Expressions, functions, and operators

Manticore lets you use arbitrary arithmetic expressions both via SphinxQL and SphinxAPI, involving attribute values, internal attributes (document ID and relevance weight), arithmetic operations, a number of built-in functions, and user-defined functions. This section documents the supported operators and functions. Here’s the complete reference list for quick access.


  • Arithmetic operators: +, -, *, /, %, DIV, MOD

    The standard arithmetic operators. Arithmetic calculations involving those can be performed in three different modes: (a) using single-precision, 32-bit IEEE 754 floating point values (the default), (**) using signed 32-bit integers, (c) using 64-bit signed integers. The expression parser will automatically switch to integer mode if there are no operations the result in a floating point value. Otherwise, it will use the default floating point mode. For instance, a+b will be computed using 32-bit integers if both arguments are 32-bit integers; or using 64-bit integers if both arguments are integers but one of them is 64-bit; or in floats otherwise. However, a/** or sqrt(a) will always be computed in floats, because these operations return a result of non-integer type. To avoid the first, you can either use IDIV(a,b) or a DIV b form. Also, a*b will not be automatically promoted to 64-bit when the arguments are 32-bit. To enforce 64-bit results, you can use BIGINT(). (But note that if there are non-integer operations, BIGINT() will simply be ignored.)

  • Comparison operators: <, > <=, >=, =, <>

    Comparison operators (eg. = or <=) return 1.0 when the condition is true and 0.0 otherwise. For instance, (a=b)+3 will evaluate to 4 when attribute ‘a’ is equal to attribute ‘b’, and to 3 when ‘a’ is not. Unlike MySQL, the equality comparisons (ie. = and <> operators) introduce a small equality threshold (1e-6 by default). If the difference between compared values is within the threshold, they will be considered equal.

  • Boolean operators: AND, OR, NOT

    Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) behave as usual. They are left-associative and have the least priority compared to other operators. NOT has more priority than AND and OR but nevertheless less than any other operator. AND and OR have the same priority so brackets use is recommended to avoid confusion in complex expressions.

  • Bitwise operators: &, |

    These operators perform bitwise AND and OR respectively. The operands must be of an integer types.

Numeric functions

  • ABS()

    Returns the absolute value of the argument.

  • BITDOT()

    BITDOT(mask, w0, w1, …) returns the sum of products of an each bit of a mask multiplied with its weight. bit0*w0 + bit1*w1 + ...

  • BM25F()

    BM25F(k1,b, {field=weight, …}) returns precise BM25F(). Requires expr ranker. k and b parameters must be float.

  • CEIL()

    Returns the smallest integer value greater or equal to the argument.


    CONTAINS(polygon, x, y) checks whether the (x,y) point is within the given polygon, and returns 1 if true, or 0 if false. The polygon has to be specified using either the POLY2D() function or the GEOPOLY2D() function. The former function is intended for “small” polygons, meaning less than 500 km (300 miles) a side, and it doesn’t take into account the Earth’s curvature for speed. For larger distances, you should use GEOPOLY2D, which tessellates the given polygon in smaller parts, accounting for the Earth’s curvature.

  • COS()

    Returns the cosine of the argument.

  • DOUBLE() Forcibly promotes given argument to floating point type. Intended to help enforce evaluation of numeric JSON fields.
  • EXP()

    Returns the exponent of the argument (e=2.718… to the power of the argument).


    Returns the N-th Fibonacci number, where N is the integer argument. That is, arguments of 0 and up will generate the values 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 and so on. Note that the computations are done using 32-bit integer math and thus numbers 48th and up will be returned modulo 2^32.

  • FLOOR()

    Returns the largest integer value lesser or equal to the argument.


    GEOPOLY2D(x1,y1,x2,y2,x3,y3…) produces a polygon to be used with the CONTAINS() function. This function takes into account the Earth’s curvature by tessellating the polygon into smaller ones, and should be used for larger areas; see the POLY2D() function. The function expects coordinates to be in degrees, if radians are used it will give same result as POLY2D().

  • IDIV()

    Returns the result of an integer division of the first argument by the second argument. Both arguments must be of an integer type.

  • LN()

    Returns the natural logarithm of the argument (with the base of e=2.718…).

  • LOG10()

    Returns the common logarithm of the argument (with the base of 10).

