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Array Data Types

New in v0.5.0.

Arrays are a multidimensional sequence of any non-array type.


We do not recommend using arrays, which exist in Materialize primarily to facilitate compatibility with PostgreSQL. Specifically, many of the PostgreSQL compatibility views in the system catalog must expose array types. Unfortunately, PostgreSQL arrays have odd semantics and do not interoperate well with modern data formats like JSON and Avro.

Use the list type instead.


Type name

The name of an array type is the name of an element type followed by square brackets ([]) . For example, the type int[] specifies an integer array.

For compatibility with PostgreSQL, array types may optionally indicate additional dimensions, as in int[][][], or the sizes of dimensions, as in int[3][4]. However, as in PostgreSQL, these additional annotations are ignored. Arrays of the same element type are considered to be of the same type regardless of their dimensions. For example, the type int[3][4] is exactly equivalent to the type int[].

To reduce confusion, we recommend that you use the simpler form of the type name whenever possible.


Available only in unstable builds: The ARRAY expression syntax.

You can construct arrays using the special ARRAY expression:


You can nest ARRAY constructors to create multidimensional arrays:

SELECT ARRAY[ARRAY['a', 'b'], ARRAY['c', 'd']]

Arrays cannot be “ragged.” The length of each array expression must equal the length of all other array constructors in the same dimension. For example, the following ragged array is rejected:

ERROR:  number of array elements (3) does not match declared cardinality (4)

Textual format

The textual representation of an array consists of an opening curly brace ({), followed by the textual representation of each element separated by commas (,), followed by a closing curly brace (}). For multidimensional arrays, this format is applied recursively to each array dimension. No additional whitespace is added.

Null elements are rendered as the literal string NULL. Non-null elements are rendered as if that element had been cast to text.

An element whose textual representation contains curly braces, commas, whitespace, double quotes, backslashes, or is exactly the string NULL (in any case) is wrapped in double quotes in order to distinguish the representation of the element from the representation of the containing array. Within double quotes, backslashes and double quotes are backslash-escaped.

The following example demonstrates the output format and includes many of the aforementioned special cases.

SELECT ARRAY[ARRAY['a', 'white space'], ARRAY[NULL, ''], ARRAY['escape"m\e', 'nUlL']]
 {{a,"white space"},{NULL,""},{"escape\"m\\e","nUlL"}}

Catalog names

Builtin types (e.g. integer) have a builtin array type that can be referred to by prefixing the type catalog name name with an underscore. For example, integer's catalog name is pg_catalog.int4, so its array type’s catalog name is pg_catalog_int4.

Array element Catalog name OID
bigint pg_catalog._int8 1016
boolean pg_catalog._bool 1000
date pg_catalog._date 1182
double precision pg_catalog._float8 1022
integer pg_catalog._bool 1007
interval pg_catalog._interval 1187
jsonb pg_catalog.3807 1000
numeric pg_catalog._numeric 1231
oid pg_catalog._oid 1028
real pg_catalog._float4 1021
text pg_catalog._bool 1009
time pg_catalog._time 1183
timestamp pg_catalog._timestamp 1115
timestamp with time zone pg_catalog._timestamptz 1185
uuid pg_catalog._uuid 2951

Valid casts

You can cast all array types to text by assignment.

Available only in unstable builds: You can cast text to any array type. The input must conform to the textual format described above, with the additional restriction that you cannot yet use a cast to construct a multidimensional array.


SELECT '{1,2,3}'::int[]
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