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CREATE FUNCTION -- define a new function


    name ( [ [ argmode ] [ argname ] argtype [, ...] ] )
    [ RETURNS rettype ]
  { LANGUAGE langname
    | AS 'definition'
    | AS 'obj_file', 'link_symbol'
  } ...
    [ WITH ( attribute [, ...] ) ]


CREATE FUNCTION defines a new function. CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION will either create a new function, or replace an existing definition.

If a schema name is included, then the function is created in the specified schema. Otherwise it is created in the current schema. The name of the new function must not match any existing function with the same argument types in the same schema. However, functions of different argument types may share a name (this is called overloading).

To update the definition of an existing function, use CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION. It is not possible to change the name or argument types of a function this way (if you tried, you would actually be creating a new, distinct function). Also, CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION will not let you change the return type of an existing function. To do that, you must drop and recreate the function. (When using OUT parameters, that means you can't change the names or types of any OUT parameters except by dropping the function.)

If you drop and then recreate a function, the new function is not the same entity as the old; you will have to drop existing rules, views, triggers, etc. that refer to the old function. Use CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION to change a function definition without breaking objects that refer to the function.

The user that creates the function becomes the owner of the function.



The name (optionally schema-qualified) of the function to create.


The mode of an argument: either IN, OUT, or INOUT. If omitted, the default is IN.


The name of an argument. Some languages (currently only PL/pgSQL) let you use the name in the function body. For other languages the name of an input argument is just extra documentation. But the name of an output argument is significant, since it defines the column name in the result row type. (If you omit the name for an output argument, the system will choose a default column name.)


The data type(s) of the function's arguments (optionally schema-qualified), if any. The argument types may be base, composite, or domain types, or may reference the type of a table column.

Depending on the implementation language it may also be allowed to specify "pseudotypes" such as cstring. Pseudotypes indicate that the actual argument type is either incompletely specified, or outside the set of ordinary SQL data types.

The type of a column is referenced by writing tablename.columnname%TYPE. Using this feature can sometimes help make a function independent of changes to the definition of a table.


The return data type (optionally schema-qualified). The return type may be a base, composite, or domain type, or may reference the type of a table column. Depending on the implementation language it may also be allowed to specify "pseudotypes" such as cstring. If the function is not supposed to return a value, specify void as the return type.

When there are OUT or INOUT parameters, the RETURNS clause may be omitted. If present, it must agree with the result type implied by the output parameters: RECORD if there are multiple output parameters, or the same type as the single output parameter.

The SETOF modifier indicates that the function will return a set of items, rather than a single item.

The type of a column is referenced by writing tablename.columnname%TYPE.


The name of the language that the function is implemented in. May be SQL, C, internal, or the name of a user-defined procedural language. For backward compatibility, the name may be enclosed by single quotes.


These attributes inform the query optimizer about the behavior of the function. At most one choice may be specified. If none of these appear, VOLATILE is the default assumption.

IMMUTABLE indicates that the function cannot modify the database and always returns the same result when given the same argument values; that is, it does not do database lookups or otherwise use information not directly present in its argument list. If this option is given, any call of the function with all-constant arguments can be immediately replaced with the function value.

STABLE indicates that the function cannot modify the database, and that within a single table scan it will consistently return the same result for the same argument values, but that its result could change across SQL statements. This is the appropriate selection for functions whose results depend on database lookups, parameter variables (such as the current time zone), etc. Also note that the current_timestamp family of functions qualify as stable, since their values do not change within a transaction.

VOLATILE indicates that the function value can change even within a single table scan, so no optimizations can be made. Relatively few database functions are volatile in this sense; some examples are random(), currval(), timeofday(). But note that any function that has side-effects must be classified volatile, even if its result is quite predictable, to prevent calls from being optimized away; an example is setval().

For additional details see Section 33.6.


CALLED ON NULL INPUT (the default) indicates that the function will be called normally when some of its arguments are null. It is then the function author's responsibility to check for null values if necessary and respond appropriately.

RETURNS NULL ON NULL INPUT or STRICT indicates that the function always returns null whenever any of its arguments are null. If this parameter is specified, the function is not executed when there are null arguments; instead a null result is assumed automatically.


SECURITY INVOKER indicates that the function is to be executed with the privileges of the user that calls it. That is the default. SECURITY DEFINER specifies that the function is to be executed with the privileges of the user that created it.

The key word EXTERNAL is allowed for SQL conformance, but it is optional since, unlike in SQL, this feature applies to all functions not only external ones.


