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The PostgreSQL 9.0 Reference Manual - Volume 1A - SQL Language Reference
by The PostgreSQL Global Development Group
Paperback (6"x9"), 454 pages
ISBN 9781906966041
RRP £14.95 ($19.95)

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5.2.1.2 Table and Column Aliases

A temporary name can be given to tables and complex table references to be used for references to the derived table in the rest of the query. This is called a table alias.

To create a table alias, write

FROM table_reference AS alias

or

FROM table_reference alias

The AS key word is optional noise. alias can be any identifier.

A typical application of table aliases is to assign short identifiers to long table names to keep the join clauses readable. For example:

SELECT * FROM some_very_long_table_name s JOIN 
  another_fairly_long_name a ON s.id = a.num;

The alias becomes the new name of the table reference so far as the current query is concerned--it is not allowed to refer to the table by the original name elsewhere in the query. Thus, this is not valid:

SELECT * FROM my_table AS m WHERE my_table.a > 5;    -- wrong

Table aliases are mainly for notational convenience, but it is necessary to use them when joining a table to itself, e.g.:

SELECT * FROM people AS mother JOIN people AS child ON 
  mother.id = child.mother_id;

Additionally, an alias is required if the table reference is a subquery (see section 5.2.1.3 Subqueries).

Parentheses are used to resolve ambiguities. In the following example, the first statement assigns the alias b to the second instance of my_table, but the second statement assigns the alias to the result of the join:

SELECT * FROM my_table AS a CROSS JOIN my_table AS b ...
SELECT * FROM (my_table AS a CROSS JOIN my_table) AS b ...

Another form of table aliasing gives temporary names to the columns of the table, as well as the table itself:

FROM table_reference [AS] alias ( column1 [, column2 [, ...]] )

If fewer column aliases are specified than the actual table has columns, the remaining columns are not renamed. This syntax is especially useful for self-joins or subqueries.

When an alias is applied to the output of a JOIN clause, the alias hides the original name(s) within the JOIN. For example:

SELECT a.* FROM my_table AS a JOIN your_table AS b ON ...

is valid SQL, but:

SELECT a.* FROM (my_table AS a JOIN your_table AS b ON ...) AS c

is not valid; the table alias a is not visible outside the alias c.

ISBN 9781906966041The PostgreSQL 9.0 Reference Manual - Volume 1A - SQL Language ReferenceSee the print edition