Mysql | User-defind Variables

Mysql also supports the concept of User-defined variables, which allows passing of a value from one statement to another. A user-defined variable in Mysql is written as @var_name where, var_name is the name of variable and can consist of alphanumeric characters, ., _, and $.

  • A user-defined variable is session specific i.e variable defined by one client is not shared to other client and when the session ends these variables are automatically expired.
  • These variables are not case-sensitive. So, @mark or @Mark both refer to same value.
  • Maximum length of variables can be 64 characters.
  • Variable name can include other characters like- {!, #, ^, -, ..} in its name, if they are quoted. For ex- @'var@1' or @"var^2" or @`var3`.
  • These variables can’t be declared, they are only initialized i.e at time of declaration they ahould be assigned a value.
  • An undeclared variable can also be accessed in a SQL statement but their values is set as NULL.
  • These variables can take values from the following set of datatypes- { integer, floating-point, decimal, binary, nonbinary string or NULL value.


SET @var_name = expression 


  1. Assigning value to variable using SET command.
    mysql>SET @var1 = 2+6;
    mysql>SET @var2 := @var1-2;

    Values of these variables can be displayed by referring them in SELECT statement-

    mysql>SELECT @var1, @var2;


    | @var1 | @var2 |
    |   8   |   6   |
  2. Accessing a undeclared variable

    mysql>SELECT @var3;


    | @var3 | 
    |  NULL |  

    Here, varialbe @var3 is undeclared so its default value is NULL.

  3. Assigning value to variable without using SET.

    mysql>SELECT @var3 := 4;


    | @var3:=4 | 
    |    4     |  

    In the above example- the variable @var3 should be assigned value using only := not =, the latter is treated as comparison in non-SET statement. Like-

    mysql>SELECT @var4 = 5;


    | @var4=5  | 
    |   NULL   |  
  4. How these variables are used for storing values, that are used in future.

    Consider, the following Student table-

    s_id s_name mark
    1 shagun 15
    2 taruna 5
    3 riya 15
    4 palak 10
    5 neha 7
    6 garima 17

    Now, we have to find rank of these students by using user-defined variables.

    For this, we initialize two variables- @rank and @prev_mark.

    mysql>SET @rank=0, @prev_mark=0;


    mysql>Select s_name, if (@prev_mark != mark, @rank:=@rank+1, @rank) as 'rank',
                        @prev_mark:=mark as 'marks' from student order by mark desc;

    Here, variable @rank is used to store the rank of student and @prev_mark is used to store the marks of previous student marks.

    Comparison between marks is made so that in case if two students are having equal marks then increment in @rank variable can be avoided.

    Changes in both variables take place after student table is sorted in descending order by “mark” column.


    s_name rank marks
    garima 1 17
    shagun 2 15
    riya 2 15
    palak 3 10
    neha 4 7
    taruna 5 5

    Thus, we get the resulted student table sorted by “marks” column in descending order along with rank of students.

    Note: In the above query, take care of order of column in select statement. If “marks” column is written before “rank” column then we don’t get desired output. Because every time @prev_mark is assigned the mark of current student which results evaluation @prev_mark!=mark as false. So, the rank of every student is displayed as non-incremented i.e it will remain as 0.

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