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Oracle case insensitive searches

Oracle Database Tips by Donald Burleson

Oracle and Case Insensitivity

In 10g release 2, we have the option of setting case insensitivity to function with the REGEXP_LIKE function.  Here we show how to take advantage of that powerful new feature.

Setting the Oracle Parameters for case insensitive searching

We need to set NLS_COMP=LINGUISTIC and NLS_SORT=BINARY_CI in order to use 10gR2 case insensitivity.  Since these are session modifiable, it is not as simple as setting them in the initialization parameters. 

We can set them in the initialization parameters but they then only affect the server and not the client side.  The following PL/SQL was used for a search screen:

execute immediate 'alter session set NLS_COMP=LINGUISTIC';

execute immediate  'alter session set NLS_SORT=BINARY_CI';

 Tuning for case insensitive queries:

Depending on the size of the table and type of queries, we may want to build linguistic indexes on the columns to allow case insensitive queries.  This is the sample code for an index:

create index

This is a great example of using case insensitive data inside Oracle and creating a case insensitive index to allow queries to me made in initcap, upper or lower, all without invalidating the index. 

Using regexp_like with case insensitive searches:

Here is this example of doing case insensitive searches with regexp_like.  This example of regular expressions such as using regexp_like to return case insensitive results: REGEXP_LIKE(name,'Suzy','i');
SQL> select name from names;

suzy smith
Suzy Smith
SQL> alter session set NLS_COMP=ANSI;
SQL> alter session set NLS_SORT=BINARY_CI;

SQL> select name from names where name = 'Suzy Smith'

suzy smith
Suzy Smith

So for our example of searching for 'Suzy' and having an NLS_SORT for case sensitive searching (NLS_SORT=BINARY) we could issue the following types of SELECT statements and get the following results:
SQL> select name from names where REGEXP_LIKE(name,'Suzy');

Suzy Smith

SQL> select name from names where REGEXP_LIKE(name,'Suzy','i');

suzy smith
Suzy Smith

Follow the link for information on Late Binding and Runtime Binding in PL/SQL.


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