F.11. cube — a multidimensional cube data type #
This module implements a data type cube
for representing multidimensional cubes.
This module is considered “trusted”, that is, it can be installed by nonsuperusers who have CREATE
privilege on the current database.
F.11.1. Syntax #
Table F.2 shows the valid external representations for the cube
type. x
, y
, etc. denote floatingpoint numbers.
Table F.2. Cube External Representations
External Syntax  Meaning 

 A onedimensional point (or, zerolength onedimensional interval) 
(  Same as above 
 A point in ndimensional space, represented internally as a zerovolume cube 
(  Same as above 
(  A onedimensional interval starting at x and ending at y or vice versa; the order does not matter 
[(  Same as above 
(  An ndimensional cube represented by a pair of its diagonally opposite corners 
[(  Same as above 
It does not matter which order the opposite corners of a cube are entered in. The cube
functions automatically swap values if needed to create a uniform “lower left — upper right” internal representation. When the corners coincide, cube
stores only one corner along with an “is point” flag to avoid wasting space.
White space is ignored on input, so [(
is the same as x
),(y
)][ (
. x
), ( y
) ]
F.11.2. Precision #
Values are stored internally as 64bit floating point numbers. This means that numbers with more than about 16 significant digits will be truncated.
F.11.3. Usage #
Table F.3 shows the specialized operators provided for type cube
.
Table F.3. Cube Operators
Operator Description 

Do the cubes overlap? 
Does the first cube contain the second? 
Is the first cube contained in the second? 
Extracts the 
Extracts the 
Computes the Euclidean distance between the two cubes. 
Computes the taxicab (L1 metric) distance between the two cubes. 
Computes the Chebyshev (Linf metric) distance between the two cubes. 
In addition to the above operators, the usual comparison operators shown in Table 9.1 are available for type cube
. These operators first compare the first coordinates, and if those are equal, compare the second coordinates, etc. They exist mainly to support the btree index operator class for cube
, which can be useful for example if you would like a UNIQUE constraint on a cube
column. Otherwise, this ordering is not of much practical use.
The cube
module also provides a GiST index operator class for cube
values. A cube
GiST index can be used to search for values using the =
, &&
, @>
, and <@
operators in WHERE
clauses.
In addition, a cube
GiST index can be used to find nearest neighbors using the metric operators <>
, <#>
, and <=>
in ORDER BY
clauses. For example, the nearest neighbor of the 3D point (0.5, 0.5, 0.5) could be found efficiently with:
SELECT c FROM test ORDER BY c <> cube(array[0.5,0.5,0.5]) LIMIT 1;
The ~>
operator can also be used in this way to efficiently retrieve the first few values sorted by a selected coordinate. For example, to get the first few cubes ordered by the first coordinate (lower left corner) ascending one could use the following query:
SELECT c FROM test ORDER BY c ~> 1 LIMIT 5;
And to get 2D cubes ordered by the first coordinate of the upper right corner descending:
SELECT c FROM test ORDER BY c ~> 3 DESC LIMIT 5;
Table F.4 shows the available functions.
Table F.4. Cube Functions
Function Description Example(s) 

Makes a one dimensional cube with both coordinates the same.

Makes a one dimensional cube.

Makes a zerovolume cube using the coordinates defined by the array.

Makes a cube with upper right and lower left coordinates as defined by the two arrays, which must be of the same length.

Makes a new cube by adding a dimension on to an existing cube, with the same values for both endpoints of the new coordinate. This is useful for building cubes piece by piece from calculated values.

Makes a new cube by adding a dimension on to an existing cube. This is useful for building cubes piece by piece from calculated values.

Returns the number of dimensions of the cube.

Returns the

Returns the

Returns true if the cube is a point, that is, the two defining corners are the same.

Returns the distance between two cubes. If both cubes are points, this is the normal distance function.

Makes a new cube from an existing cube, using a list of dimension indexes from an array. Can be used to extract the endpoints of a single dimension, or to drop dimensions, or to reorder them as desired.

Produces the union of two cubes.

Produces the intersection of two cubes.

Increases the size of the cube by the specified radius

F.11.4. Defaults #
This union:
select cube_union('(0,5,2),(2,3,1)', '0'); cube_union  (0, 0, 0),(2, 5, 2) (1 row)
does not contradict common sense, neither does the intersection:
select cube_inter('(0,1),(1,1)', '(2),(2)'); cube_inter  (0, 0),(1, 0) (1 row)
In all binary operations on differentlydimensioned cubes, the lowerdimensional one is assumed to be a Cartesian projection, i. e., having zeroes in place of coordinates omitted in the string representation. The above examples are equivalent to:
cube_union('(0,5,2),(2,3,1)','(0,0,0),(0,0,0)'); cube_inter('(0,1),(1,1)','(2,0),(2,0)');
The following containment predicate uses the point syntax, while in fact the second argument is internally represented by a box. This syntax makes it unnecessary to define a separate point type and functions for (box,point) predicates.
select cube_contains('(0,0),(1,1)', '0.5,0.5'); cube_contains  t (1 row)
F.11.5. Notes #
For examples of usage, see the regression test sql/cube.sql
.
To make it harder for people to break things, there is a limit of 100 on the number of dimensions of cubes. This is set in cubedata.h
if you need something bigger.
F.11.6. Credits #
Original author: Gene Selkov, Jr. <selkovjr@mcs.anl.gov>
, Mathematics and Computer Science Division, Argonne National Laboratory.
My thanks are primarily to Prof. Joe Hellerstein (https://dsf.berkeley.edu/jmh/) for elucidating the gist of the GiST (http://gist.cs.berkeley.edu/), and to his former student Andy Dong for his example written for Illustra. I am also grateful to all Postgres developers, present and past, for enabling myself to create my own world and live undisturbed in it. And I would like to acknowledge my gratitude to Argonne Lab and to the U.S. Department of Energy for the years of faithful support of my database research.
Minor updates to this package were made by Bruno Wolff III <bruno@wolff.to>
in August/September of 2002. These include changing the precision from single precision to double precision and adding some new functions.
Additional updates were made by Joshua Reich <josh@root.net>
in July 2006. These include cube(float8[], float8[])
and cleaning up the code to use the V1 call protocol instead of the deprecated V0 protocol.