Numeric Types

Integer Types

The types tinyint, smallint, integer, and bigint store whole numbers, that is, numbers without fractional components, of various ranges. Attempts to store values outside of the allowed range will result in an error.

Name Aliases Min Max
tinyint   -127 127
smallint int2 -32767 32767
integer int, int4, signed -2147483647 2147483647
bigint int8 -9223372036854775808 9223372036854775808

The type integer is the common choice, as it offers the best balance between range, storage size, and performance. The smallint type is generally only used if disk space is at a premium. The bigint type is designed to be used when the range of the integer type is insufficient.

Floating-Point Types

The data types real and double precision are inexact, variable-precision numeric types. In practice, these types are usually implementations of IEEE Standard 754 for Binary Floating-Point Arithmetic (single and double precision, respectively), to the extent that the underlying processor, operating system, and compiler support it.

Name Aliases Description
real float4 single precision floating-point number (4 bytes)
double numeric double precision floating-point number (8 bytes)

Inexact means that some values cannot be converted exactly to the internal format and are stored as approximations, so that storing and retrieving a value might show slight discrepancies. Managing these errors and how they propagate through calculations is the subject of an entire branch of mathematics and computer science and will not be discussed here, except for the following points:

  • If you require exact storage and calculations (such as for monetary amounts), use the numeric type instead.
  • If you want to do complicated calculations with these types for anything important, especially if you rely on certain behavior in boundary cases (infinity, underflow), you should evaluate the implementation carefully.
  • Comparing two floating-point values for equality might not always work as expected.

On most platforms, the real type has a range of at least 1E-37 to 1E+37 with a precision of at least 6 decimal digits. The double precision type typically has a range of around 1E-307 to 1E+308 with a precision of at least 15 digits. Values that are too large or too small will cause an error. Rounding might take place if the precision of an input number is too high. Numbers too close to zero that are not representable as distinct from zero will cause an underflow error.

In addition to ordinary numeric values, the floating-point types have several special values:

Infinity -Infinity NaN

These represent the IEEE 754 special values “infinity”, “negative infinity”, and “not-a-number”, respectively. (On a machine whose floating-point arithmetic does not follow IEEE 754, these values will probably not work as expected.) When writing these values as constants in an SQL command, you must put quotes around them, for example UPDATE table SET x = ‘-Infinity’. On input, these strings are recognized in a case-insensitive manner.

Functions

See Numeric Functions and Operators