A string constant defining the function; the meaning depends on the language. It may be an internal function name, the path to an object file, an SQL command, or text in a procedural language.

obj_file, link_symbol

This form of the AS clause is used for dynamically loadable C language functions when the function name in the C language source code is not the same as the name of the SQL function. The string obj_file is the name of the file containing the dynamically loadable object, and link_symbol is the function's link symbol, that is, the name of the function in the C language source code. If the link symbol is omitted, it is assumed to be the same as the name of the SQL function being defined.


The historical way to specify optional pieces of information about the function. The following attributes may appear here:




isCachable is an obsolete equivalent of IMMUTABLE; it's still accepted for backwards-compatibility reasons.

Attribute names are not case-sensitive.


Refer to Section 33.3 for further information on writing functions.

The full SQL type syntax is allowed for input arguments and return value. However, some details of the type specification (e.g., the precision field for type numeric) are the responsibility of the underlying function implementation and are silently swallowed (i.e., not recognized or enforced) by the CREATE FUNCTION command.

PostgreSQL allows function overloading; that is, the same name can be used for several different functions so long as they have distinct argument types. However, the C names of all functions must be different, so you must give overloaded C functions different C names (for example, use the argument types as part of the C names).

Two functions are considered the same if they have the same names and input argument types, ignoring any OUT parameters. Thus for example these declarations conflict:

CREATE FUNCTION foo(int) ...
CREATE FUNCTION foo(int, out text) ...

When repeated CREATE FUNCTION calls refer to the same object file, the file is only loaded once per session. To unload and reload the file (perhaps during development), start a new session.

Use DROP FUNCTION to remove user-defined functions.

It is often helpful to use dollar quoting (see Section to write the function definition string, rather than the normal single quote syntax. Without dollar quoting, any single quotes or backslashes in the function definition must be escaped by doubling them.

To be able to define a function, the user must have the USAGE privilege on the language.

When CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION is used to replace an existing function, the ownership and permissions of the function do not change. All other function properties are assigned the values specified or implied in the command. You must own the function to replace it (this includes being a member of the owning role).


Here are some trivial examples to help you get started. For more information and examples, see Section 33.3.

CREATE FUNCTION add(integer, integer) RETURNS integer
    AS 'select $1 + $2;'

Increment an integer, making use of an argument name, in PL/pgSQL:

CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION increment(i integer) RETURNS integer AS $$
                RETURN i + 1;
$$ LANGUAGE plpgsql;

Return a record containing multiple output parameters:

CREATE FUNCTION dup(in int, out f1 int, out f2 text)
    AS $$ SELECT $1, CAST($1 AS text) || ' is text' $$

SELECT * FROM dup(42);

You can do the same thing more verbosely with an explicitly named composite type:

CREATE TYPE dup_result AS (f1 int, f2 text);

CREATE FUNCTION dup(int) RETURNS dup_result
    AS $$ SELECT $1, CAST($1 AS text) || ' is text' $$

SELECT * FROM dup(42);

Writing SECURITY DEFINER Functions Safely

Because a SECURITY DEFINER function is executed with the privileges of the user that created it, care is needed to ensure that the function cannot be misused. For security, search_path should be set to exclude any schemas writable by untrusted users. This prevents malicious users from creating objects that mask objects used by the function. Particularly important in this regard is the temporary-table schema, which is searched first by default, and is normally writable by anyone. A secure arrangement can be had by forcing the temporary schema to be searched last. To do this, write pg_temp as the last entry in search_path. This function illustrates safe usage:

CREATE FUNCTION check_password(uname TEXT, pass TEXT)
        old_path TEXT;
        -- Save old search_path; notice we must qualify current_setting
        -- to ensure we invoke the right function
        old_path := pg_catalog.current_setting('search_path');

        -- Set a secure search_path: trusted schemas, then 'pg_temp'.
        -- We set is_local = true so that the old value will be restored
        -- in event of an error before we reach the function end.
        PERFORM pg_catalog.set_config('search_path', 'admin, pg_temp', true);

        -- Do whatever secure work we came for.
        SELECT  (pwd = $2) INTO passed
        FROM    pwds
        WHERE   username = $1;

        -- Restore caller's search_path
        PERFORM pg_catalog.set_config('search_path', old_path, true);

        RETURN passed;


A CREATE FUNCTION command is defined in SQL:1999 and later. The PostgreSQL version is similar but not fully compatible. The attributes are not portable, neither are the different available languages.

For compatibility with some other database systems, argmode can be written either before or after argname. But only the first way is standard-compliant.

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