SQL functions are built into Oracle Database and are available for use in various appropriate SQL statements. SQL functions are different from userdefined functions written in PL/SQL.
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
If you call a SQL function with an argument of a datatype other than the datatype expected by the SQL function, then Oracle attempts to convert the argument to the expected datatype before performing the SQL function. If you call a SQL function with a null argument, then the SQL function automatically returns null. The only SQL functions that do not necessarily follow this behavior are CONCAT, NVL, and REPLACE.
In the syntax diagrams for SQL functions, arguments are indicated by their datatypes. When the parameter function appears in SQL syntax, replace it with one of the functions described in this section. Functions are grouped by the datatypes of their arguments and their return values.The syntax showing the categories of functions follows:
Function
Single Row Function
SingleRow Functions
Singlerow functions return a single result row for every row of a queried table or view. These functions can appear in select lists, WHERE clauses, START WITH and CONNECT BY clauses, and HAVING clauses.
Numeric Functions
Numeric functions accept numeric input and return numeric values. Most numeric functions that return NUMBER values that are accurate to 38 decimal digits. The transcendental functions COS, COSH, EXP, LN, LOG, SIN, SINH, SQRT, TAN, and TANH are accurate to 36 decimal digits. The transcendental functions ACOS, ASIN, ATAN, and ATAN2 are accurate to 30 decimal digits.
Numeric Functions Returning Character Values
Character functions that return character values return values of the same datatype as the input argument. The length of the value returned by the function is limited by the maximum length of the datatype returned.
 For functions that return CHAR or VARCHAR2, if the length of the return value exceeds the limit, then Oracle Database truncates it and returns the result without an error message.
 For functions that return CLOB values, if the length of the return values exceeds the limit, then Oracle raises an error and returns no data.
Numeric Functions Returning Character Values
Character functions that return number values can take as their argument any character datatype.
The character functions that return number values are: ASCII, INSTR, LENGTH, REGEXP_INSTR
Datetime Functions
Datetime functions operate on date (DATE), timestamp (TIMESTAMP, TIMESTAMP WITH TIME ZONE, and TIMESTAMP WITH LOCAL TIME ZONE), and interval (INTERVAL DAY TO SECOND, INTERVAL YEAR TO MONTH) values.
Some of the datetime functions were designed for the Oracle DATE datatype (ADD_MONTHS, CURRENT_DATE, LAST_DAY, NEW_TIME, and NEXT_DAY). If you provide a timestamp value as their argument, Oracle Database internally converts the input type to a DATE value and returns a DATE value. The exceptions are the MONTHS_BETWEEN function, which returns a number, and the ROUND and TRUNC functions, which do not accept timestamp or interval values at all.
The remaining datetime functions were designed to accept any of the three types of data (date, timestamp, and interval) and to return a value of one of these types.
Conversion Functions
Conversion functions convert a value from one datatype to another. Generally, the form of the function names follows the convention datatype TO datatype. The first datatype is the input datatype. The second datatype is the output datatype.
Collection Functions
The collection functions operate on nested tables and varrays.
Miscellaneous SingleRow Functions
These singlerow functions do not fall into any of the other singlerow function categories.
Aggregate Functions
Aggregate functions return a single result row based on groups of rows, rather than on single rows. Aggregate functions can appear in select lists and in ORDER BY and HAVING clauses. They are commonly used with the GROUP BY clause in a SELECT statement, where Oracle Database divides the rows of a queried table or view into groups. In a query containing a GROUP BY clause, the elements of the select list can be aggregate functions, GROUP BY expressions, constants, or expressions involving one of these. Oracle applies the aggregate functions to each group of rows and returns a single result row for each group.
If you omit the GROUP BY clause, then Oracle applies aggregate functions in the select list to all the rows in the queried table or view. You use aggregate functions in the HAVING clause to eliminate groups from the output based on the results of the aggregate functions, rather than on the values of the individual rows of the queried table or view.
Many (but not all) aggregate functions that take a single argument accept these clauses:
 DISTINCT causes an aggregate function to consider only distinct values of the argument expression.
 ALL causes an aggregate function to consider all values, including all duplicates.
All aggregate functions except COUNT(*) and GROUPING ignore nulls. You can use the NVL function in the argument to an aggregate function to substitute a value for a null. COUNT never returns null, but returns either a number or zero. For all the remaining aggregate functions, if the data set contains no rows, or contains only rows with nulls as arguments to the aggregate function, then the function returns null. You can nest aggregate functions.
Analytic Functions
Analytic functions compute an aggregate value based on a group of rows. They differ from aggregate functions in that they return multiple rows for each group. The group of rows is called a window and is defined by the analytic_clause. For each row, a sliding window of rows is defined. The window determines the range of rows used to perform the calculations for the current row. Window sizes can be based on either a physical number of rows or a logical interval such as time.
Analytic functions are the last set of operations performed in a query except for the final ORDER BY clause. All joins and all WHERE, GROUP BY, and HAVING clauses are completed before the analytic functions are processed. Therefore, analytic functions can appear only in the select list or ORDER BY clause.
Analytic functions are commonly used to compute cumulative, moving, centered, and reporting aggregates.
Analytic Function
Analytic Clause
Query Partition Clause
Order By Clause
Windowing Clause
