SQL > SQL JOIN > Outer Join

Previously, we had looked at left join, or inner join, where we select rows common to the participating tables to a join. What about the cases where we are interested in selecting elements in a table regardless of whether they are present in the second table? We will now need to use the SQL OUTER JOIN command.

The syntax for performing an outer join in SQL is database-dependent. For example, in Oracle, we will place an "(+)" in the WHERE clause on the other side of the table for which we want to include all the rows.

Let's assume that we have the following two tables,

Table Store_Information

Los Angeles1500Jan-05-1999
San Diego250Jan-07-1999
Los Angeles300Jan-08-1999

Table Geography

EastNew York
WestLos Angeles
WestSan Diego

and we want to find out the sales amount for all of the stores. If we do a regular join, we will not be able to get what we want because we will have missed "New York," since it does not appear in the Store_Information table. Therefore, we need to perform an outer join on the two tables above:

SELECT A1.Store_Name, SUM(A2.Sales) SALES
FROM Geography A1, Store_Information A2
WHERE A1.Store_Name = A2.Store_Name (+)
GROUP BY A1.Store_Name;

Note that in this case, we are using the Oracle syntax for outer join.


New York
Los Angeles1800
San Diego250

Note: NULL is returned when there is no match on the second table. In this case, "New York" does not appear in the table Store_Information, thus its corresponding "SALES" column is NULL.


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