Make your own free website on Tripod.com
 
MySQL
-- Installation --
-- Getting Started --
-- Simple Queries --
--Database Intro--
-- More Queries --
-- Multiple Tables --
-- Using Batch Mode --
-- Using with PHP --

PHP
-- PHP and MySQL --
-- All PHP Content --
SEARCH Me

JamHitz Productions

Retrieving information from a table

The SELECT statement is used to pull information from a table. The general form of the statement is:

SELECT what_to_select
FROM which_table
WHERE conditions_to_satisfy

what_to_select indicates what you want to see. This can be a list of columns, or * to indicate "all columns.'' which_table indicates the table from which you want to retrieve data. The WHERE clause is optional. If it's present, conditions_to_satisfy specifies conditions that rows must satisfy to qualify for retrieval.

Selecting all data

The simplest form of SELECT retrieves everything from a table:

mysql> SELECT * FROM pet;
+----------+--------+---------+------+------------+------------+
| name     | owner  | species | sex  | birth      | death      |
+----------+--------+---------+------+------------+------------+
| Fluffy   | Harold | cat     | f    | 1993-02-04 | NULL       |
| Claws    | Gwen   | cat     | m    | 1994-03-17 | NULL       |
| Buffy    | Harold | dog     | f    | 1989-05-13 | NULL       |
| Fang     | Benny  | dog     | m    | 1990-08-27 | NULL       |
| Bowser   | Diane  | dog     | m    | 1998-08-31 | 1995-07-29 |
| Chirpy   | Gwen   | bird    | f    | 1998-09-11 | NULL       |
| Whistler | Gwen   | bird    | NULL | 1997-12-09 | NULL       |
| Slim     | Benny  | snake   | m    | 1996-04-29 | NULL       |
| Puffball | Diane  | hamster | f    | 1999-03-30 | NULL       |
+----------+--------+---------+------+------------+------------+

This form of SELECT is useful if you want to review your entire table, for instance, after you've just loaded it with your initial dataset. As it happens, the output just shown reveals an error in your data file: Bowser appears to have been born after he died! Consulting your original pedigree papers, you find that the correct birth year is 1989, not 1998.

There are are least a couple of ways to fix this:

  • Edit the file `pet.txt' to correct the error, then empty the table and reload it using DELETE and LOAD DATA:
mysql> SET AUTOCOMMIT=1;  # Used for quick recreate of the table
mysql> DELETE FROM pet;
mysql> LOAD DATA LOCAL INFILE "pet.txt" INTO TABLE pet;

However, if you do this, you must also re-enter the record for Puffball.

  • Fix only the erroneous record with an UPDATE statement:
mysql> UPDATE pet SET birth = "1989-08-31" WHERE name = "Bowser";

As shown above, it is easy to retrieve an entire table. But typically you don't want to do that, particularly when the table becomes large. Instead, you're usually more interested in answering a particular question, in which case you specify some constraints on the information you want. Let's look at some selection queries in terms of questions about your pets that they answer.

Selecting particular rows

You can select only particular rows from your table. For example, if you want to verify the change that you made to Bowser's birth date, select Bowser's record like this:

mysql> SELECT * FROM pet WHERE name = "Bowser";
+--------+-------+---------+------+------------+------------+
| name   | owner | species | sex  | birth      | death      |
+--------+-------+---------+------+------------+------------+
| Bowser | Diane | dog     | m    | 1989-08-31 | 1995-07-29 |
+--------+-------+---------+------+------------+------------+

The output confirms that the year is correctly recorded now as 1989, not 1998.

String comparisons are normally case-insensitive, so you can specify the name as "bowser", "BOWSER", etc. The query result will be the same.

You can specify conditions on any column, not just name. For example, if you want to know which animals were born after 1998, test the birth column:

mysql> SELECT * FROM pet WHERE birth >= "1998-1-1";
+----------+-------+---------+------+------------+-------+
| name     | owner | species | sex  | birth      | death |
+----------+-------+---------+------+------------+-------+
| Chirpy   | Gwen  | bird    | f    | 1998-09-11 | NULL  |
| Puffball | Diane | hamster | f    | 1999-03-30 | NULL  |
+----------+-------+---------+------+------------+-------+

You can combine conditions, for example, to locate female dogs:

mysql> SELECT * FROM pet WHERE species = "dog" AND sex = "f";
+-------+--------+---------+------+------------+-------+
| name  | owner  | species | sex  | birth      | death |
+-------+--------+---------+------+------------+-------+
| Buffy | Harold | dog     | f    | 1989-05-13 | NULL  |
+-------+--------+---------+------+------------+-------+

