Vertica Analytics Platform Version 10.1.x Documentation


Vertica supports the numeric data type DOUBLE PRECISION, which is the IEEE-754 8-byte floating point type, along with most of the usual floating point operations.




On a machine whose floating-point arithmetic does not follow IEEE-754, these values probably do not work as expected.

Double precision is an inexact, variable-precision numeric type. In other words, some values cannot be represented exactly and are stored as approximations. Thus, input and output operations involving double precision might show slight discrepancies.

  • All of the DOUBLE PRECISION data types are synonyms for 64-bit IEEE FLOAT.
  • The n in FLOAT(n) must be between 1 and 53, inclusive, but a 53-bit fraction is always used. See the IEEE-754 standard for details.
  • For exact numeric storage and calculations (money for example), use NUMERIC.
  • Floating point calculations depend on the behavior of the underlying processor, operating system, and compiler.
  • Comparing two floating-point values for equality might not work as expected.
  • While Vertica treats decimal values as FLOAT internally, if a column is defined as FLOAT then you cannot read decimal values from ORC and Parquet files. In those formats, FLOAT and DECIMAL are different types.


COPY accepts floating-point data in the following format:

  • Optional leading white space
  • An optional plus ("+") or minus sign ("-")
  • A decimal number, a hexadecimal number, an infinity, a NAN, or a null value

Decimal Number

A decimal number consists of a non-empty sequence of decimal digits possibly containing a radix character (decimal point "."), optionally followed by a decimal exponent. A decimal exponent consists of an "E" or "e", followed by an optional plus or minus sign, followed by a non-empty sequence of decimal digits, and indicates multiplication by a power of 10.

Hexadecimal Number

A hexadecimal number consists of a "0x" or "0X" followed by a non-empty sequence of hexadecimal digits possibly containing a radix character, optionally followed by a binary exponent. A binary exponent consists of a "P" or "p", followed by an optional plus or minus sign, followed by a non-empty sequence of decimal digits, and indicates multiplication by a power of 2. At least one of radix character and binary exponent must be present.


An infinity is either INF or INFINITY, disregarding case.

NaN (Not A Number)

A NaN is NAN (disregarding case) optionally followed by a sequence of characters enclosed in parentheses. The character string specifies the value of NAN in an implementation-dependent manner. (The Vertica internal representation of NAN is 0xfff8000000000000LL on x86 machines.)

When writing infinity or NAN values as constants in a SQL statement, enclose them in single quotes. For example:

=> UPDATE table SET x = 'Infinity'

Vertica follows the IEEE definition of NaNs (IEEE 754). The SQL standards do not specify how floating point works in detail.

IEEE defines NaNs as a set of floating point values where each one is not equal to anything, even to itself. A NaN is not greater than and at the same time not less than anything, even itself. In other words, comparisons always return false whenever a NaN is involved.

However, for the purpose of sorting data, NaN values must be placed somewhere in the result. The value generated 'NaN' appears in the context of a floating point number matches the NaN value generated by the hardware. For example, Intel hardware generates (0xfff8000000000000LL), which is technically a Negative, Quiet, Non-signaling NaN.

Vertica uses a different NaN value to represent floating point NULL (0x7ffffffffffffffeLL). This is a Positive, Quiet, Non-signaling NaN and is reserved by Vertica

A NaN example follows.

=> SELECT CBRT('Nan'); -- cube root
(1 row)
=> SELECT 'Nan' > 1.0;
(1 row)

Null Value

The load file format of a null value is user defined, as described in the COPY command. The Vertica internal representation of a null value is 0x7fffffffffffffffLL. The interactive format is controlled by the vsql printing option null. For example:

\pset null '(null)'

The default option is not to print anything.


  • -0 == +0
  • 1/0 = Infinity
  • 0/0 == Nan
  • NaN != anything (even NaN)

To search for NaN column values, use the following predicate:

... WHERE column != column

This is necessary because WHERE column = 'Nan' cannot be true by definition.

Sort Order (Ascending)

  • NaN
  • -Inf
  • numbers
  • +Inf
  • NULL


  • NULL appears last (largest) in ascending order.
  • All overflows in floats generate +/-infinity or NaN, per the IEEE floating point standard.