DBA Tips Archive for Oracle


What is the table DUAL used for?

by Jeff Hunter, Sr. Database Administrator


The table SYS.DUAL gets created for you when you create the database. DUAL is in the schema of the user SYS, but is accessible by the name DUAL to all users. It contains only ONE column, DUMMY (defined to be VARCHAR2(1)) and ONE record with a value 'X'. Oracle created this table since it makes some calculations valid and more convenient.

  • For example, you can use it for math:
        SELECT (2918/23)+130 FROM dual;
  • You can use it to increment sequences:
        SELECT emp_seq.NEXTVAL FROM dual;
  • You can use it to play around or test some SQL:
      SELECT chr(70) FROM dual;

    Avoiding problems with the DUAL table

    Note that DUAL can have more than one record. The kernel knows that DUAL is a single row single column table, but the PLSQL engine does not. This is important because things will break if it contains more than one. If you are running Oracle Applications, some patches dump multiple rows into the DUAL table. That is why the ADADMIN utility gives you options to check the dual table. It is highly recommend to do this.

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    Last modified on
    Thursday, 04-Feb-1999 00:00:00 EST
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