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3.4. pg_attribute

pg_attribute stores information about table columns. There will be exactly one pg_attribute row for every column in every table in the database. (There will also be attribute entries for indexes and other objects. See pg_class.)

The term attribute is equivalent to column and is used for historical reasons.

Table 3-4. pg_attribute Columns

Name Type References Description
attrelid oid pg_class.oid The table this column belongs to
attname name   Column name
atttypid oid pg_type.oid The data type of this column
attdispersion float4   attdispersion is the dispersion statistic of the column (0.0 to 1.0), or zero if the statistic has not been calculated, or -1.0 if VACUUM found that the column contains no duplicate entries (in which case the dispersion should be taken as 1.0/numberOfRows for the current table size). The -1.0 hack is useful because the number of rows may be updated more often than attdispersion is. We assume that the column will retain its no-duplicate-entry property.
attlen int2   This is a copy of the pg_type.typlen for this column's type.
attnum int2   The number of the column. Ordinary columns are numbered from 1 up. System columns, such as oid, have (arbitrary) negative numbers.
attnelems int4   Number of dimensions, if the column is an array
attcacheoff int4   Always -1 in storage, but when loaded into a tuple descriptor in memory this may be updated cache the offset of the attribute within the tuple.
atttypmod int4   atttypmod records type-specific data supplied at table creation time (for example, the maximum length of a varchar column). It is passed to type-specific input and output functions as the third argument. The value will generally be -1 for types that do not need typmod.
attbyval bool   A copy of pg_type.typbyval of this column's type
attstorage char   A copy of pg_type.typstorage of this column's type
attisset bool   If true, this attribute is a set. In that case, what is really stored in the attribute is the OID of a tuple in the pg_proc catalog. The pg_proc tuple contains the query string that defines this set - i.e., the query to run to get the set. So the atttypid (see above) refers to the type returned by this query, but the actual length of this attribute is the length (size) of an oid. --- At least this is the theory. All this is probably quite broken these days.
attalign char   A copy of pg_type.typalign of this column's type
attnotnull bool   This represents a NOT NULL constraint. It is possible to change this field to enable or disable the constraint.
atthasdef bool   This column has a default value, in which case there will be a corresponding entry in the pg_attrdef catalog that actually defines the value.