CREATE FUNCTION -- define a new function


CREATE [ OR REPLACE ] FUNCTION name ( [ argtype [, ...] ] )
    RETURNS rettype
  { LANGUAGE langname
    | AS 'definition'
    | AS 'obj_file', 'link_symbol'
  } ...
    [ WITH ( attribute [, ...] ) ]


CREATE FUNCTION defines a new function. CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION will either create a new function, or replace an existing definition.

The user that creates the function becomes the owner of the function.



The name of a function to create. If a schema name is included, then the function is created in the specified schema. Otherwise it is created in the current schema (the one at the front of the search path; see CURRENT_SCHEMA()). The name of the new function must not match any existing function with the same argument types in the same schema. However, functions of different argument types may share a name (this is called overloading).


The data type(s) of the function's arguments, if any. The input types may be base, complex, or domain types, or the same as the type of an existing column. The type of a column is referenced by writing tablename.columnname%TYPE; using this can sometimes help make a function independent from changes to the definition of a table. Depending on the implementation language it may also be allowed to specify "pseudo-types" such as cstring. Pseudo-types indicate that the actual argument type is either incompletely specified, or outside the set of ordinary SQL data types.


The return data type. The return type may be specified as a base, complex, or domain type, or the same as the type of an existing column. Depending on the implementation language it may also be allowed to specify "pseudo-types" such as cstring. The setof modifier indicates that the function will return a set of items, rather than a single item.


The name of the language that the function is implemented in. May be SQL, C, internal, or the name of a user-defined procedural language. (See also createlang.) For backward compatibility, the name may be enclosed by single quotes.


These attributes inform the system whether it is safe to replace multiple evaluations of the function with a single evaluation, for run-time optimization. At most one choice should be specified. If none of these appear, VOLATILE is the default assumption.

IMMUTABLE indicates that the function always returns the same result when given the same argument values; that is, it does not do database lookups or otherwise use information not directly present in its parameter list. If this option is given, any call of the function with all-constant arguments can be immediately replaced with the function value.

STABLE indicates that within a single table scan the function will consistently return the same result for the same argument values, but that its result could change across SQL statements. This is the appropriate selection for functions whose results depend on database lookups, parameter variables (such as the current time zone), etc. Also note that the CURRENT_TIMESTAMP family of functions qualify as stable, since their values do not change within a transaction.

VOLATILE indicates that the function value can change even within a single table scan, so no optimizations can be made. Relatively few database functions are volatile in this sense; some examples are random(), currval(), timeofday(). Note that any function that has side-effects must be classified volatile, even if its result is quite predictable, to prevent calls from being optimized away; an example is setval().


CALLED ON NULL INPUT (the default) indicates that the function will be called normally when some of its arguments are null. It is then the function author's responsibility to check for null values if necessary and respond appropriately.

RETURNS NULL ON NULL INPUT or STRICT indicates that the function always returns NULL whenever any of its arguments are NULL. If this parameter is specified, the function is not executed when there are NULL arguments; instead a NULL result is assumed automatically.


SECURITY INVOKER indicates that the function is to be executed with the privileges of the user that calls it. That is the default. SECURITY DEFINER specifies that the function is to be executed with the privileges of the user that created it.

The key word EXTERNAL is present for SQL compatibility but is optional since, unlike in SQL, this feature does not only apply to external functions.


A string defining the function; the meaning depends on the language. It may be an internal function name, the path to an object file, an SQL query, or text in a procedural language.

obj_file, link_symbol

This form of the AS clause is used for dynamically linked C language functions when the function name in the C language source code is not the same as the name of the SQL function. The string obj_file is the name of the file containing the dynamically loadable object, and link_symbol is the object's link symbol, that is, the name of the function in the C language source code.


The historical way to specify optional pieces of information about the function. The following attributes may appear here:




isCachable is an obsolete equivalent of IMMUTABLE; it's still accepted for backwards-compatibility reasons.

