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How could I search for a specific pattern in a column?

For example, I like to get all user names that start with either letter A or B.

(btw: this is tagged oracle, but it might be interesting in other RDBMS as well).

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Perhaps the question should be re-titled since the solution does not require a regular expression. I added regular-expression as a tag. –  Leigh Riffel Jan 4 '11 at 14:24
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up vote 13 down vote accepted

Your question doesn't require regular expressions:

WHERE name LIKE 'A%' OR name LIKE 'B%'

For Oracle, there's REGEXP_LIKE; Postresql, there's SIMILAR TO; mysql has REGEXP. One thing to remember though is not all regular expression engines are the same, so just because they support regular expressions doesn't mean they necessarily support word boundry assertions, non-greedy quantifiers, or negative lookbehind assertions, etc.

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Thanks. In my case, that will do. I also found this to work: SELECT mname FROM names WHERE regexp_like(mname,'^[AB].*$'); –  Sebastian Roth Jan 4 '11 at 4:03
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All you really need is ^[AB] ... the .*$ is superfluous –  Joe Jan 4 '11 at 4:13
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