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9.18. Array Functions and Operators

Table 9-45 shows the operators available for array types.

Table 9-45. Array Operators

Operator Description Example Result
= equal ARRAY[1.1,2.1,3.1]::int[] = ARRAY[1,2,3] t
<> not equal ARRAY[1,2,3] <> ARRAY[1,2,4] t
< less than ARRAY[1,2,3] < ARRAY[1,2,4] t
> greater than ARRAY[1,4,3] > ARRAY[1,2,4] t
<= less than or equal ARRAY[1,2,3] <= ARRAY[1,2,3] t
>= greater than or equal ARRAY[1,4,3] >= ARRAY[1,4,3] t
@> contains ARRAY[1,4,3] @> ARRAY[3,1,3] t
<@ is contained by ARRAY[2,2,7] <@ ARRAY[1,7,4,2,6] t
&& overlap (have elements in common) ARRAY[1,4,3] && ARRAY[2,1] t
|| array-to-array concatenation ARRAY[1,2,3] || ARRAY[4,5,6] {1,2,3,4,5,6}
|| array-to-array concatenation ARRAY[1,2,3] || ARRAY[[4,5,6],[7,8,9]] {{1,2,3},{4,5,6},{7,8,9}}
|| element-to-array concatenation 3 || ARRAY[4,5,6] {3,4,5,6}
|| array-to-element concatenation ARRAY[4,5,6] || 7 {4,5,6,7}

The array ordering operators (<, >=, etc) compare the array contents element-by-element, using the default B-tree comparison function for the element data type, and sort based on the first difference. In multidimensional arrays the elements are visited in row-major order (last subscript varies most rapidly). If the contents of two arrays are equal but the dimensionality is different, the first difference in the dimensionality information determines the sort order. (This is a change from versions of PostgreSQL prior to 8.2: older versions would claim that two arrays with the same contents were equal, even if the number of dimensions or subscript ranges were different.)

The array containment operators (<@ and @>) consider one array to be contained in another one if each of its elements appears in the other one. Duplicates are not treated specially, thus ARRAY[1] and ARRAY[1,1] are each considered to contain the other.

See Section 8.15 for more details about array operator behavior. See Section 11.2 for more details about which operators support indexed operations.

Table 9-46 shows the functions available for use with array types. See Section 8.15 for more information and examples of the use of these functions.

Table 9-46. Array Functions

Function Return Type Description Example Result
array_append(anyarray, anyelement) anyarray append an element to the end of an array array_append(ARRAY[1,2], 3) {1,2,3}
array_cat(anyarray, anyarray) anyarray concatenate two arrays array_cat(ARRAY[1,2,3], ARRAY[4,5]) {1,2,3,4,5}
array_ndims(anyarray) int returns the number of dimensions of the array array_ndims(ARRAY[[1,2,3], [4,5,6]]) 2
array_dims(anyarray) text returns a text representation of array's dimensions array_dims(ARRAY[[1,2,3], [4,5,6]]) [1:2][1:3]
array_fill(anyelement, int[] [, int[]]) anyarray returns an array initialized with supplied value and dimensions, optionally with lower bounds other than 1 array_fill(7, ARRAY[3], ARRAY[2]) [2:4]={7,7,7}
array_length(anyarray, int) int returns the length of the requested array dimension array_length(array[1,2,3], 1) 3
array_lower(anyarray, int) int returns lower bound of the requested array dimension array_lower('[0:2]={1,2,3}'::int[], 1) 0
array_prepend(anyelement, anyarray) anyarray append an element to the beginning of an array array_prepend(1, ARRAY[2,3]) {1,2,3}
array_remove(anyarray, anyelement) anyarray remove all elements equal to the given value from the array (array must be one-dimensional) array_remove(ARRAY[1,2,3,2], 2) {1,3}
array_replace(anyarray, anyelement, anyelement) anyarray replace each array element equal to the given value with a new value array_replace(ARRAY[1,2,5,4], 5, 3) {1,2,3,4}
array_to_string(anyarray, text [, text]) text concatenates array elements using supplied delimiter and optional null string array_to_string(ARRAY[1, 2, 3, NULL, 5], ',', '*') 1,2,3,*,5
array_upper(anyarray, int) int returns upper bound of the requested array dimension array_upper(ARRAY[1,8,3,7], 1) 4
cardinality(anyarray) int returns the total number of elements in the array, or 0 if the array is empty cardinality(ARRAY[[1,2],[3,4]]) 4
string_to_array(text, text [, text]) text[] splits string into array elements using supplied delimiter and optional null string string_to_array('xx~^~yy~^~zz', '~^~', 'yy') {xx,NULL,zz}
unnest(anyarray) setof anyelement expand an array to a set of rows unnest(ARRAY[1,2])
(2 rows)
unnest(anyarray, anyarray [, ...]) setof anyelement, anyelement [, ...] expand multiple arrays (possibly of different types) to a set of rows. This is only allowed in the FROM clause; see Section unnest(ARRAY[1,2],ARRAY['foo','bar','baz'])
1    foo
2    bar
NULL baz
(3 rows)

In string_to_array, if the delimiter parameter is NULL, each character in the input string will become a separate element in the resulting array. If the delimiter is an empty string, then the entire input string is returned as a one-element array. Otherwise the input string is split at each occurrence of the delimiter string.

In string_to_array, if the null-string parameter is omitted or NULL, none of the substrings of the input will be replaced by NULL. In array_to_string, if the null-string parameter is omitted or NULL, any null elements in the array are simply skipped and not represented in the output string.

Note: There are two differences in the behavior of string_to_array from pre-9.1 versions of PostgreSQL. First, it will return an empty (zero-element) array rather than NULL when the input string is of zero length. Second, if the delimiter string is NULL, the function splits the input into individual characters, rather than returning NULL as before.

See also Section 9.20 about the aggregate function array_agg for use with arrays.