WITH (Common Table Expressions)

Specifies a temporary named result set, referred to as a Common Table Expression (CTE).


Non-recursive (standard) CTE:

WITH cte [, ...]
expression_name[(column_name, ...)]


  • WITH clauses are supported as part of SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE, and REPLACE statements.

  • CTEs containing UNION/UNION ALL clauses are not materialized. For more information about materializing CTEs, see the WITH (Common Table Expressions) section below.

  • SingleStore supports only non-recursive CTEs. See recursive tree or graph expansion in a stored procedure or client application.

  • By default, SingleStore will always attempt to inline CTEs into the parent query; however, you can cache CTEs through materialization to improve the performance of certain complex queries. See Materializing Common Table Expressions for more information.

  • If a CTE defined in the WITH clause is not referenced in the SELECT statement, it does not affect the execution of the query.

  • The engine variable internal_max_cte_depth defines the maximum number of common table expressions (CTEs) that can be nested. The default value of this variable is 128.

  • The engine variable max_recursive_cte_iterations sets the maximum number of times the recursive case is executed.


Non-recursive CTEs:

(select col from myTable)
select col from myCTE;
WITH myCTE (colAlias) AS
(select col from myTable)
select colAlias from myCTE;
(select o_orderkey from orders),
lineitemCTE AS
(select l_orderkey from lineitem)
select count(*) from orderCTE join lineitemCTE on o_orderkey = l_orderkey;
(WITH bar AS
WITH EmpSal(averageSal) AS
(SELECT AVG(Salary) FROM Employee)
SELECT EmpID, Name, Salary FROM Employee, EmpSal
WHERE Employee.Salary > EmpSal.averageSal;
WITH ObjectCTE (Name, Id, Date) AS
(SELECT objname, objectid, invoicedate FROM Inventory)
INSERT INTO Itemlist(Name, objectid, createdDate)
SELECT Name, Id, Date FROM ObjectCTE;
SELECT * FROM Itemlist;

Materializing Common Table Expressions


The materialize_ctes variable is experimental and should not be enabled in production.

By using the variable materialize_ctes, common table expressions (CTEs) are materialized when queries with CTEs are run. The materialized results can then be referenced multiple times by the parent query. The CTE queries are cached, which results in optimized performance. This is particularly useful for running queries that contain an expensive CTE that produces a relatively small number of rows and is used two or more times.

Enable or disable this functionality by setting the materialize_ctes engine variable, or setting it per session via the MATERIALIZE_CTES session variable:


The following settings are available:

  • ALL: Each CTE that appears more than once in the query is materialized into an internal result table.

  • AUTO: . A suite of optimizations are enabled. Currently, only the Predicate Pushdown optimization is available.

  • OFF: This is the default value. CTEs are inlined, which is similar to VIEW definitions.

If users can't or don't want to use engine variables, the materialize_ctes engine variable can be set on a per query basis by adding an OPTION expression at the end of the query:

SELECT * FROM foo OPTION(materialize_ctes="OFF");
SELECT * FROM foo OPTION(materialize_ctes="AUTO");
SELECT * FROM foo OPTION(materialize_ctes="ALL");

Materialization can also be turned off per CTE:

WITH foo as (select with(materialize=off) * from titanic),
bar as (select * from titanic)
select * from foo, bar;


  • Materialized CTEs appear in the EXPLAIN as m_foo_i, where foo is the name of the CTE in the original query, and i is an integer value generated during name normalization.

  • The results table that is created from a materialized CTE is analogous to an intermediate results table that is created as part of a distributed join query.

  • Plans for queries with CTEs are cacheable regardless of the setting of the materialize_ctes variable.

  • Some SELECT statements may not be materializable. For example, selects with limits, selects with aggregates and no group by, and selects without FROM clauses cannot be materialized. All CTEs whose selects are non-materializable will get inlined with the parent query.

  • Non-recursive CTEs are not materialized if they contain a UNION/UNION ALL clause in any part of the query statement.

Predicate Pushdown

To avoid materializing unused rows, a rudimentary form of predicate pushdown in CTEs is supported. This optimization is enabled only when the materialize_ctes session variable is set to AUTO. An example of how a query is internally rewritten by SingleStore is shown below.

FROM foo, foo as bar
WHERE foo.a = 1 AND bar.b = 2;

is transformed to:

WITH foo AS (SELECT * FROM t WHERE t.a = 1 OR t.b = 2)
FROM foo, foo as bar
WHERE foo.a = 1 AND bar.b = 2;

Unlike normal predicate pushdown, the original top-level predicates remain.

Last modified: February 15, 2024

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