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Jeroen W. Pluimers on .NET, C#, Delphi, databases, and personal interests

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SQL: “where not exists … having” formulation; anti-join alternative

Posted by jpluimers on 2018/06/26

I need to write up some notes, but there are some links that will help me:

It’s a question of readability. There is no difference in performance.
Old versions of SQL Server were silly enough to look up meta data, but not any more.

SELECT foo FROM bar WHERE EXISTS (SELECT * FROM baz WHERE baz.id = bar.id);
SELECT foo FROM bar WHERE EXISTS (SELECT 1 FROM baz WHERE baz.id = bar.id);

I am not considering NULL or “fun variants” which don’t seem intuitive to me.

SELECT foo FROM bar WHERE EXISTS (SELECT NULL FROM baz WHERE baz.id = bar.id);

SELECT foo FROM bar WHERE EXISTS (SELECT 1/0 FROM baz WHERE baz.id = bar.id);

The question popped up in comments just now. I researched the manuals of the most popular RDBMS:

A search on SO for code:"EXISTS (SELECT 1" yields 5,048 results.
A search on SO for code:"EXISTS (SELECT *" yields 5,154 results.
Updated links and counts 07.2015.

So SELECT * has the popular vote and the big commercial RDBMS on its side.
I find SELECT 1 more intuitive. It’s like saying “if at least one exists”.
Is SELECT * more intuitive?

–jeroen

 

 

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