Attribute names are not case-sensitive.


Refer to the chapter in the PostgreSQL Programmer's Guide on the topic of extending PostgreSQL via functions for further information on writing external functions.

The full SQL type syntax is allowed for input arguments and return value. However, some details of the type specification (e.g., the precision field for numeric types) are the responsibility of the underlying function implementation and are silently swallowed (i.e., not recognized or enforced) by the CREATE FUNCTION command.

PostgreSQL allows function overloading; that is, the same name can be used for several different functions so long as they have distinct argument types. This facility must be used with caution for internal and C-language functions, however.

Two internal functions cannot have the same C name without causing errors at link time. To get around that, give them different C names (for example, use the argument types as part of the C names), then specify those names in the AS clause of CREATE FUNCTION. If the AS clause is left empty, then CREATE FUNCTION assumes the C name of the function is the same as the SQL name.

Similarly, when overloading SQL function names with multiple C-language functions, give each C-language instance of the function a distinct name, then use the alternative form of the AS clause in the CREATE FUNCTION syntax to select the appropriate C-language implementation of each overloaded SQL function.

When repeated CREATE FUNCTION calls refer to the same object file, the file is only loaded once. To unload and reload the file (perhaps during development), use the LOAD command.

Use DROP FUNCTION to remove user-defined functions.

To update the definition of an existing function, use CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION. Note that it is not possible to change the name or argument types of a function this way (if you tried, you'd just be creating a new, distinct function). Also, CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION will not let you change the return type of an existing function. To do that, you must drop and re-create the function.

If you drop and then re-create a function, the new function is not the same entity as the old; you will break existing rules, views, triggers, etc that referred to the old function. Use CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION to change a function definition without breaking objects that refer to the function.

To be able to define a function, the user must have the USAGE privilege on the language.

By default, only the owner (creator) of the function has the right to execute it. Other users must be granted the EXECUTE privilege on the function to be able to use it.


To create a simple SQL function:


SELECT one() AS answer;

The next example creates a C function by calling a routine from a user-created shared library named (the extension may vary across platforms). The shared library file is sought in the server's dynamic library search path. This particular routine calculates a check digit and returns true if the check digit in the function parameters is correct. It is intended for use in a CHECK constraint.

CREATE FUNCTION ean_checkdigit(char, char) RETURNS boolean
    AS 'funcs' LANGUAGE C;
CREATE TABLE product (
    id        char(8) PRIMARY KEY,
    eanprefix char(8) CHECK (eanprefix ~ '[0-9]{2}-[0-9]{5}')
                      REFERENCES brandname(ean_prefix),
    eancode   char(6) CHECK (eancode ~ '[0-9]{6}'),
    CONSTRAINT ean    CHECK (ean_checkdigit(eanprefix, eancode))

The next example creates a function that does type conversion from the user-defined type complex to the built-in type point. The function is implemented by a dynamically loaded object that was compiled from C source (we illustrate the now-deprecated alternative of specifying the absolute file name to the shared object file). For PostgreSQL to find a type conversion function automatically, the SQL function has to have the same name as the return type, and so overloading is unavoidable. The function name is overloaded by using the second form of the AS clause in the SQL definition:

CREATE FUNCTION point(complex) RETURNS point
    AS '/home/bernie/pgsql/lib/', 'complex_to_point'

The C declaration of the function could be:

Point * complex_to_point (Complex *z)
	Point *p;

	p = (Point *) palloc(sizeof(Point));
	p->x = z->x;
	p->y = z->y;
	return p;

Note that the function is marked "strict"; this allows us to skip checking for NULL input in the function body.


A CREATE FUNCTION command is defined in SQL99. The PostgreSQL version is similar but not fully compatible. The attributes are not portable, neither are the different available languages.

See Also

DROP FUNCTION, GRANT, LOAD, REVOKE, createlang, PostgreSQL Programmer's Guide

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