Explain the select operation in relational algebra (DBMS)?

Query is a question or requesting information. Query language is a language which is used to retrieve information from a database.

Query language is divided into two types −

  • Procedural language

  • Non-procedural language

Procedural language

Information is retrieved from the database by specifying the sequence of operations to be performed.

For Example − Relational algebra.

Structure Query language (SQL) is based on relational algebra.

Relational algebra consists of a set of operations that take one or two relations as an input and produces a new relation as output.

Types of Relational Algebra operations

The different types of relational algebra operations are as follows −

  • Select operation

  • Project operation

  • Rename operation

  • Union operation

  • Intersection operation

  • Difference operation

  • Cartesian product operation

  • Join operation

  • Division operation

Select, project, rename comes under unary operation (operate on one table).

Select operation

It displays the records that satisfy a condition. It is denoted by sigma (σ) and is a horizontal subset of the original relation.


Its syntax is as follows −

σcondition(table name)


Consider the student table given below −


Now, to display all the records of student table, we will use the following command −


In addition to this, when we have to display all the records of CSE branch in student table, we will use the following command −


Hence, the result will be as follows −


To display all the records in student tables whose regno>2, we will use the below mentioned command −


The output will be as follows −


To display the record of ECE branch section B students, use the given command −

σbranch=ECE ^ section=B(student)

To display the records of section B CSE and IT branch, use the following command −

σSection=B ^ Branch=cse ∨ branch=IT(student)

Consider the EMPLOYEE TABLE as another example to know about selection operations.

Retrieve information about those employees whose salary is greater than 20,000

  • If one condition is specified then, we can use the following command −

σ salary > 20,000 (emp)
  • If more than one condition specified in the query then ( AND: ^, OR:∨ , Not:#, equal: =, >, <, >=, <=)

Relational operator will be used to combine the multiple conditions into a single statement.

Example − In order to retrieve the information of those employee whose salary > 20,000 and working in HOD and Dept no is 20, we can use the following command −

σ salary > 20,000 ^LOC=HOD ^Deptno=20(emp)