Case-Sensitive and Insensitive Searches for "postgresql" in PostgreSQL


LIKE Operator:

This is the simplest approach for basic substring checks. The LIKE operator allows you to specify a pattern that the string should match. The pattern can include wildcards:

  • % matches any sequence of characters (zero or more)
  • _ matches a single character

For example, to find rows where a column named "product_name" contains "book":

SELECT * FROM products
WHERE product_name LIKE '%book%';

This will return rows where "book" appears anywhere in the product name (e.g., "textbook", "storybook").

This operator is similar to LIKE but performs case-insensitive matching. This is useful when you don't care about the capitalization of the substring.

Here's how to rewrite the previous query using ILIKE:

SELECT * FROM products
WHERE product_name ILIKE '%Book%';

This will find rows containing "book", "Book", "BOOK", etc.

Additional Considerations:

  • Escape Characters: If your search string contains special characters that have meaning within the LIKE pattern (e.g., %, _, , etc.), you need to escape them using a backslash (\) to avoid misinterpretation.
  • Regular Expressions: For more complex pattern matching, PostgreSQL offers regular expressions with the ~ operator. This provides greater control over matching patterns, but the syntax can be more challenging to learn.


For more details and advanced options, refer to the PostgreSQL documentation on pattern matching:

Simple case-sensitive search with LIKE:

SELECT * FROM articles
WHERE content LIKE '%postgresql%';

This query selects all rows from the "articles" table where the "content" column contains the substring "postgresql" anywhere within the text (case-sensitive).

WHERE username ILIKE '%postgresql%';

This query selects all rows from the "users" table where the "username" column contains "postgresql" anywhere within the text, ignoring case. It will find usernames like "PostgreSQLUser", "postgresqlfan", etc.

Checking for exact match:

SELECT * FROM databases
WHERE name = 'postgresql';

This query selects all rows from the "databases" table where the "name" column exactly matches the string "postgresql".

Using LIKE with escape character:

SELECT * FROM code_snippets
WHERE code ~ '%\\.\\postgresql%';

This example assumes you have code stored in a "code_snippets" table. The LIKE operator is used with a backslash (\) to escape the dot (.) character. This ensures the search looks for ".postgresql" literally, not any character followed by "postgresql".

Substring Functions:

PostgreSQL offers functions like substring and strpos that can be used for more granular string manipulation:

  • substring(text, start, length): Extracts a specific substring from a text column. You can check if "postgresql" is within the extracted substring.
SELECT * FROM articles
WHERE substring(content, 1, 12) = 'postgresql';  -- Check first 12 characters
  • strpos(text, substring) - 1: Returns the starting position (zero-based) of the first occurrence of the substring within the text. A value greater than zero indicates the substring exists.
WHERE strpos(username, 'postgresql') - 1 > 0;

Full Text Search (FTS):

If you have a full-text search extension like pg_trgm installed, you can leverage it for more sophisticated text searches. This can be helpful for handling variations of "postgresql" (e.g., plsql, Postgres).

CREATE INDEX idx_content_fts ON articles USING gin(to_tsvector('english', content));

SELECT * FROM articles
WHERE to_tsvector('english', content) @@ to_tsquery('postgresql');

This creates a full-text search index on the "content" column and then uses a query to search for documents relevant to "postgresql".

Choosing the Right Method:

  • Simple Search: For basic substring checks, LIKE or ILIKE are often the easiest and most efficient options.
  • Granular Control: Substring functions offer more control over extracting specific parts of the string for comparison.
  • Full Text Search: When dealing with variations or searching across multiple words, FTS can be a powerful tool.


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