  • LOG2()

    Returns the binary logarithm of the argument (with the base of 2).

  • MAX()

    Returns the bigger of two arguments.

  • MIN()

    Returns the smaller of two arguments.

  • POLY2D()

    POLY2D(x1,y1,x2,y2,x3,y3…) produces a polygon to be used with the CONTAINS() function. This polygon assumes a flat Earth, so it should not be too large; see the POLY2D() function.

  • POW()

    Returns the first argument raised to the power of the second argument.

  • SIN()

    Returns the sine of the argument.

  • SQRT()

    Returns the square root of the argument.

  • UINT()

    Forcibly reinterprets given argument to 64-bit unsigned type.

Date and time functions

  • DAY()

    Returns the integer day of month (in 1..31 range) from a timestamp argument, according to the current timezone.

  • MONTH()

    Returns the integer month (in 1..12 range) from a timestamp argument, according to the current timezone.

  • NOW()

    Returns the current timestamp as an INTEGER.

  • YEAR()

    Returns the integer year (in 1969..2038 range) from a timestamp argument, according to the current timezone.


    Returns the integer year and month code (in 196912..203801 range) from a timestamp argument, according to the current timezone.


    Returns the integer year, month, and date code (in 19691231..20380119 range) from a timestamp argument, according to the current timezone.

  • SECOND()

    Returns the integer second (in 0..59 range) from a timestamp argument, according to the current timezone.

  • MINUTE()

    Returns the integer minute (in 0..59 range) from a timestamp argument, according to the current timezone.

  • HOUR()

    Returns the integer hour (in 0..23 range) from a timestamp argument, according to the current timezone.

Type conversion functions

  • BIGINT()

    Forcibly promotes the integer argument to 64-bit type, and does nothing on floating point argument. It’s intended to help enforce evaluation of certain expressions (such as a*b) in 64-bit mode even though all the arguments are 32-bit.


    Forcibly promotes given argument to 64-bit signed type. Intended to help enforce evaluation of numeric JSON fields.

  • SINT()

    Forcibly reinterprets its 32-bit unsigned integer argument as signed, and also expands it to 64-bit type (because 32-bit type is unsigned). It’s easily illustrated by the following example: 1-2 normally evaluates to 4294967295, but SINT(1-2) evaluates to -1.


    Forcibly promotes the argument to string type.

Comparison functions

  • IF()

    IF() behavior is slightly different that that of its MySQL counterpart. It takes 3 arguments, check whether the 1st argument is equal to 0.0, returns the 2nd argument if it is not zero, or the 3rd one when it is. Note that unlike comparison operators, IF() does not use a threshold! Therefore, it’s safe to use comparison results as its 1st argument, but arithmetic operators might produce unexpected results. For instance, the following two calls will produce different results even though they are logically equivalent:

    IF ( sqrt(3)*sqrt(3)-3<>0, a, b )
    IF ( sqrt(3)*sqrt(3)-3, a, b )

In the first case, the comparison operator <> will return 0.0 (false)
because of a threshold, and ``IF()`` will always return ‘**’ as a
result. In the second one, the same ``sqrt(3)*sqrt(3)-3`` expression
will be compared with zero *without* threshold by the ``IF()``
function itself. But its value will be slightly different from zero
because of limited floating point calculations precision. Because of
that, the comparison with 0.0 done by ``IF()`` will not pass, and the
second variant will return ‘a’ as a result.
  • IN()

    IN(expr,val1,val2,…) takes 2 or more arguments, and returns 1 if 1st argument (expr) is equal to any of the other arguments (val1..valN), or 0 otherwise. Currently, all the checked values (but not the expression itself!) are required to be constant. (Its technically possible to implement arbitrary expressions too, and that might be implemented in the future.) Constants are pre-sorted and then binary search is used, so IN() even against a big arbitrary list of constants will be very quick. First argument can also be a MVA attribute. In that case, IN() will return 1 if any of the MVA values is equal to any of the other arguments. IN() also supports IN(expr,@uservar) syntax to check whether the value belongs to the list in the given global user variable. First argument can be JSON attribute.


    INTERVAL(expr,point1,point2,point3,…), takes 2 or more arguments, and returns the index of the argument that is less than the first argument: it returns 0 if expr<point1, 1 if point1<=expr<point2, and so on. It is required that point1<point2<…<pointN for this function to work correctly.

