Join (SQL)

Join (SQL), SQL clause.

SQL clause

A join clause in SQL – corresponding to a join operation in relational algebra – combines columns from one or more tables into a new table. ANSI-standard SQL specifies five types of JOIN: INNER, LEFT OUTER, RIGHT OUTER, FULL OUTER and CROSS.


Example tables

To explain join types, the rest of this article uses the following tables:

Department.DepartmentID is the primary key of the Department table, whereas Employee.DepartmentID is a foreign key.

Note that in Employee, "Williams" has not yet been assigned to a department. Also, no employees have been assigned to the "Marketing" department.

This is the SQL statement to create the above tables:

CREATE TABLE department(
    DepartmentName VARCHAR(20)

CREATE TABLE employee (
    LastName VARCHAR(20),
    DepartmentID INT REFERENCES department(DepartmentID)

INSERT INTO department
VALUES (31, 'Sales'),
       (33, 'Engineering'),
       (34, 'Clerical'),
       (35, 'Marketing');

INSERT INTO employee
VALUES ('Rafferty', 31),
       ('Jones', 33),
       ('Heisenberg', 33),
       ('Robinson', 34),
       ('Smith', 34),
       ('Williams', NULL);

Cross join

CROSS JOIN returns the Cartesian product of rows from tables in the join. In other words, it will produce rows which combine each row from the first table with each row from the second table.

Example of an explicit cross join:

FROM employee CROSS JOIN department;

Example of an implicit cross join:

FROM employee, department;

The cross join can be replaced with an inner join with an always-true condition:

FROM employee INNER JOIN department ON 1=1;

CROSS JOIN does not itself apply any predicate to filter rows from the joined table. The results of a CROSS JOIN can be filtered using a WHERE clause, which may then produce the equivalent of an inner join.

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