A materialized view is a database object that contains the results of a query. They are local copies of data located remotely, or are used to create summary tables based on aggregations of a table’s data. Materialized views, which store data based on remote tables are also, know as snapshots (in previous versions of oracle), Materialized Views can increase many times the speed of queries that access huge data records.
A materialized view can query tables, views, and other materialized views. Collectively these are called master tables (a replication term) or detail tables (a data warehouse term).
For replication purposes, materialized views allow you to maintain copies of remote data on your local node. These copies are read-only. If you want to update the local copies, you have to use the Advanced Replication feature. You can select data from a materialized view as you would from a table or view.
For data warehousing purposes, the materialized views commonly created are aggregate views, single-table aggregate views, and join views.
Oracle uses materialized views (also known as snapshots in prior releases) to replicate data to non-master sites in a replication environment and to cache expensive queries in a data warehouse environment.