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PostgreSQL Bit String Data Types


  • Bit strings are strings of 1's and 0's. They can be used to store or visualize bit masks. There are two SQL bit types: bit(n) and bit varying(n), where n is a positive integer.
  • bit type data must match the length n exactly; it is an error to attempt to store shorter or longer bit strings. bit varying data is of variable length up to the maximum length n; longer strings will be rejected. Writing bit without a length is equivalent to bit(1), while bit varying without a length specification means unlimited length.
  • Note: If one explicitly casts a bit-string value to bit(n), it will be truncated or zero-padded on the right to be exactly n bits, without raising an error. Similarly, if one explicitly casts a bit-string value to bit varying(n), it will be truncated on the right if it is more than n bits.

Using the Bit String Types
CREATE TABLE test (a BIT(3), b BIT VARYING(5));
INSERT INTO test VALUES (B'101', B'00');
INSERT INTO test VALUES (B'10', B'101');
ERROR: bit string length 2 does not match type bit(3)
INSERT INTO test VALUES (B'10'::bit(3), B'101');
SELECT * FROM test;
a | b
-----+-----
101 | 00
100 | 101

A bit string value requires 1 byte for each group of 8 bits, plus 5 or 8 bytes overhead depending on the length of the string (but long values may be compressed or moved out-of-line

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