CAST function

The CAST function converts a value from one data type to another and provides a data type to a dynamic parameter (?) or a NULL value.

CAST expressions are permitted anywhere expressions are permitted.

Syntax

CAST ( [ Expression | NULL | ? ]
    AS Datatype)

The data type to which you are casting an expression is the target type. The data type of the expression from which you are casting is the source type.

CAST conversions among SQL-92 data types

The following table shows valid explicit conversions between source types and target types for SQL data types. This table shows which explicit conversions between data types are valid. The first column on the table lists the source data types. The first row lists the target data types. A "Y" indicates that a conversion from the source to the target is valid. For example, the first cell in the second row lists the source data type SMALLINT. The remaining cells on the second row indicate the whether or not you can convert SMALLINT to the target data types that are listed in the first row of the table.

Table 1. Explicit conversions between source types and target types for SQL data types
Types

B
O
O
L
E
A
N

S
M
A
L
L
I
N
T

I
N
T
E
G
E
R

B
I
G
I
N
T

D
E
C
I
M
A
L

R
E
A
L

D
O
U
B
L
E

F
L
O
A
T

C
H
A
R

V
A
R
C
H
A
R

L
O
N
G

V
A
R
C
H
A
R

C
H
A
R

F
O
R

B
I
T

D
A
T
A

V
A
R
C
H
A
R

F
O
R

B
I
T

D
A
T
A

L
O
N
G

V
A
R
C
H
A
R

F
O
R

B
I
T

D
A
T
A

C
L
O
B

B
L
O
B

D
A
T
E

T
I
M
E

T
I
M
E
S
T
A
M
P

X
M
L

BOOLEAN Y - - - - - - - Y Y Y - - - Y - - - - -
SMALLINT - Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y - - - - - - - - - - -
INTEGER - Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y - - - - - - - - - - -
BIGINT - Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y - - - - - - - - - - -
DECIMAL - Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y - - - - - - - - - - -
REAL - Y Y Y Y Y Y Y - - - - - - - - - - - -
DOUBLE - Y Y Y Y Y Y Y - - - - - - - - - - - -
FLOAT - Y Y Y Y Y Y Y - - - - - - - - - - - -
CHAR Y Y Y Y Y - - - Y Y Y - - - Y - Y Y Y -
VARCHAR Y Y Y Y Y - - - Y Y Y - - - Y - Y Y Y -
LONG VARCHAR Y - - - - - - - Y Y Y - - - Y - - - - -
CHAR FOR BIT DATA - - - - - - - - - - - Y Y Y Y Y - - - -
VARCHAR FOR BIT DATA - - - - - - - - - - - Y Y Y Y Y - - - -
LONG VARCHAR FOR BIT DATA - - - - - - - - - - - Y Y Y Y Y - - - -
CLOB Y - - - - - - - Y Y Y - - - Y - - - - -
BLOB - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Y - - - -
DATE - - - - - - - - Y Y - - - - - - Y - - -
TIME - - - - - - - - Y Y - - - - - - - Y - -
TIMESTAMP - - - - - - - - Y Y - - - - - - Y Y Y -
XML - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Y

If a conversion is valid, CASTs are allowed. Size incompatibilities between the source and target types might cause runtime errors.

Notes

In this discussion, the SQLFire SQL-92 data types are categorized as follows:

Conversions to and from logical types

A BOOLEAN value can be cast explicitly to any of the string types. The result is 'true', 'false', or null. Conversely, string types can be cast to BOOLEAN. However, an error is raised if the string value is not 'true', 'false', 'unknown', or null. Casting 'unknown' to boolean results in a null value.

Conversions from numeric types

A numeric type can be converted to any other numeric type. If the target type cannot represent the non-fractional component without truncation, an exception is raised. If the target numeric cannot represent the fractional component (scale) of the source numeric, then the source is silently truncated to fit into the target. For example, casting 763.1234 as INTEGER yields 763.

Conversions from and to bit strings

Bit strings can be converted to other bit strings, but not character strings. Strings that are converted to bit strings are padded with trailing zeros to fit the size of the target bit string. The BLOB type is more limited and requires explicit casting. In most cases the BLOB type cannot be cast to and from other types.

Conversions of date/time values

A date/time value can always be converted to and from a TIMESTAMP. If a DATE is converted to a TIMESTAMP, the TIME component of the resulting TIMESTAMP is always 00:00:00. If a TIME data value is converted to a TIMESTAMP, the DATE component is set to the value of CURRENT_DATE at the time the CAST is executed. If a TIMESTAMP is converted to a DATE, the TIME component is silently truncated. If a TIMESTAMP is converted to a TIME, the DATE component is silently truncated.

Conversions of XML values

An XML value cannot be converted to any non-XML type using an explicit or implicit CAST. Use the XMLSERIALIZE operator to convert an XML type to a character type.

Examples

SELECT CAST (miles AS INT)
FROM Flights
-- convert timestamps to text
INSERT INTO mytable (text_column)
VALUES (CAST (CURRENT_TIMESTAMP AS VARCHAR(100)))
-- cast a double as a decimal
SELECT CAST (FLYING_TIME AS DECIMAL(5,2))
FROM FLIGHTS
-- cast a SMALLINT to a BIGINT
VALUES CAST (CAST (12 as SMALLINT) as BIGINT)