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behavior of ' = NULL' vs. MySQL vs. Standards

From: Mark Stosberg <mark(at)summersault(dot)com>
To: pgsql-sql(at)postgresql(dot)org
Subject: behavior of ' = NULL' vs. MySQL vs. Standards
Date: 2001-06-07 01:00:45
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Lists: pgsql-hackerspgsql-sql

I'm a long time Postgres user who uses MySQL when I have to. I recently
ran into an issue with MySQL where this construct didn't do what I expect:

WHERE date_column = NULL

I expected it to work like "date_column IS NULL" like it does it
Postgres 7.0.2, but instead it returned an empty result set. 

After conversing with some folks on the MySQL list, it was mentioned that:

 * "NULL is *NOT* a value. It's an absence of a value, and doing *any*
comparisons with NULL is invalid (the result must always be NULL, even
if you say "foo = NULL")." 

 * Postgres handling is non-standard (even if it's intuitive.) 

My questions then are: 1.) What IS the standard for handling NULLs? and
then 2.) If Postgres handling is different than the standard, what's the

To me, having " = NULL" be the same as " IS NULL" is intuitive and thus
useful, but I also like appeal of using standards when possible. :) 




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