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8.4. Unique Indexes

Indexes may also be used to enforce uniqueness of a column's value, or the uniqueness of the combined values of more than one column.

CREATE UNIQUE INDEX name ON table (column [, ...]);

Currently, only B-tree indexes can be declared unique.

When an index is declared unique, multiple table rows with equal indexed values will not be allowed. NULL values are not considered equal.

PostgreSQL automatically creates unique indexes when a table is declared with a unique constraint or a primary key, on the columns that make up the primary key or unique columns (a multicolumn index, if appropriate), to enforce that constraint. A unique index can be added to a table at any later time, to add a unique constraint.

Note: The preferred way to add a unique constraint to a table is ALTER TABLE ... ADD CONSTRAINT. The use of indexes to enforce unique constraints could be considered an implementation detail that should not be accessed directly.

Comments


April 22, 2003, 4:11 p.m.

The problems that arise from NULL being ignored in UNIQUE indexes can be avoided by an additional partial index:

Say you have this table:

CREATE TABLE nulldemo (a int, b int NULL);

And you want only to have unique pairs in it, the following is not enough:

CREATE UNIQUE INDEX idx1 ON nulldemo (a,b);

since b allows NULL-values. So you need another index to take care of these cases:

CREATE UNIQUE INDEX idx2 ON nulldemo (a) WHERE b IS NULL;

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