The preceding query uses the AND logical operator. There is also an OR operator:

mysql> SELECT * FROM pet WHERE species = "snake" OR species = "bird";
+----------+-------+---------+------+------------+-------+
| name     | owner | species | sex  | birth      | death |
+----------+-------+---------+------+------------+-------+
| Chirpy   | Gwen  | bird    | f    | 1998-09-11 | NULL  |
| Whistler | Gwen  | bird    | NULL | 1997-12-09 | NULL  |
| Slim     | Benny | snake   | m    | 1996-04-29 | NULL  |
+----------+-------+---------+------+------------+-------+

AND and OR may be intermixed. If you do that, it's a good idea to use parentheses to indicate how conditions should be grouped:

mysql> SELECT * FROM pet WHERE (species = "cat" AND sex = "m")
    -> OR (species = "dog" AND sex = "f");
+-------+--------+---------+------+------------+-------+
| name  | owner  | species | sex  | birth      | death |
+-------+--------+---------+------+------------+-------+
| Claws | Gwen   | cat     | m    | 1994-03-17 | NULL  |
| Buffy | Harold | dog     | f    | 1989-05-13 | NULL  |
+-------+--------+---------+------+------------+-------+

Selecting particular columns

If you don't want to see entire rows from your table, just name the columns in which you're interested, separated by commas. For example, if you want to know when your animals were born, select the name and birth columns:

mysql> SELECT name, birth FROM pet;
+----------+------------+
| name     | birth      |
+----------+------------+
| Fluffy   | 1993-02-04 |
| Claws    | 1994-03-17 |
| Buffy    | 1989-05-13 |
| Fang     | 1990-08-27 |
| Bowser   | 1989-08-31 |
| Chirpy   | 1998-09-11 |
| Whistler | 1997-12-09 |
| Slim     | 1996-04-29 |
| Puffball | 1999-03-30 |
+----------+------------+

To find out who owns pets, use this query:

mysql> SELECT owner FROM pet;
+--------+
| owner  |
+--------+
| Harold |
| Gwen   |
| Harold |
| Benny  |
| Diane  |
| Gwen   |
| Gwen   |
| Benny  |
| Diane  |
+--------+

However, notice that the query simply retrieves the owner field from each record, and some of them appear more than once. To minimize the output, retrieve each unique output record just once by adding the keyword DISTINCT:

mysql> SELECT DISTINCT owner FROM pet;
+--------+
| owner  |
+--------+
| Benny  |
| Diane  |
| Gwen   |
| Harold |
+--------+

You can use a WHERE clause to combine row selection with column selection. For example, to get birth dates for dogs and cats only, use this query:

mysql> SELECT name, species, birth FROM pet
    -> WHERE species = "dog" OR species = "cat";
+--------+---------+------------+
| name   | species | birth      |
+--------+---------+------------+
| Fluffy | cat     | 1993-02-04 |
| Claws  | cat     | 1994-03-17 |
| Buffy  | dog     | 1989-05-13 |
| Fang   | dog     | 1990-08-27 |
| Bowser | dog     | 1989-08-31 |
+--------+---------+------------+

Sorting rows

You may have noticed in the preceding examples that the result rows are displayed in no particular order. However, it's often easier to examine query output when the rows are sorted in some meaningful way. To sort a result, use an ORDER BY clause.

Here are animal birthdays, sorted by date:

mysql> SELECT name, birth FROM pet ORDER BY birth;
+----------+------------+
| name     | birth      |
+----------+------------+
| Buffy    | 1989-05-13 |
| Bowser   | 1989-08-31 |
| Fang     | 1990-08-27 |
| Fluffy   | 1993-02-04 |
| Claws    | 1994-03-17 |
| Slim     | 1996-04-29 |
| Whistler | 1997-12-09 |
| Chirpy   | 1998-09-11 |
| Puffball | 1999-03-30 |
+----------+------------+

To sort in reverse order, add the DESC (descending) keyword to the name of the column you are sorting by:

mysql> SELECT name, birth FROM pet ORDER BY birth DESC;
+----------+------------+
| name     | birth      |
+----------+------------+
| Puffball | 1999-03-30 |
| Chirpy   | 1998-09-11 |
| Whistler | 1997-12-09 |
| Slim     | 1996-04-29 |
| Claws    | 1994-03-17 |
| Fluffy   | 1993-02-04 |
| Fang     | 1990-08-27 |
| Bowser   | 1989-08-31 |
| Buffy    | 1989-05-13 |
+----------+------------+

