CREATE OPERATOR(7) SQL Commands CREATE OPERATOR(7)
CREATE OPERATOR - define a new operator
CREATE OPERATOR name ( PROCEDURE = func_name
[, LEFTARG = lefttype
] [, RIGHTARG = righttype ]
[, COMMUTATOR = com_op ] [, NEGATOR = neg_op ]
[, RESTRICT = res_proc ] [, JOIN = join_proc ]
[, HASHES ] [, MERGES ]
[, SORT1 = left_sort_op ] [, SORT2 = right_sort_op ]
[, LTCMP = less_than_op ] [, GTCMP = greater_than_op ] )
name The operator to be defined. See below for allowable characters. The name may be
schema-qualified, for example CREATE OPERATOR myschema.+ (...).
The function used to implement this operator.
The type of the left-hand argument of the operator, if any. This option would be
omitted for a left-unary operator.
The type of the right-hand argument of the operator, if any. This option would be
omitted for a right-unary operator.
com_op The commutator of this operator.
neg_op The negator of this operator.
The restriction selectivity estimator function for this operator.
The join selectivity estimator function for this operator.
HASHES Indicates this operator can support a hash join.
MERGES Indicates this operator can support a merge join.
If this operator can support a merge join, the less-than operator that sorts the
left-hand data type of this operator.
If this operator can support a merge join, the less-than operator that sorts the
right-hand data type of this operator.
If this operator can support a merge join, the less-than operator that compares the
input data types of this operator.
If this operator can support a merge join, the greater-than operator that compares
the input data types of this operator.
Message returned if the operator is successfully created.
CREATE OPERATOR defines a new operator, name. The user who defines an operator becomes
If a schema name is given then the operator is created in the specified schema. Otherwise
it is created in the current schema (the one at the front of the search path; see CUR-
Two operators in the same schema can have the same name if they operate on different data
types. This is called overloading. The system will attempt to pick the intended operator
based on the actual input data types when there is ambiguity.
The operator name is a sequence of up to NAMEDATALEN-1 (63 by default) characters from the
+ - * / < > = ~ ! @ # % ^ & | ` ? $
There are a few restrictions on your choice of name:
o $ cannot be defined as a single-character operator, although it can be part of a multi-
character operator name.
o -- and /* cannot appear anywhere in an operator name, since they will be taken as the
start of a comment.
o A multicharacter operator name cannot end in + or -, unless the name also contains at
least one of these characters:
~ ! @ # % ^ & | ` ? $
For example, @- is an allowed operator name, but *- is not. This restriction allows
PostgreSQL to parse SQL-compliant queries without requiring spaces between tokens.
Note: When working with non-SQL-standard operator names, you will usually need to
separate adjacent operators with spaces to avoid ambiguity. For example, if you
have defined a left-unary operator named @, you cannot write X*@Y; you must write
X* @Y to ensure that PostgreSQL reads it as two operator names not one.
The operator != is mapped to <> on input, so these two names are always 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.
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) of the indicated
The commutator operator should be identified if one exists, so that PostgreSQL can reverse
the order of the operands if it wishes. For example, the operator area-less-than, <<<,
would probably have a commutator operator, area-greater-than, >>>. Hence, the query opti-
mizer could freely convert:
box '((0,0), (1,1))' >>> MYBOXES.description
MYBOXES.description <<< box '((0,0), (1,1))'
This allows the execution code to always use the latter representation and simplifies the
query optimizer somewhat.
Similarly, if there is a negator operator then it should be identified. Suppose that an
operator, area-equal, ===, exists, as well as an area not equal, !==. The negator link
allows the query optimizer to simplify
NOT MYBOXES.description === box '((0,0), (1,1))'
MYBOXES.description !== box '((0,0), (1,1))'
If a commutator operator name is supplied, PostgreSQL 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 newly created 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 nega-
tor (as appropriate). When the second operator is defined, name the first as the commuta-
tor or negator. The first will be updated as a side effect. (As of PostgreSQL 6.5, it also
works to just have both operators refer to each other.)
The HASHES, MERGES, SORT1, SORT2, LTCMP, and GTCMP options are present to support the
query optimizer in performing joins. PostgreSQL can always evaluate a join (i.e., pro-
cessing a clause with two tuple variables separated by an operator that returns a boolean)
by iterative substitution . In addition, PostgreSQL can use a hash-join algorithm ; how-
ever, it must know whether this strategy is applicable. The current hash-join algorithm is
only correct for operators that represent equality tests; furthermore, equality of the
data type must mean bitwise equality of the representation of the type. (For example, a
data type that contains unused bits that don't matter for equality tests could not be
hash-joined.) The HASHES flag indicates to the query optimizer that a hash join may safely
be used with this operator.
Similarly, the MERGES flag indicates whether merge-sort is a usable join strategy for this
operator. A merge join requires that the two input data types have consistent orderings,
and that the merge-join operator behave like equality with respect to that ordering. For
example, it is possible to merge-join equality between an integer and a float variable by
sorting both inputs in ordinary numeric order. Execution of a merge join requires that the
system be able to identify four operators related to the merge-join equality operator:
less-than comparison for the left input data type, less-than comparison for the right
input data type, less-than comparison between the two data types, and greater-than compar-
ison between the two data types. It is possible to specify these by name, as the SORT1,
SORT2, LTCMP, and GTCMP options respectively. The system will fill in the default names <,
<, <, > respectively if any of these are omitted when MERGES is specified. Also, MERGES
will be assumed to be implied if any of these four operator options appear.
If other join strategies are found to be practical, PostgreSQL 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 com-
The RESTRICT and JOIN options assist the query optimizer in estimating result sizes. If a
clause of the form:
myboxes.description <<< box '((0,0), (1,1))'
is present in the qualification, then PostgreSQL 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 CREATE FUNCTION) which accepts arguments of
the correct data types 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 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
tables involved to compute the expected result size.
The difference between the function
my_procedure_1 (MYBOXES.description, box '((0,0), (1,1))')
and the operator
MYBOXES.description === box '((0,0), (1,1))'
is that PostgreSQL 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.
To give a schema-qualified operator name in com_op or the other optional arguments, use
the OPERATOR() syntax, for example
COMMUTATOR = OPERATOR(myschema.===) ,
The following command defines a new operator, area-equality, for the BOX data type:
CREATE OPERATOR === (
LEFTARG = box,
RIGHTARG = box,
PROCEDURE = area_equal_procedure,
COMMUTATOR = ===,
NEGATOR = !==,
RESTRICT = area_restriction_procedure,
JOIN = area_join_procedure,
SORT1 = <<<,
SORT2 = <<<
-- Since sort operators were given, MERGES is implied.
-- LTCMP and GTCMP are assumed to be < and > respectively
CREATE OPERATOR is a PostgreSQL extension. There is no CREATE OPERATOR statement in
SQL - Language Statements 2002-11-22 CREATE OPERATOR(7)