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Meaning of OUTER JOIN

Computing Dictionary

A less commonly used variant of the inner join relational database operation. An inner join selects rows from two tables such that the value in one column of the first table also appears in a certain column of the second table. For an outer join, the result also includes all rows from the first operand ("left outer join", "*="), or the second operand ("right outer join", "=*"), or both ("full outer join", "*=*"). A field in a result row will be null if the corresponding input table did not contain a matching row.

For example, if we want to list all employees and their employee number, but not all employees have a number, then we could say (in sql):

        SELECT employee.name, empnum.number
        WHERE employee.id *= empnum.id

The "*=" means "left outer join" and means that all rows from the "employee" table will appear in the result, even if there is no match for their ID in the empnum table.