You can sort on multiple columns. For example, to sort by type of animal, then by birth date within animal type with youngest animals first, use the following query:

mysql> SELECT name, species, birth FROM pet ORDER BY species, birth DESC;
+----------+---------+------------+
| name     | species | birth      |
+----------+---------+------------+
| Chirpy   | bird    | 1998-09-11 |
| Whistler | bird    | 1997-12-09 |
| Claws    | cat     | 1994-03-17 |
| Fluffy   | cat     | 1993-02-04 |
| Fang     | dog     | 1990-08-27 |
| Bowser   | dog     | 1989-08-31 |
| Buffy    | dog     | 1989-05-13 |
| Puffball | hamster | 1999-03-30 |
| Slim     | snake   | 1996-04-29 |
+----------+---------+------------+

Note that the DESC keyword applies only to the column name immediately preceding it (birth); species values are still sorted in ascending order.

Date calculations

MySQL provides several functions that you can use to perform calculations on dates, for example, to calculate ages or extract parts of dates.

To determine how many years old each of your pets is, compute age as the difference between the birth date and the current date. Do this by converting the two dates to days, take the difference, and divide by 365 (the number of days in a year):

mysql> SELECT name, (TO_DAYS(NOW())-TO_DAYS(birth))/365 FROM pet;
+----------+-------------------------------------+
| name     | (TO_DAYS(NOW())-TO_DAYS(birth))/365 |
+----------+-------------------------------------+
| Fluffy   |                                6.15 |
| Claws    |                                5.04 |
| Buffy    |                                9.88 |
| Fang     |                                8.59 |
| Bowser   |                                9.58 |
| Chirpy   |                                0.55 |
| Whistler |                                1.30 |
| Slim     |                                2.92 |
| Puffball |                                0.00 |
+----------+-------------------------------------+

Although the query works, there are some things about it that could be improved. First, the result could be scanned more easily if the rows were presented in some order. Second, the heading for the age column isn't very meaningful.

The first problem can be handled by adding an ORDER BY name clause to sort the output by name. To deal with the column heading, provide a name for the column so that a different label appears in the output (this is called a column alias):

mysql> SELECT name, (TO_DAYS(NOW())-TO_DAYS(birth))/365 AS age
    -> FROM pet ORDER BY name;
+----------+------+
| name     | age  |
+----------+------+
| Bowser   | 9.58 |
| Buffy    | 9.88 |
| Chirpy   | 0.55 |
| Claws    | 5.04 |
| Fang     | 8.59 |
| Fluffy   | 6.15 |
| Puffball | 0.00 |
| Slim     | 2.92 |
| Whistler | 1.30 |
+----------+------+

To sort the output by age rather than name, just use a different ORDER BY clause:

mysql>  SELECT name, (TO_DAYS(NOW())-TO_DAYS(birth))/365 AS age
    ->  FROM pet ORDER BY age;
+----------+------+
| name     | age  |
+----------+------+
| Puffball | 0.00 |
| Chirpy   | 0.55 |
| Whistler | 1.30 |
| Slim     | 2.92 |
| Claws    | 5.04 |
| Fluffy   | 6.15 |
| Fang     | 8.59 |
| Bowser   | 9.58 |
| Buffy    | 9.88 |
+----------+------+

A similar query can be used to determine age at death for animals that have died. You determine which animals these are by checking whether or not the death value is NULL. Then, for those with non-NULL values, compute the difference between the death and birth values:

mysql>  SELECT name, birth, death, (TO_DAYS(death)-TO_DAYS(birth))/365 AS age
    ->  FROM pet WHERE death IS NOT NULL ORDER BY age;
+--------+------------+------------+------+
| name   | birth      | death      | age  |
+--------+------------+------------+------+
| Bowser | 1989-08-31 | 1995-07-29 | 5.91 |
+--------+------------+------------+------+

The query uses death IS NOT NULL rather than death != NULL because NULL is a special value. This is explained later.

