JOIN

SELECT Orders.OrderID, Orders.CustomerName FROM Orders 
LEFT JOIN OrderDetails ON Orders.OrderID = OrderDetails.OrderID

then it will return records from the Orders table even if they have no OrderDetails records.

You can use this to find Orders that do not have any OrderDetails indicating a possible orphaned order by adding a where clause like WHERE OrderDetails.OrderID IS NULL.

  • answered 3 years ago
  • Sunny Solu

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