# 9.24. Set Returning Functions

This section describes functions that possibly return more than one row. The most widely used functions in this class are series generating functions, as detailed in Table 9-57 and Table 9-58. Other, more specialized set-returning functions are described elsewhere in this manual. See Section 7.2.1.4 for ways to combine multiple set-returning functions.

Table 9-57. Series Generating Functions

FunctionArgument TypeReturn TypeDescription
`generate_series(start, stop)`int, bigint or numericsetof int, setof bigint, or setof numeric (same as argument type) Generate a series of values, from start to stop with a step size of one
`generate_series(start, stop, step)`int, bigint or numericsetof int, setof bigint or setof numeric (same as argument type) Generate a series of values, from start to stop with a step size of step
`generate_series(start, stop, step interval)`timestamp or timestamp with time zonesetof timestamp or setof timestamp with time zone (same as argument type) Generate a series of values, from start to stop with a step size of step

When step is positive, zero rows are returned if start is greater than stop. Conversely, when step is negative, zero rows are returned if start is less than stop. Zero rows are also returned for NULL inputs. It is an error for step to be zero. Some examples follow:

```SELECT * FROM generate_series(2,4);
generate_series
-----------------
2
3
4
(3 rows)

SELECT * FROM generate_series(5,1,-2);
generate_series
-----------------
5
3
1
(3 rows)

SELECT * FROM generate_series(4,3);
generate_series
-----------------
(0 rows)

SELECT generate_series(1.1, 4, 1.3);
generate_series
-----------------
1.1
2.4
3.7
(3 rows)

-- this example relies on the date-plus-integer operator
SELECT current_date + s.a AS dates FROM generate_series(0,14,7) AS s(a);
dates
------------
2004-02-05
2004-02-12
2004-02-19
(3 rows)

SELECT * FROM generate_series('2008-03-01 00:00'::timestamp,
'2008-03-04 12:00', '10 hours');
generate_series
---------------------
2008-03-01 00:00:00
2008-03-01 10:00:00
2008-03-01 20:00:00
2008-03-02 06:00:00
2008-03-02 16:00:00
2008-03-03 02:00:00
2008-03-03 12:00:00
2008-03-03 22:00:00
2008-03-04 08:00:00
(9 rows)```

Table 9-58. Subscript Generating Functions

FunctionReturn TypeDescription
`generate_subscripts(array anyarray, dim int)`setof int Generate a series comprising the given array's subscripts.
`generate_subscripts(array anyarray, dim int, reverse boolean)`setof int Generate a series comprising the given array's subscripts. When reverse is true, the series is returned in reverse order.

`generate_subscripts` is a convenience function that generates the set of valid subscripts for the specified dimension of the given array. Zero rows are returned for arrays that do not have the requested dimension, or for NULL arrays (but valid subscripts are returned for NULL array elements). Some examples follow:

```-- basic usage
SELECT generate_subscripts('{NULL,1,NULL,2}'::int[], 1) AS s;
s
---
1
2
3
4
(4 rows)

-- presenting an array, the subscript and the subscripted
-- value requires a subquery
SELECT * FROM arrays;
a
--------------------
{-1,-2}
{100,200,300}
(2 rows)

SELECT a AS array, s AS subscript, a[s] AS value
FROM (SELECT generate_subscripts(a, 1) AS s, a FROM arrays) foo;
array     | subscript | value
---------------+-----------+-------
{-1,-2}       |         1 |    -1
{-1,-2}       |         2 |    -2
{100,200,300} |         1 |   100
{100,200,300} |         2 |   200
{100,200,300} |         3 |   300
(5 rows)

-- unnest a 2D array
CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION unnest2(anyarray)
RETURNS SETOF anyelement AS \$\$
select \$1[i][j]
from generate_subscripts(\$1,1) g1(i),
generate_subscripts(\$1,2) g2(j);
\$\$ LANGUAGE sql IMMUTABLE;
CREATE FUNCTION
SELECT * FROM unnest2(ARRAY[[1,2],[3,4]]);
unnest2
---------
1
2
3
4
(4 rows)```

When a function in the FROM clause is suffixed by WITH ORDINALITY, a bigint column is appended to the output which starts from 1 and increments by 1 for each row of the function's output. This is most useful in the case of set returning functions such as `unnest()`.

```-- set returning function WITH ORDINALITY
SELECT * FROM pg_ls_dir('.') WITH ORDINALITY AS t(ls,n);
ls        | n
-----------------+----
pg_serial       |  1
pg_twophase     |  2
postmaster.opts |  3
pg_notify       |  4
postgresql.conf |  5
pg_tblspc       |  6
logfile         |  7
base            |  8
postmaster.pid  |  9
pg_ident.conf   | 10
global          | 11
pg_clog         | 12
pg_snapshots    | 13
pg_multixact    | 14
PG_VERSION      | 15
pg_xlog         | 16
pg_hba.conf     | 17
pg_stat_tmp     | 18
pg_subtrans     | 19
(19 rows)```