What if you want to know which animals have birthdays next month? For this type of calculation, year and day are irrelevant, you simply want to extract the month part of the birth column. MySQL provides several date-part extraction functions, such as YEAR(), MONTH() and DAYOFMONTH(). MONTH() is the appropriate function here. To see how it works, run a simple query that displays the value of both birth and MONTH(birth):

mysql> SELECT name, birth, MONTH(birth) FROM pet;
+----------+------------+--------------+
| name     | birth      | MONTH(birth) |
+----------+------------+--------------+
| Fluffy   | 1993-02-04 |            2 |
| Claws    | 1994-03-17 |            3 |
| Buffy    | 1989-05-13 |            5 |
| Fang     | 1990-08-27 |            8 |
| Bowser   | 1989-08-31 |            8 |
| Chirpy   | 1998-09-11 |            9 |
| Whistler | 1997-12-09 |           12 |
| Slim     | 1996-04-29 |            4 |
| Puffball | 1999-03-30 |            3 |
+----------+------------+--------------+

Finding animals with birthdays in the upcoming month is easy, too. Suppose the current month is April. Then the month value is 4 and you look for animals born in May (month 5) like this:

mysql> SELECT name, birth FROM pet WHERE MONTH(birth) = 5;
+-------+------------+
| name  | birth      |
+-------+------------+
| Buffy | 1989-05-13 |
+-------+------------+

There is a small complication if the current month is December, of course. You don't just add one to the month number (12) and look for animals born in month 13, because there is no such month. Instead, you look for animals born in January (month 1).

You can even write the query so that it works no matter what the current month is. That way you don't have to use a particular month number in the query. DATE_ADD() allows you to add a time interval to a given date. If you add a month to the value of NOW(), then extract the month part with MONTH(), the result produces the month in which to look for birthdays:

mysql> SELECT name, birth FROM pet
    -> WHERE MONTH(birth) = MONTH(DATE_ADD(NOW(), INTERVAL 1 MONTH));

A different way to accomplish the same task is to add 1 to get the next month after the current one (after using the modulo function (MOD) to "wrap around'' the month value to 0 if it is currently 12):

mysql> SELECT name, birth FROM pet
    -> WHERE MONTH(birth) = MOD(MONTH(NOW()), 12) + 1;

Note that MONTH return a number between 1 and 12. And MOD(something,12) returns a number between 0 and 11. So the addition has to be after the MOD() oterwise we would go from November (11) to January (1).

Working with NULL values

The NULL value can be surprising until you get used to it. Conceptually, NULL means "missing value'' or "unknown value'' and it is treated somewhat differently than other values. To test for NULL, you cannot use the arithmetic comparison operators such as =, < or !=. To demonstrate this for yourself, try the following query:

mysql> SELECT 1 = NULL, 1 != NULL, 1 < NULL, 1 > NULL;
+----------+-----------+----------+----------+
| 1 = NULL | 1 != NULL | 1 < NULL | 1 > NULL |
+----------+-----------+----------+----------+
|     NULL |      NULL |     NULL |     NULL |
+----------+-----------+----------+----------+

Clearly you get no meaningful results from these comparisons. Use the IS NULL and IS NOT NULL operators instead:

mysql> SELECT 1 IS NULL, 1 IS NOT NULL;
+-----------+---------------+
| 1 IS NULL | 1 IS NOT NULL |
+-----------+---------------+
|         0 |             1 |
+-----------+---------------+

In MySQL, 0 means false and 1 means true.

This special treatment of NULL is why, in the previous section, it was necessary to determine which animals are no longer alive using death IS NOT NULL instead of death != NULL.

Pattern matching

MySQL provides standard SQL pattern matching as well as a form of pattern matching based on extended regular expressions similar to those used by Unix utilities such as vi, grep and sed.

SQL pattern matching allows you to use `_' to match any single character, and `%' to match an arbitrary number of characters (including zero characters). In MySQL, SQL patterns are case insensitive by default. Some examples are shown below. Note that you do not use = or != when you use SQL patterns; use the LIKE or NOT LIKE comparison operators instead.

To find names beginning with `b':

mysql> SELECT * FROM pet WHERE name LIKE "b%";
+--------+--------+---------+------+------------+------------+
| name   | owner  | species | sex  | birth      | death      |
+--------+--------+---------+------+------------+------------+
| Buffy  | Harold | dog     | f    | 1989-05-13 | NULL       |
| Bowser | Diane  | dog     | m    | 1989-08-31 | 1995-07-29 |
+--------+--------+---------+------+------------+------------+

To find names ending with `fy':

mysql> SELECT * FROM pet WHERE name LIKE "%fy";
+--------+--------+---------+------+------------+-------+
| name   | owner  | species | sex  | birth      | death |
+--------+--------+---------+------+------------+-------+
| Fluffy | Harold | cat     | f    | 1993-02-04 | NULL  |
| Buffy  | Harold | dog     | f    | 1989-05-13 | NULL  |
+--------+--------+---------+------+------------+-------+