Miscellaneous functions

  • ALL()

    ALL(cond FOR var IN json.array) applies to JSON arrays and returns 1 if condition is true for all elements in array and 0 otherwise. ‘cond’ is a general expression which additionally can use ‘var’ as current value of an array element within itself.

    SELECT ALL(x>3 AND x<7 FOR x IN j.intarray) FROM test;

    ALL(mva) is a special constructor for multi value attributes. When used in conjunction with comparison operators it returns 1 if all values compared are found among the MVA values.

    SELECT * FROM test WHERE ALL(mymva)>10;
  • ANY()

    ANY(cond FOR var IN json.array) works similar to ALL() except for it returns 1 if condition is true for any element in array.

    ANY(mva) is a special constructor for multi value attributes. When used in conjunction with comparison operators it returns 1 if any of the values compared are found among the MVA values. ANY is used by default if no constructor is used, however a warning will be raised about missing constructor.

  • ATAN2()

    Returns the arctangent function of two arguments, expressed in radians.

  • CRC32()

    Returns the CRC32 value of a string argument.


    GEODIST(lat1, lon1, lat2, lon2, […]) function computes geosphere distance between two given points specified by their coordinates. Note that by default both latitudes and longitudes must be in radians and the result will be in meters. You can use arbitrary expression as any of the four coordinates. An optimized path will be selected when one pair of the arguments refers directly to a pair attributes and the other one is constant.

    GEODIST() also takes an optional 5th argument that lets you easily convert between input and output units, and pick the specific geodistance formula to use. The complete syntax and a few examples are as follows:

    GEODIST(lat1, lon1, lat2, lon2, { option=value, ... })
    GEODIST(40.7643929, -73.9997683, 40.7642578, -73.9994565, {in=degrees, out=feet})
    GEODIST(51.50, -0.12, 29.98, 31.13, {in=deg, out=mi}}

    The known options and their values are:

    • in = {deg | degrees | rad | radians}, specifies the input units;
    • out = {m | meters | km | kilometers | ft | feet | mi | miles}, specifies the output units;
    • method = {adaptive | haversine}, specifies the geodistance calculation method.

    The default method is “adaptive”. It is well optimized implementation that is both more precise and much faster at all times than “haversine”.


    GREATEST(attr_json.some_array) function takes JSON array as the argument, and returns the greatest value in that array. Also works for MVA.


    INDEXOF(cond FOR var IN json.array) function iterates through all elements in array and returns index of first element for which ‘cond’ is true and -1 if ‘cond’ is false for every element in array.

SELECT INDEXOF(name='John' FOR name IN j.peoples) FROM test;
  • LEAST()

    LEAST(attr_json.some_array) function takes JSON array as the argument, and returns the least value in that array. Also works for MVA.

  • LENGTH()

    LENGTH(attr_mva) function returns amount of elements in MVA set. It works with both 32-bit and 64-bit MVA attributes. LENGTH(attr_json) returns length of a field in JSON. Return value depends on type of a field. For example LENGTH(json_attr.some_int) always returns 1 and LENGTH(json_attr.some_array) returns number of elements in array.


    Returns sort key value of the worst found element in the current top-N matches if sort key is float and 0 otherwise.

  • MIN_TOP_WEIGHT() Returns weight of the worst found element in the current top-N matches.
  • WEIGHT() Returns fulltext match score.

    PACKEDFACTORS() can be used in queries, either to just see all the weighting factors calculated when doing the matching, or to provide a binary attribute that can be used to write a custom ranking UDF. This function works only if expression ranker is specified and the query is not a full scan, otherwise it will return an error. PACKEDFACTORS() can take an optional argument that disables ATC ranking factor calculation:


    Calculating ATC slows down query processing considerably, so this option can be useful if you need to see the ranking factors, but do not need ATC. PACKEDFACTORS() can also be told to format its output as JSON:


    The respective outputs in either key-value pair or JSON format would look as follows below. (Note that the examples below are wrapped for readability; actual returned values would be single-line.)

