The Future of Data Management: Using GENERATED Data Columns in PostgreSQL

Brief Overview of Data Management and Its Importance in Today’s World

Data management is essential for all types of businesses, organizations, and individuals. In today’s world, data has become one of the most valuable assets.

Every day, huge amounts of data are generated through various sources such as social media platforms, smartphone apps, online transactions, etc. Managing this data is important to make informed decisions about business strategies and operations. Effective data management involves a combination of processes and technologies that ensure the accuracy, completeness, security, and accessibility of data.

This includes storing data in an organized manner using databases such as PostgreSQL. By organizing data effectively through these databases, businesses can streamline their operations and enhance their decision-making processes.

Introduce the Concept of GENERATED Data Columns in PostgreSQL

PostgreSQL is a powerful open-source database management system used by various industries worldwide. It includes several advanced features that allow users to manage large-scale databases efficiently. One such feature is the use of GENERATED data columns.

GENERATED columns are virtual columns that can be added to a table in PostgreSQL. They are not physically stored on disk but rather calculated based on expressions defined during table creation or alteration.

There are three types of GENERATED columns: computed (based on an expression), identity (used for primary keys), and stored (computed once and then stored). With the increasing importance placed on efficient database management practices for businesses worldwide, understanding how to utilize these advanced features can provide significant advantages for both individuals and organizations alike.

What are GENERATED Data Columns?

PostgreSQL is a popular open-source relational database management system that offers a wide range of features and capabilities. One such feature is the ability to use GENERATED data columns, which provide users with greater flexibility and functionality in managing their data.

In simple terms, GENERATED data columns are virtual or computed columns that do not store any actual data but instead calculate their values on the fly based on certain expressions or functions. These types of columns can be used to perform complex computations on existing data, generate unique identifiers for each row in a table, or enforce constraints on specific fields.

Compared to other types of columns like regular columns or computed columns, GENERATED data columns offer several advantages. Firstly, they save storage space and reduce the overall size of the database because they don’t store any actual data.

Secondly, they can be used to simplify complex calculations by generating values automatically based on predefined rules and expressions. They offer greater control over the type and format of the generated values.

Comparison with Other Types of Columns in PostgreSQL

To better understand how GENERATED data columns work in PostgreSQL, it’s helpful to compare them with other types of columns available in the system. Regular or base table columns are standard SQL constructs that store actual values for each column in a table.

Computed or derived table columns are similar to regular table columns but instead derive their value from an expression or function based on one or more other column values within the same row. On the other hand, GENERATED data columns differ from both regular and computed table columns because they do not store any physical value for each row but instead calculate it virtually on-the-fly when queried.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Generated Data Columns

There are several advantages to using GENERATED data columns over traditional table column types like regular and computed tables: – Reduced storage requirements: Since GENERATED data columns don’t store any actual data, they take up less storage space and thus reduce the overall size of the database. – Increased flexibility: GENERATED data columns can be used to perform complex calculations, generate unique identifiers, or enforce constraints on specific fields.

This provides greater flexibility in managing and manipulating data. – Enhanced performance: The use of GENERATED data columns can result in improved query performance because it eliminates the need to calculate values during runtime.

However, there are also some potential disadvantages that should be considered when using GENERATED data columns. For instance, they may not be compatible with other versions of PostgreSQL or other database management systems.

Additionally, the complexity of generated column expressions may impact query execution time and overall system performance. It is important to weigh these factors against the specific use case when deciding whether or not to use GENERATED data columns in a project.

How to Use GENERATED Data Columns in PostgreSQL

Now that we have a good understanding of what GENERATED data columns are, let’s dive into how to use them in PostgreSQL. Creating a table with a GENERATED column is relatively straightforward and requires only a few extra parameters. The syntax for creating a table with a generated column is as follows: “`

CREATE TABLE table_name ( column_name data_type GENERATED ALWAYS AS (expression) STORED, … ); “`

The `GENERATED ALWAYS` clause specifies that the value of the column will be generated automatically based on an expression or function. The `AS` keyword is used to define the expression, which can be any valid SQL expression or function that returns a value.

The `STORED` clause specifies that the value will be stored rather than computed at runtime. Let’s take a more detailed look at each of these parameters and how they can be used to create different types of generated columns.

Step-by-Step Guide

To create a simple computed generated column, we could use the following example: “` CREATE TABLE employees (


last_name VARCHAR(50) NOT NULL, email VARCHAR(100),

full_name VARCHAR(100) GENERATED ALWAYS AS (first_name || ‘ ‘ || last_name) STORED ); “` This creates an `employees` table with four columns: `id`, `first_name`, `last_name`, and `email`.

We also define a new column called `full_name`, which is computed based on the values of the `first_name` and `last_name` columns using string concatenation. The resulting string is then stored in the new column.

