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$ (projection)

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$

The positional $ operator limits the contents of an <array> to return the first element that matches the query condition on the array.

Use $ in the projection document of the find() method or the findOne() method when you only need one particular array element in selected documents.

See the aggregation operator $filter to return an array with only those elements that match the specified condition.

Note
Disambiguation

To specify an array element to update, see the positional $ operator for updates.

Both the $ operator and the $elemMatch operator project the first matching element from an array based on a condition.

The $ operator projects the first matching array element from each document in a collection based on some condition from the query statement.

The $elemMatch projection operator takes an explicit condition argument. This allows you to project based on a condition not in the query, or if you need to project based on multiple fields in the array's embedded documents. See Array Field Limitations for an example.

db.collection.find() operations on views do not support $ projection operator.

To return the first array element that matches the specified query condition on the array:

db.collection.find( { <array>: <condition> ... },
{ "<array>.$": 1 } )
db.collection.find( { <array.field>: <condition> ...},
{ "<array>.$": 1 } )

Changed in version 4.4: You can use the $ operator to limit an <array> field which does not appear in the query document. In previous versions of MongoDB, the <array> field being limited must appear in the query document.

db.collection.find( { <someOtherArray>: <condition> ... },
{ "<array>.$" : 1 } )
Important

To ensure expected behavior, the arrays used in the query document and the projection document must be the same length. If the arrays are different lenghts, the operation may error in certain scenarios.

MongoDB requires the following when dealing with projection over arrays:

  • Only one positional $ operator may appear in the projection document.
  • Only one array field should appear in the query document. Additional array fields in the query document may lead to undefined behavior.

    For example, the following projection may lead to undefined behavior:

    db.collection.find( { <array>: <value>, <someOtherArray>: <value2> },
    { "<array>.$": 1 } )
  • The query document should only contain a single condition on the array field to which it is applied. Multiple conditions may override each other internally and lead to undefined behavior.

    To specify criteria on multiple fields of documents inside that array, use the $elemMatch query operator. The following query returns the first document inside a grades array that has a mean of greater than 70 and a grade of greater than 90.

    db.students.find( { grades: { $elemMatch: {
    mean: { $gt: 70 },
    grade: { $gt:90 }
    } } },
    { "grades.$": 1 } )

    You must use the $elemMatch operator if you need separate conditions for selecting documents and for choosing fields within those documents.

When the find() method includes a sort(), the find() method applies the sort() to order the matching documents before it applies the positional $ projection operator.

If an array field contains multiple documents with the same field name and the find() method includes a sort() on that repeating field, the returned documents may not reflect the sort order because the sort was applied to the elements of the array before the $ projection operator.

Starting in MongoDB 4.4, the $ projection operator can only appear at the end of the field path; e.g. "field.$" or "fieldA.fieldB.$".

For example, starting in MongoDB 4.4, the following operation is invalid:

db.inventory.find( { }, { "instock.$.qty": 1 } ) // Invalid starting in 4.4

To resolve, remove the component of the field path that follows the $ projection operator.

In previous versions, MongoDB ignores the part of the path that follows the $; i.e. the projection is treated as "instock.$".

Starting in MongoDB 4.4, find and findAndModify projection cannot include $slice projection expression as part of a $ projection expression.

For example, starting in MongoDB 4.4, the following operation is invalid:

db.inventory.find( { "instock.qty": { $gt: 25 } }, { "instock.$": { $slice: 1 } } ) // Invalid starting in 4.4

MongoDB already has a restriction where top-level field names cannot start with the dollar sign ($).

In previous versions, MongoDB returns the first element (instock.$) in the instock array that matches the query condition; i.e. the positional projection "instock.$" takes precedence and the $slice:1 is a no-op. The "instock.$": { $slice: 1 } does not exclude any other document field.

A collection students contains the following documents:

{ "_id" : 1, "semester" : 1, "grades" : [ 70, 87, 90 ] }
{ "_id" : 2, "semester" : 1, "grades" : [ 90, 88, 92 ] }
{ "_id" : 3, "semester" : 1, "grades" : [ 85, 100, 90 ] }
{ "_id" : 4, "semester" : 2, "grades" : [ 79, 85, 80 ] }
{ "_id" : 5, "semester" : 2, "grades" : [ 88, 88, 92 ] }
{ "_id" : 6, "semester" : 2, "grades" : [ 95, 90, 96 ] }

In the following query, the projection { "grades.$": 1 } returns only the first element greater than or equal to 85 for the grades field.

db.students.find( { semester: 1, grades: { $gte: 85 } },
{ "grades.$": 1 } )

The operation returns the following documents:

{ "_id" : 1, "grades" : [ 87 ] }
{ "_id" : 2, "grades" : [ 90 ] }
{ "_id" : 3, "grades" : [ 85 ] }

Although the array field grades may contain multiple elements that are greater than or equal to 85, the $ projection operator returns only the first matching element from the array.

A students collection contains the following documents where the grades field is an array of documents; each document contain the three field names grade, mean, and std:

{ "_id" : 7, semester: 3, "grades" : [ { grade: 80, mean: 75, std: 8 },
{ grade: 85, mean: 90, std: 5 },
{ grade: 90, mean: 85, std: 3 } ] }
{ "_id" : 8, semester: 3, "grades" : [ { grade: 92, mean: 88, std: 8 },
{ grade: 78, mean: 90, std: 5 },
{ grade: 88, mean: 85, std: 3 } ] }

In the following query, the projection { "grades.$": 1 } returns only the first element with the mean greater than 70 for the grades field:

db.students.find(
{ "grades.mean": { $gt: 70 } },
{ "grades.$": 1 }
)

The operation returns the following documents:

{ "_id" : 7, "grades" : [ { "grade" : 80, "mean" : 75, "std" : 8 } ] }
{ "_id" : 8, "grades" : [ { "grade" : 92, "mean" : 88, "std" : 8 } ] }

$elemMatch (projection)

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On this page

  • Definition
  • Usage Considerations
  • Behavior
  • Examples
  • Further Reading