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The GREATEST and LEAST functions can be useful in certain situations. Don t confuse them with the MAX and MIN group functions (which are covered in detail in 8). For now, remember the following differences: GREATEST and LEAST allow you to make horizontal comparisons; they operate at the row level. MAX and MIN allow you to make vertical comparisons; they operate at the column level.
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Listing 5-22 shows an example of the GREATEST and LEAST functions, selecting three constant expressions against the DUAL table.
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Listing 5-22. Using the GREATEST and LEAST Functions select greatest(12*6,148/2,73) , least (12*6,148/2,73) from dual; GREATEST(12*6,148/2,73) LEAST(12*6,148/2,73) ----------------------- -------------------74 72
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The NVL function is useful if you want to prevent certain expressions, or expression components, from evaluating to a null value, as you can see in Listing 5-23. Listing 5-23. Using the NVL Function select , from where ename, msal, comm 12*msal+nvl(comm,0) as yearsal employees ename like '%T%';
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ENAME MSAL COMM YEARSAL -------- -------- -------- -------SMITH 800 9600 MARTIN 1250 1400 16400 SCOTT 3000 36000 TURNER 1500 0 18000
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The DECODE function is a typical remnant from the days that Oracle SQL did not yet support CASE expressions. There are three good reasons not to use DECODE anymore: DECODE function expressions are quite difficult to read. DECODE is not part of the ANSI/ISO SQL standard. CASE expressions are much more powerful.
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For completeness, and because you may encounter the DECODE function in legacy Oracle SQL programs, Listing 5-24 shows a query where the DECODE function is used in the SELECT clause (to get a certain output) and in the ORDER BY clause (to do a customized sorting of the records). Listing 5-24. Using the DECODE Function select job, ename , decode(greatest(msal,2500) ,2500,'cheap','expensive') as class
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RETRIEVAL: FUNCTIONS
from where order
employees bdate < date '1964-01-01' by decode(job,'DIRECTOR',1,'MANAGER',2,3); ENAME -------KING BLAKE ALLEN WARD MILLER FORD SCOTT MARTIN CLASS --------expensive expensive cheap cheap cheap expensive expensive cheap
JOB -------DIRECTOR MANAGER SALESREP SALESREP ADMIN TRAINER TRAINER SALESREP
5.7 Conversion Functions
Conversion functions allow you to convert expressions explicitly from one datatype into another datatype. Table 5-11 lists the most common conversion functions in Oracle SQL. See Oracle SQL Reference for more conversion functions. Table 5-11. Common Oracle Conversion Functions
Function
TO_CHAR(n[,fmt]) TO_CHAR(d[,fmt]) TO_NUMBER(t) TO_BINARY_FLOAT(e[,fmt]) TO_BINARY_DOUBLE(e[,fmt]) TO_DATE(t[,fmt]) TO_YMINTERVAL(t) TO_DSINTERVAL(t) TO_TIMESTAMP (t[,fmt]) CAST(e AS t)
Description
Convert number n to a string Convert date/time expression d to a string Convert string t to a number Convert expression e to a floating-point number Convert expression e to a double-precision, floating-point number Convert string t to a date Convert string t to a YEAR TO MONTH interval Convert string t to a DAY TO SECOND interval Convert string t to a timestamp Convert expression e to datatype t
RETRIEVAL: FUNCTIONS
Note The syntax in Table 5-11 is not complete. Most conversion functions allow you to specify additional NLS parameters after the format (fmt) argument. For example, you can influence the currency symbol, the numeric characters (period and comma), and the date language. See Oracle SQL Reference and Globalization Support Guide for more details.
TO_NUMBER and TO_CHAR
Listing 5-25 shows how you can use the TO_NUMBER and TO_CHAR functions (with or without a format argument) to convert strings to numbers and vice versa. Listing 5-25. Using the TO_CHAR and TO_NUMBER Functions select , , , from 123 to_char(123) to_char(123,'$09999.99') to_number('123') dual;
123 TO_ TO_CHAR(12 TO_NUMBER('123') -------- --- ---------- ---------------123 123 $00123.00 123 Listing 5-26 shows how you can nest conversion functions. On the third line, you use the TO_DATE function to interpret the string '01/01/2006' as a date value; then, you use the TO_CHAR function to extract the day from the date value, as you can see in the third column of the query result. Listing 5-26. Nesting the TO_CHAR and TO_DATE Functions select sysdate as today , to_char(sysdate,'hh24:mi:ss') as time , to_char(to_date('01/01/2006','dd/mm/yyyy') ,'"is on "Day') as new_year_2006 from dual; TODAY TIME NEW_YEAR_2006 --------- -------- --------------24-MAY-04 15:05:48 is on Sunday In this example, the format Day results in Sunday because the default language is English. You can set the NLS_LANGUAGE parameter to another language to influence this behavior. For example, if you set this session (or system) parameter to Dutch, the result becomes Zondag (see also Listing 2-20 in 2). You could also override this default at the statement level, by setting the NLS_DATE_LANGUAGE parameter, as shown in Listing 5-27.
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