Computed Generated Columns

Computed generated columns are probably the most commonly used type of GENERATED column in PostgreSQL. They are useful when you need to perform calculations or combine values from multiple columns to generate a new value. In addition to string concatenation, you can use functions like `SUM`, `AVG`, or `MAX` to perform more complex calculations.

Identity Generated Columns

Identity generated columns are another type of GENERATED column that can be very useful in certain situations. They are similar to auto-incrementing primary keys in other databases and are often used for unique identifiers or sequence numbers.

To create an identity generated column, we can use the following syntax: “` CREATE TABLE orders ( order_id BIGINT GENERATED ALWAYS AS IDENTITY PRIMARY KEY, … ); “`

This creates an `orders` table with an `order_id` column that is automatically generated and serves as the primary key for the table. By default, identity columns start at 1 and increment by 1 for each new row inserted into the table.

Stored Generated Columns

Stored generated columns allow you to define a computed value that is stored in the table rather than being computed at runtime. This can improve query performance by reducing the amount of computation required when selecting data from the table.

To create a stored generated column, we can use the following example: “` CREATE TABLE products (


price NUMERIC(10,2), vat_rate NUMERIC(4,2),

net_price NUMERIC(10,2) GENERATED ALWAYS AS (price * (1 + vat_rate)) STORED ); “` This creates a `products` table with four columns: `id`, `name`, `price`, and `vat_rate`.

We also define a new column called `net_price`, which is computed based on the values of the `price` and `vat_rate` columns using multiplication. The resulting value is then stored in the new column.


GENERATED data columns are a powerful feature of PostgreSQL that can greatly simplify data management and improve query performance. By using computed, identity, and stored generated columns, you can automate the generation of values for your tables and reduce the amount of computation required when selecting data. With a little practice, you’ll soon be able to harness the full power of GENERATED data columns in your own PostgreSQL databases.

Benefits of using GENERATED data columns in PostgreSQL

Improved Performance and Efficiency due to Reduced Storage Requirements

One of the biggest advantages of using GENERATED data columns in PostgreSQL is improved performance and efficiency. When you create a table with a GENERATED column, the data is generated automatically based on a specified expression or function.

This means that you don’t need to store the actual values for these columns, which can significantly reduce storage requirements. For example, if you have a table with millions of rows and several computed columns, storing all those computed values could take up a lot of space.

Instead, by using GENERATED data columns, you can generate those values on-the-fly when they’re needed without having to store them at all. This not only reduces storage requirements but also improves query performance since the database doesn’t need to fetch as much data from disk.

Increased Flexibility for Complex Calculations

Another benefit of using GENERATED data columns is increased flexibility for complex calculations. Computed GENERATED columns allow you to perform calculations or transformations on existing data in your table based on custom expressions or functions.

This means that you can create more sophisticated models and analytics without having to manually calculate each value every time new data is added. For example, if you’re tracking sales figures across different regions, you can use a computed column to automatically calculate the total sales for each region without having to manually sum up each transaction.

Additionally, stored GENERATED columns allow you to persist calculated or transformed values in your table so that they’re always available for querying. This makes it easier to create complex reports or analytics that rely on specific calculated values without having to repeat those computations every time.

Enhanced Security through the Use of Identity Generated Columns

Another important benefit of using GENERATED data columns is enhanced security through the use of identity generated columns. An identity generated column is a special type of GENERATED column that automatically generates a unique, sequential value for each row in your table.

This means that you can use identity generated columns as primary keys or other unique identifiers without having to worry about collisions or conflicts. Since the database generates these values automatically, there’s no need to rely on external sources like UUIDs or GUIDs which could potentially be compromised.

In addition to providing a more secure way to manage data, identity generated columns also offer improved performance over traditional methods since they’re optimized for sequential writes and reads. This can be especially useful in high-volume applications where performance is critical.

Real-world applications and use cases for GENERATED data columns

Now that we have discussed the technical aspects of GENERATED data columns in PostgreSQL, let us explore their practical applications and use cases in different industries. In particular, we will focus on finance, healthcare, and e-commerce as these are areas where data management is critical to success.

The Financial Industry: Managing Complex Calculations with Ease

The financial industry is one of the most data-intensive sectors. Financial institutions need to track transactions, monitor risk factors, and comply with regulatory requirements that vary from country to country. As such, they must use advanced database systems that can handle large volumes of data and perform complex calculations quickly.

With GENERATED data columns in PostgreSQL, finance companies can streamline their workflows by automating calculations that were previously performed manually. For example, banks can use identity generated columns to assign unique identifiers to customer accounts or computed generated columns to calculate interest rates based on specific formulas.

The Healthcare Industry: Improved Patient Outcomes through Advanced Data Management

A key challenge facing healthcare providers today is managing patient data securely while ensuring fast access for authorized users. The rise of electronic health records (EHRs) has made it easier for physicians to keep track of patients’ medical histories, but at the same time has increased the complexity of managing this information. By using stored generated columns in PostgreSQL, healthcare organizations can create customized views of patient information that simplify decision-making for physicians.

