A cursor is a temporary work area created in the system memory when a SQL statement is executed. A cursor contains information on a select statement and the rows of data accessed by it.
This temporary work area is used to store the data retrieved from the database, and manipulate this data. A cursor can hold more than one row, but can process only one row at a time. The set of rows the cursor holds is called the active set.
There are two types of cursors in PL/SQL:
These are created by default when DML statements like, INSERT, UPDATE, and DELETE statements are executed. They are also created when a SELECT statement that returns just one row is executed.
They must be created when you are executing a SELECT statement that returns more than one row. Even though the cursor stores multiple records, only one record can be processed at a time, which is called as current row. When you fetch a row the current row position moves to next row.
Both implicit and explicit cursors have the same functionality, but they differ in the way they are accessed.