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Now there is a question we commonly use this technique to maintain the parent child relation i.e we store all the entities in one tables with a parent_id column and all top most parents have 0 in the parent_id column this is a good and normalized technique i agree but there is a disadvantage also, it’s slow and inefficient. This is mainly caused by the recursion like for each parent we have to run the query again and again to make a tree

SELECT id FROM `table` WHERE parent_id=something

I have looked at the solutions some might try to do it with any programming language by running query again and again which makes a loads on server , Some have provided the stored procedure but that also involves the recursion.

So my question is can we do it with one database query for the tree(joins or subqueries) if we know the depth or if we don't know if it is possible so how can we get the top most parent(i.e parent_id=0) of any child if it is not possible then why this technique is so famous while it has the flaws or we have another solution for this? . i have added the sql fiddle but it only has the schema

FIDDLE

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1 Answer

What you are looking is simply not facilitated by MySQL. Common Table Expressions (CTE) is supported by several databases. @a_horse_with_no_name posted an answer naming those RDBMSs : http://dba.stackexchange.com/a/7150/877.

I have posted recursive Stored Procedures : Find highest level of a hierarchical field: with vs without CTEs . However, you emphasized not using any Stored Procedures. To do what you are asking does require Stored Procedures in MySQL.

Compromise Solution...

You will still need a Stored Procedure, but not using recursion. Using a simple loop, you can construct a self-join query and executed it dynamically. Given the depth of the tree you are looking for, here is such a Stored Procedure:

DELIMITER $$

DROP PROCEDURE IF EXISTS `dianuj`.`GetTopParentGivenDepth` $$
CREATE PROCEDURE `dianuj`.`GetTopParentGivenDepth` (GivenDepth INT)
BEGIN

    DECLARE x1,x2 INT;

    SET x = 0;
    SET y = 1;
    SET @SQ = 'SELECT DISTINCT A0.id FROM prarent A0';
    WHILE y < GivenDepth DO
        SET @SQ = CONCAT(@SQ,' INNER JOIN prarent A',y,' ON A',x,'.id = A',y,'.parent_id');
        SET x = y;
        SET y = x + 1;
    END WHILE;
    SET @SQ = CONCAT(@SQ,' WHERE A0.parent_id = 0');
    SELECT @SQ;
    PREPARE stmt FROM @SQ;
    EXECUTE stmt;
    DEALLOCATE PREPARE stmt;

END $$

DELIMITER ;

After loading your data into MySQL on my desktop, I ran the Stored Procedure with...

Depth 1

mysql> call GetTopParentGivenDepth(1);
+--------------------------------------------------------------+
| @SQLSTMT                                                     |
+--------------------------------------------------------------+
| SELECT DISTINCT A0.id FROM prarent A0 WHERE A0.parent_id = 0 |
+--------------------------------------------------------------+
1 row in set (0.00 sec)

+----+
| id |
+----+
|  1 |
|  2 |
|  3 |
+----+
3 rows in set (0.00 sec)

Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.00 sec)

mysql>

Depth 2

mysql> call GetTopParentGivenDepth(2);
+------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| @SQLSTMT                                                                                                   |
+------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| SELECT DISTINCT A0.id FROM prarent A0 INNER JOIN prarent A1 ON A0.id = A1.parent_id WHERE A0.parent_id = 0 |
+------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
1 row in set (0.00 sec)

+----+
| id |
+----+
|  3 |
|  2 |
+----+
2 rows in set (0.01 sec)

Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.01 sec)

mysql>

Depth 3 .. 6

mysql> call GetTopParentGivenDepth(3);
+----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| @SQLSTMT                                                                                                                                                 |
+----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| SELECT DISTINCT A0.id FROM prarent A0 INNER JOIN prarent A1 ON A0.id = A1.parent_id INNER JOIN prarent A2 ON A1.id = A2.parent_id WHERE A0.parent_id = 0 |
+----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
1 row in set (0.00 sec)

+----+
| id |
+----+
|  3 |
+----+
1 row in set (0.00 sec)

Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.00 sec)

mysql> call GetTopParentGivenDepth(4);
+--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| @SQLSTMT                                                                                                                                                                                               |
+--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| SELECT DISTINCT A0.id FROM prarent A0 INNER JOIN prarent A1 ON A0.id = A1.parent_id INNER JOIN prarent A2 ON A1.id = A2.parent_id INNER JOIN prarent A3 ON A2.id = A3.parent_id WHERE A0.parent_id = 0 |
+--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
1 row in set (0.00 sec)

+----+
| id |
+----+
|  3 |
+----+
1 row in set (0.00 sec)

Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.00 sec)

mysql> call GetTopParentGivenDepth(5);
+------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| @SQLSTMT                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             |
+------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| SELECT DISTINCT A0.id FROM prarent A0 INNER JOIN prarent A1 ON A0.id = A1.parent_id INNER JOIN prarent A2 ON A1.id = A2.parent_id INNER JOIN prarent A3 ON A2.id = A3.parent_id INNER JOIN prarent A4 ON A3.id = A4.parent_id WHERE A0.parent_id = 0 |
+------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
1 row in set (0.01 sec)

+----+
| id |
+----+
|  3 |
+----+
1 row in set (0.01 sec)

Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.01 sec)

mysql> call GetTopParentGivenDepth(6);
+----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| @SQLSTMT                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           |
+----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| SELECT DISTINCT A0.id FROM prarent A0 INNER JOIN prarent A1 ON A0.id = A1.parent_id INNER JOIN prarent A2 ON A1.id = A2.parent_id INNER JOIN prarent A3 ON A2.id = A3.parent_id INNER JOIN prarent A4 ON A3.id = A4.parent_id INNER JOIN prarent A5 ON A4.id = A5.parent_id WHERE A0.parent_id = 0 |
+----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
1 row in set (0.00 sec)

Empty set (0.00 sec)

Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.01 sec)

mysql>

Notice that Depth 6 has no return value. To find the maximum depth, you would have to iterate on it until no rows comes back.

CAVEAT

  • The worst case scenario would be to use the number of rows in the table as the depth. Such a tree would be nothing more than a degenerate linked list.
  • I cannot give you any guarantees on query performance, such on SQL construction and subsequent execution. Any kind of recursion would be the sole responsibility of the Query Parser.

Give it a Try !!!

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But there is a load factor that query will be executed multiple times which increases the load on server for each single user :( but i appreciate your effort +1 –  M Khalid Junaid Jul 15 '13 at 18:37
    
I guess that's true if you are looking for the maximum depth. For a given depth, you would have to live the performance of the one query. Thank you for the +1 !!! –  RolandoMySQLDBA Jul 15 '13 at 18:40
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