For example, a hospital might create a table containing patient demographic information along with computed generated columns for common lab results such as blood pressure or glucose levels. This would allow doctors to quickly identify patients who are at risk for specific health conditions and provide targeted treatment options.

The E-commerce Industry: Personalizing Customer Experiences through Smart Data Management

In the e-commerce industry, data management is essential for providing customers with personalized experiences. Companies need to be able to collect and analyze large amounts of user data to understand customer preferences and behavior.

With GENERATED data columns in PostgreSQL, e-commerce businesses can create dynamic product recommendations based on a customer’s browsing history or purchase behavior. For example, a clothing retailer might use computed generated columns to recommend outfits that match a customer’s previous purchases or stored generated columns to show the availability of different sizes and colors for each item.

In addition, using identity generated columns can help prevent fraud by assigning unique identifiers to each order or customer account. This makes it easier for businesses to track suspicious activity and protect their customers’ personal information.

Discussion on how businesses can leverage these features to improve their operations

Overall, GENERATED data columns in PostgreSQL offer businesses significant advantages in terms of performance, flexibility, and security. By leveraging these features effectively, companies can improve their workflows and decision-making processes while delivering better products and services to customers.

To get the most out of GENERATED data columns in PostgreSQL, businesses should invest in training their staff on how to use these features effectively. They should also work closely with database administrators and developers to ensure that their systems are optimized for maximum efficiency.

In addition, companies must be mindful of potential challenges such as compatibility issues with different versions of PostgreSQL or limitations on the types of computations that can be performed using GENERATED data columns. By staying up-to-date with best practices and seeking expert guidance when needed, businesses can overcome these challenges while reaping the benefits of advanced data management techniques.

Challenges and Limitations of using GENERATED Data Columns

Potential Issues with Compatibility Across Different Versions of PostgreSQL

One of the major challenges when using GENERATED data columns in PostgreSQL is the issue of compatibility across different versions of the software. Newer versions of PostgreSQL may have additional features and capabilities that are not available in older versions, which can lead to issues when trying to use generated columns from one version in another.

To avoid compatibility issues, it’s important to keep track of which version of PostgreSQL was used to create each table that contains a generated column. This will allow you to ensure that you are using the correct version when accessing or modifying data in those tables.

Limitations on the Types of Computations that Can Be Performed

Another limitation of GENERATED data columns is that there are certain types of computations that cannot be performed using this feature. For example, while computed generated columns can perform basic arithmetic operations and string concatenation, they cannot perform more complex calculations such as trigonometric functions or date/time manipulations. Additionally, there are limitations on the types of expressions that can be used in computed generated columns.

For example, expressions involving aggregate functions or subqueries are not allowed. It’s important to carefully consider these limitations when designing tables with generated columns so that you don’t run into unexpected errors down the line.


Overall, GENERATED data columns represent a powerful tool for managing complex data sets in PostgreSQL. By automating common calculations and reducing storage requirements, they can help improve performance and reduce errors in your database management processes.

However, it’s important to be aware of the potential challenges and limitations associated with this feature. Ensuring compatibility across different versions of PostgreSQL and carefully considering which types of computations can be performed will help you get the most out of your generated columns while minimizing potential issues.

As with any new technology or feature, it’s important to continue monitoring developments in the field and staying up-to-date on best practices for using GENERATED data columns in your PostgreSQL database management processes. With careful planning and consideration, you can leverage the power of this exciting feature to drive success in your business or organization.


Summary of Key Takeaways from the Article

In this article, we explored the future of data management in PostgreSQL and the use of GENERATED data columns. We defined GENERATED data columns, their advantages, and how to use them in practice.

We also discussed their real-world applications across various industries and provided examples of complex calculations that can be performed using generated columns. One key takeaway is that GENERATED data columns can significantly improve performance and efficiency while reducing storage requirements.

They offer increased flexibility for complex computations, enabling businesses to perform more sophisticated analyses with ease. Additionally, identity generated columns provide enhanced security features.

Final Thoughts

The world of data management is constantly evolving, and GENERATED data columns in PostgreSQL represent a significant step forward in this field. As businesses continue to generate increasing amounts of data, it’s necessary to have efficient methods for storing and analyzing it. While there are some limitations to the use of GENERATED columns in PostgreSQL, such as compatibility issues across different versions or constraints on certain computations that can be performed with them, the benefits far outweigh any potential challenges.

Overall, by using GENERATED data columns in PostgreSQL databases, businesses can unlock new insights from their vast stores of information while improving performance and security. As technology continues to advance rapidly in this field, we can expect even more exciting developments on the horizon for the future of data management.

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