To find names containing a `w':

mysql> SELECT * FROM pet WHERE name LIKE "%w%";
+----------+-------+---------+------+------------+------------+
| name     | owner | species | sex  | birth      | death      |
+----------+-------+---------+------+------------+------------+
| Claws    | Gwen  | cat     | m    | 1994-03-17 | NULL       |
| Bowser   | Diane | dog     | m    | 1989-08-31 | 1995-07-29 |
| Whistler | Gwen  | bird    | NULL | 1997-12-09 | NULL       |
+----------+-------+---------+------+------------+------------+

To find names containing exactly five characters, use the `_' pattern character:

mysql> SELECT * FROM pet WHERE name LIKE "_____";
+-------+--------+---------+------+------------+-------+
| name  | owner  | species | sex  | birth      | death |
+-------+--------+---------+------+------------+-------+
| Claws | Gwen   | cat     | m    | 1994-03-17 | NULL  |
| Buffy | Harold | dog     | f    | 1989-05-13 | NULL  |
+-------+--------+---------+------+------------+-------+

The other type of pattern matching provided by MySQL uses extended regular expressions. When you test for a match for this type of pattern, use the REGEXP and NOT REGEXP operators (or RLIKE and NOT RLIKE, which are synonyms).

Some characteristics of extended regular expressions are:

  • `.' matches any single character.
  • A character class `[...]' matches any character within the brackets. For example, `[abc]' matches `a', `b' or `c'. To name a range of characters, use a dash. `[a-z]' matches any lowercase letter, whereas `[0-9]' matches any digit.
  • `*' matches zero or more instances of the thing preceding it. For example, `x*' matches any number of `x' characters, `[0-9]*' matches any number of digits, and `.*' matches any number of anything.
  • Regular expressions are case sensitive, but you can use a character class to match both lettercases if you wish. For example, `[aA]' matches lowercase or uppercase `a' and `[a-zA-Z]' matches any letter in either case.
  • The pattern matches if it occurs anywhere in the value being tested (SQL patterns match only if they match the entire value).
  • To anchor a pattern so that it must match the beginning or end of the value being tested, use `^' at the beginning or `$' at the end of the pattern.

To demonstrate how extended regular expressions work, the LIKE queries shown above are rewritten below to use REGEXP:

To find names beginning with `b', use `^' to match the beginning of the name and `[bB]' to match either lowercase or uppercase `b':

mysql> SELECT * FROM pet WHERE name REGEXP "^[bB]";
+--------+--------+---------+------+------------+------------+
| name   | owner  | species | sex  | birth      | death      |
+--------+--------+---------+------+------------+------------+
| Buffy  | Harold | dog     | f    | 1989-05-13 | NULL       |
| Bowser | Diane  | dog     | m    | 1989-08-31 | 1995-07-29 |
+--------+--------+---------+------+------------+------------+

To find names ending with `fy', use `$' to match the end of the name:

mysql> SELECT * FROM pet WHERE name REGEXP "fy$";
+--------+--------+---------+------+------------+-------+
| name   | owner  | species | sex  | birth      | death |
+--------+--------+---------+------+------------+-------+
| Fluffy | Harold | cat     | f    | 1993-02-04 | NULL  |
| Buffy  | Harold | dog     | f    | 1989-05-13 | NULL  |
+--------+--------+---------+------+------------+-------+

To find names containing a `w', use `[wW]' to match either lowercase or uppercase `w':

mysql> SELECT * FROM pet WHERE name REGEXP "[wW]";
+----------+-------+---------+------+------------+------------+
| name     | owner | species | sex  | birth      | death      |
+----------+-------+---------+------+------------+------------+
| Claws    | Gwen  | cat     | m    | 1994-03-17 | NULL       |
| Bowser   | Diane | dog     | m    | 1989-08-31 | 1995-07-29 |
| Whistler | Gwen  | bird    | NULL | 1997-12-09 | NULL       |
+----------+-------+---------+------+------------+------------+

Because a regular expression pattern matches if it occurs anywhere in the value, it is not necessary in the previous query to put a wildcard on either side of the pattern to get it to match the entire value like it would be if you used a SQL pattern.