    mysql> SELECT id, PACKEDFACTORS() FROM test1
        -> WHERE MATCH('test one') OPTION ranker=expr('1') \G
    *************************** 1\. row ***************************
                 id: 1
    packedfactors(): bm25=569, bm25a=0.617197, field_mask=2, doc_word_count=2,
        field1=(lcs=1, hit_count=2, word_count=2, tf_idf=0.152356,
            min_idf=-0.062982, max_idf=0.215338, sum_idf=0.152356, min_hit_pos=4,
            min_best_span_pos=4, exact_hit=0, max_window_hits=1, min_gaps=2,
            exact_order=1, lccs=1, wlccs=0.215338, atc=-0.003974),
        word0=(tf=1, idf=-0.062982),
        word1=(tf=1, idf=0.215338)
    1 row in set (0.00 sec)
    mysql> SELECT id, PACKEDFACTORS({json=1}) FROM test1
        -> WHERE MATCH('test one') OPTION ranker=expr('1') \G
    *************************** 1\. row ***************************
                         id: 1
        "bm25": 569,
        "bm25a": 0.617197,
        "field_mask": 2,
        "doc_word_count": 2,
        "fields": [
                "lcs": 1,
                "hit_count": 2,
                "word_count": 2,
                "tf_idf": 0.152356,
                "min_idf": -0.062982,
                "max_idf": 0.215338,
                "sum_idf": 0.152356,
                "min_hit_pos": 4,
                "min_best_span_pos": 4,
                "exact_hit": 0,
                "max_window_hits": 1,
                "min_gaps": 2,
                "exact_order": 1,
                "lccs": 1,
                "wlccs": 0.215338,
                "atc": -0.003974
        "words": [
                "tf": 1,
                "idf": -0.062982
                "tf": 1,
                "idf": 0.215338
    1 row in set (0.01 sec)

    This function can be used to implement custom ranking functions in UDFs, as in

    FROM my_index
    WHERE match('hello')
    OPTION ranker=expr('1');

    Where CUSTOM_RANK() is a function implemented in an UDF. It should declare a SPH_UDF_FACTORS structure (defined in sphinxudf.h), initialize this structure, unpack the factors into it before usage, and deinitialize it afterwards, as follows:

    SPH_UDF_FACTORS factors;
    sphinx_factors_unpack((DWORD*)args->arg_values[0], &factors);
    // ... can use the contents of factors variable here ...

    PACKEDFACTORS() data is available at all query stages, not just when doing the initial matching and ranking pass. That enables another particularly interesting application of PACKEDFACTORS(), namely re-ranking.

    In the example just above, we used an expression-based ranker with a dummy expression, and sorted the result set by the value computed by our UDF. In other words, we used the UDF to rank all our results. Assume now, for the sake of an example, that our UDF is extremely expensive to compute and has a throughput of just 10,000 calls per second. Assume that our query matches 1,000,000 documents. To maintain reasonable performance, we would then want to use a (much) simpler expression to do most of our ranking, and then apply the expensive UDF to only a few top results, say, top-100 results. Or, in other words, build top-100 results using a simpler ranking function and then re-rank those with a complex one. We can do that just as well with subselects:

        FROM my_index WHERE match('hello')
        OPTION ranker=expr('sum(lcs)*1000+bm25')
        LIMIT 100

    In this example, expression-based ranker will be called for every matched document to compute WEIGHT(). So it will get called 1,000,000 times. But the UDF computation can be postponed until the outer sort. And it also will be done for just the top-100 matches by WEIGHT(), according to the inner limit. So the UDF will only get called 100 times. And then the final top-10 matches by UDF value will be selected and returned to the application.

    For reference, in the distributed case PACKEDFACTORS() data gets sent from the agents to master in a binary format, too. This makes it technically feasible to implement additional re-ranking pass (or passes) on the master node, if needed.

    If used with SphinxQL but not called from any UDFs, the result of PACKEDFACTORS() is simply formatted as plain text, which can be used to manually assess the ranking factors. Note that this feature is not currently supported by the Manticore API.

  • REMAP()

    REMAP(condition, expression, (cond1, cond2, …), (expr1, expr2, …)) function allows you to make some exceptions of an expression values depending on condition values. Condition expression should always result integer, expression can result in integer or float.

SELECT REMAP(userid, karmapoints, (1, 67), (999, 0)) FROM users;
SELECT REMAP(id%10, salary, (0), (0.0)) FROM employes;
  • rand()

    RAND(seed) function returns a random float between 0..1. Optional, an integer seed value can be specified.