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43.7. pg_attribute

The catalog 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 indeed all objects that have pg_class entries.)

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

Table 43-7. pg_attribute Columns

Name Type References Description
attrelid oid pg_class.oid The table this column belongs to
attname name   The column name
atttypid oid pg_type.oid The data type of this column
attstattarget int4   attstattarget controls the level of detail of statistics accumulated for this column by ANALYZE. A zero value indicates that no statistics should be collected. A negative value says to use the system default statistics target. The exact meaning of positive values is data type-dependent. For scalar data types, attstattarget is both the target number of "most common values" to collect, and the target number of histogram bins to create
attlen int2   A copy of pg_type.typlen of 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
attndims int4   Number of dimensions, if the column is an array type; otherwise 0. (Presently, the number of dimensions of an array is not enforced, so any nonzero value effectively means "it's an array")
attcacheoff int4   Always -1 in storage, but when loaded into a row descriptor in memory this may be updated to cache the offset of the attribute within the row
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 functions and length coercion functions. The value will generally be -1 for types that do not need atttypmod
attbyval bool   A copy of pg_type.typbyval of this column's type
attstorage char   Normally a copy of pg_type.typstorage of this column's type. For TOAST-able data types, this can be altered after column creation to control storage policy
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 column 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
attisdropped bool   This column has been dropped and is no longer valid. A dropped column is still physically present in the table, but is ignored by the parser and so cannot be accessed via SQL
attislocal bool   This column is defined locally in the relation. Note that a column may be locally defined and inherited simultaneously
attinhcount int4   The number of direct ancestors this column has. A column with a nonzero number of ancestors cannot be dropped nor renamed

In a dropped column's pg_attribute entry, atttypid is reset to zero, but attlen and the other fields copied from pg_type are still valid. This arrangement is needed to cope with the situation where the dropped column's data type was later dropped, and so there is no pg_type row anymore. attlen and the other fields can be used to interpret the contents of a row of the table.