To find names containing exactly five characters, use `^' and `$' to match the beginning and end of the name, and five instances of `.' in between:

mysql> SELECT * FROM pet WHERE name REGEXP "^.....$";
+-------+--------+---------+------+------------+-------+
| name  | owner  | species | sex  | birth      | death |
+-------+--------+---------+------+------------+-------+
| Claws | Gwen   | cat     | m    | 1994-03-17 | NULL  |
| Buffy | Harold | dog     | f    | 1989-05-13 | NULL  |
+-------+--------+---------+------+------------+-------+

You could also write the previous query using the `{n}' "repeat-n-times'' operator:

mysql> SELECT * FROM pet WHERE name REGEXP "^.{5}$";
+-------+--------+---------+------+------------+-------+
| name  | owner  | species | sex  | birth      | death |
+-------+--------+---------+------+------------+-------+
| Claws | Gwen   | cat     | m    | 1994-03-17 | NULL  |
| Buffy | Harold | dog     | f    | 1989-05-13 | NULL  |
+-------+--------+---------+------+------------+-------+

Counting rows

Databases are often used to answer the question, "How often does a certain type of data occur in a table?'' For example, you might want to know how many pets you have, or how many pets each owner has, or you might want to perform various kinds of censuses on your animals.

Counting the total number of animals you have is the same question as "How many rows are in the pet table?,'' because there is one record per pet. The COUNT() function counts the number of non-NULL results, so the query to count your animals looks like this:

mysql> SELECT COUNT(*) FROM pet;
+----------+
| COUNT(*) |
+----------+
|        9 |
+----------+

Earlier, you retrieved the names of the people who owned pets. You can use COUNT() if you want to find out how many pets each owner has:

mysql> SELECT owner, COUNT(*) FROM pet GROUP BY owner;
+--------+----------+
| owner  | COUNT(*) |
+--------+----------+
| Benny  |        2 |
| Diane  |        2 |
| Gwen   |        3 |
| Harold |        2 |
+--------+----------+

Note the use of GROUP BY to group together all records for each owner. Without it, all you get is an error message:

mysql> SELECT owner, COUNT(owner) FROM pet;
ERROR 1140 at line 1: Mixing of GROUP columns (MIN(),MAX(),COUNT()...)
with no GROUP columns is illegal if there is no GROUP BY clause

COUNT() and GROUP BY are useful for characterizing your data in various ways. The following examples show different ways to perform animal census operations.

Number of animals per species:

mysql> SELECT species, COUNT(*) FROM pet GROUP BY species;
+---------+----------+
| species | COUNT(*) |
+---------+----------+
| bird    |        2 |
| cat     |        2 |
| dog     |        3 |
| hamster |        1 |
| snake   |        1 |
+---------+----------+

Number of animals per sex:

mysql> SELECT sex, COUNT(*) FROM pet GROUP BY sex;
+------+----------+
| sex  | COUNT(*) |
+------+----------+
| NULL |        1 |
| f    |        4 |
| m    |        4 |
+------+----------+

(In this output, NULL indicates "sex unknown.'')

Number of animals per combination of species and sex:

mysql> SELECT species, sex, COUNT(*) FROM pet GROUP BY species, sex;
+---------+------+----------+
| species | sex  | COUNT(*) |
+---------+------+----------+
| bird    | NULL |        1 |
| bird    | f    |        1 |
| cat     | f    |        1 |
| cat     | m    |        1 |
| dog     | f    |        1 |
| dog     | m    |        2 |
| hamster | f    |        1 |
| snake   | m    |        1 |
+---------+------+----------+

You need not retrieve an entire table when you use COUNT(). For example, the previous query, when performed just on dogs and cats, looks like this:

mysql> SELECT species, sex, COUNT(*) FROM pet
    -> WHERE species = "dog" OR species = "cat"
    -> GROUP BY species, sex;
+---------+------+----------+
| species | sex  | COUNT(*) |
+---------+------+----------+
| cat     | f    |        1 |
| cat     | m    |        1 |
| dog     | f    |        1 |
| dog     | m    |        2 |
+---------+------+----------+

Or, if you wanted the number of animals per sex only for known-sex animals:

mysql> SELECT species, sex, COUNT(*) FROM pet
    -> WHERE sex IS NOT NULL
    -> GROUP BY species, sex;
+---------+------+----------+
| species | sex  | COUNT(*) |
+---------+------+----------+
| bird    | f    |        1 |
| cat     | f    |        1 |
| cat     | m    |        1 |
| dog     | f    |        1 |
| dog     | m    |        2 |
| hamster | f    |        1 |
| snake   | m    |        1 |
+---------+------+----------+


Extracted from the MySQL Documentation