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CREATE OPERATOR — Defines a new user operator
        PROCEDURE  = func_name
     [, LEFTARG    = type1 ]
     [, RIGHTARG   = type2 ]
     [, COMMUTATOR = com_op ]
     [, NEGATOR    = neg_op ]
     [, RESTRICT   = res_proc ]
     [, HASHES ]
     [, JOIN       = join_proc ]
     [, SORT       = sort_op [, ...] ]



The operator to be defined. See below for allowable characters.


The function used to implement this operator.


The type for the left-hand side of the operator, if any. This option would be omitted for a right-unary operator.


The type for the right-hand side of the operator, if any. This option would be omitted for a left-unary operator.


The corresponding commutative operator.


The corresponding negation operator.


The corresponding restriction operator.


This operator can support a hash-join algorithm.


Procedure supporting table joins.


Operator to use for sorting.



Message returned if the operator is successfully created.


CREATE OPERATOR defines a new operator, name. The user who defines an operator becomes its owner.

The operator name is a sequence of up to thirty two (32) characters in any combination from the following:

            + - * / < > = ~ ! @ # % ^ & | ` ? $ : 

Note: No alphabetic characters are allowed in an operator name. This enables Postgres to parse SQL input into tokens without requiring spaces between each token.

The operator "!=" is mapped to "<>" on input, so they are therefore equivalent.

At least one of LEFTARG and RIGHTARG must be defined. For binary operators, both should be defined. For right unary operators, only LEFTARG should be defined, while for left unary operators only RIGHTARG should be defined.

Also, the func_name procedure must have been previously defined using CREATE FUNCTION and must be defined to accept the correct number of arguments (either one or two).

The commutator operator is present so that Postgres can reverse the order of the operands if it wishes. For example, the operator area-less-than, <<<, would have a commutator operator, area-greater-than, >>>. Hence, the query optimizer could freely convert:

"0,0,1,1"::box  >>> MYBOXES.description
MYBOXES.description <<< "0,0,1,1"::box

This allows the execution code to always use the latter representation and simplifies the query optimizer some what.

Suppose that an operator, area-equal, ===, exists, as well as an area not equal, !==. The negator operator allows the query optimizer to convert

NOT MYBOXES.description === "0,0,1,1"::box
MYBOXES.description !== "0,0,1,1"::box

If a commutator operator name is supplied, Postgres searches for it in the catalog. If it is found and it does not yet have a commutator itself, then the commutator's entry is updated to have the current (new) operator as its commutator. This applies to the negator, as well.

This is to allow the definition of two operators that are the commutators or the negators of each other. The first operator should be defined without a commutator or negator (as appropriate). When the second operator is defined, name the first as the commutator or negator. The first will be updated as a side effect.

The next two specifications are present to support the query optimizer in performing joins. Postgres can always evaluate a join (i.e., processing a clause with two tuple variables separated by an operator that returns a boolean) by iterative substitution [WONG76]. In addition, Postgres is planning on implementing a hash-join algorithm along the lines of [SHAP86]; however, it must know whether this strategy is applicable. For example, a hash-join algorithm is usable for a clause of the form:

MYBOXES.description === MYBOXES2.description
but not for a clause of the form:
MYBOXES.description <<< MYBOXES2.description.
The HASHES flag gives the needed information to the query optimizer concerning whether a hash join strategy is usable for the operator in question.

Similarly, the two sort operators indicate to the query optimizer whether merge-sort is a usable join strategy and what operators should be used to sort the two operand classes. For the === clause above, the optimizer must sort both relations using the operator, <<<. On the other hand, merge-sort is not usable with the clause:

MYBOXES.description <<< MYBOXES2.description

If other join strategies are found to be practical, Postgres will change the optimizer and run-time system to use them and will require additional specification when an operator is defined. Fortunately, the research community invents new join strategies infrequently, and the added generality of user-defined join strategies was not felt to be worth the complexity involved.

The last two pieces of the specification are present so the query optimizer can estimate result sizes. If a clause of the form:

MYBOXES.description <<< "0,0,1,1"::box
is present in the qualification, then Postgres may have to estimate the fraction of the instances in MYBOXES that satisfy the clause. The function res_proc must be a registered function (meaning it is already defined using define function(l)) which accepts one argument of the correct data type and returns a floating point number. The query optimizer simply calls this function, passing the parameter "0,0,1,1" and multiplies the result by the relation size to get the desired expected number of instances.

Similarly, when the operands of the operator both contain instance variables, the query optimizer must estimate the size of the resulting join. The function join_proc will return another floating point number which will be multiplied by the cardinalities of the two classes involved to compute the desired expected result size.

The difference between the function

my_procedure_1 (MYBOXES.description, "0,0,1,1"::box)
and the operator
MYBOXES.description === "0,0,1,1"::box
is that Postgres attempts to optimize operators and can decide to use an index to restrict the search space when operators are involved. However, there is no attempt to optimize functions, and they are performed by brute force. Moreover, functions can have any number of arguments while operators are restricted to one or two.


Refer to the chapter on operators in the PostgreSQL User's Guide for further information. Refer to DROP OPERATOR to delete user-defined operators from a database.


The following command defines a new operator, area-equality, for the BOX data type.

    LEFTARG = box,
    RIGHTARG = box,
    PROCEDURE = area_equal_procedure,
    COMMUTATOR = ===,
    NEGATOR = !==,
    RESTRICT = area_restriction_procedure,
    JOIN = area-join-procedure,
    SORT = <<<, <<<)


CREATE OPERATOR is a Postgres extension.


There is no CREATE OPERATOR statement in SQL92.