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Open-source vector similarity search for Postgres

CREATE TABLE items (embedding vector(3));
CREATE INDEX ON items USING ivfflat (embedding vector_l2_ops);
SELECT * FROM items ORDER BY embedding <-> '[1,2,3]' LIMIT 5;

Supports L2 distance, inner product, and cosine distance

Build Status


Compile and install the extension (supports Postgres 9.6+)

git clone --branch v0.2.7
cd pgvector
make install # may need sudo

Then load it in databases where you want to use it


You can also install it with Docker, Homebrew, or PGXN

Getting Started

Create a vector column with 3 dimensions

CREATE TABLE items (embedding vector(3));

Insert values

INSERT INTO items VALUES ('[1,2,3]'), ('[4,5,6]');

Get the nearest neighbor by L2 distance

SELECT * FROM items ORDER BY embedding <-> '[3,1,2]' LIMIT 1;

Also supports inner product (<#>) and cosine distance (<=>)

Note: <#> returns the negative inner product since Postgres only supports ASC order index scans on operators


Speed up queries with an approximate index. Add an index for each distance function you want to use.

L2 distance

CREATE INDEX ON items USING ivfflat (embedding vector_l2_ops);

Inner product

CREATE INDEX ON items USING ivfflat (embedding vector_ip_ops);

Cosine distance

CREATE INDEX ON items USING ivfflat (embedding vector_cosine_ops);

Indexes should be created after the table has some data for optimal clustering. Also, unlike typical indexes which only affect performance, you may see different results for queries after adding an approximate index.

Index Options

Specify the number of inverted lists (100 by default)

CREATE INDEX ON items USING ivfflat (embedding vector_l2_ops) WITH (lists = 100);

A good place to start is 4 * sqrt(rows)

Query Options

Specify the number of probes (1 by default)

SET ivfflat.probes = 1;

A higher value improves recall at the cost of speed.

Use SET LOCAL inside a transaction to set it for a single query

SET LOCAL ivfflat.probes = 1;

Indexing Progress

Check indexing progress with Postgres 12+

SELECT phase, tuples_done, tuples_total FROM pg_stat_progress_create_index;

The phases are:

  1. initializing
  2. sampling table
  3. performing k-means
  4. sorting tuples
  5. loading tuples

Note: tuples_done and tuples_total are only populated during the loading tuples phase

Partial Indexes

Consider partial indexes for queries with a WHERE clause

SELECT * FROM items WHERE category_id = 123 ORDER BY embedding <-> '[3,1,2]' LIMIT 5;

can be indexed with:

CREATE INDEX ON items USING ivfflat (embedding vector_l2_ops) WHERE (category_id = 123);

To index many different values of category_id, consider partitioning on category_id.

CREATE TABLE items (embedding vector(3), category_id int) PARTITION BY LIST(category_id);


To speed up queries without an index, increase max_parallel_workers_per_gather.

SET max_parallel_workers_per_gather = 4;

To speed up queries with an index, increase the number of inverted lists (at the expense of recall).

CREATE INDEX ON items USING ivfflat (embedding vector_l2_ops) WITH (lists = 1000);


Vector Type

Each vector takes 4 * dimensions + 8 bytes of storage. Each element is a float, and all elements must be finite (no NaN, Infinity or -Infinity). Vectors can have up to 1024 dimensions.

Vector Operators

Operator Description
+ element-wise addition
- element-wise subtraction
<-> Euclidean distance
<#> negative inner product
<=> cosine distance

Vector Functions

Function Description
cosine_distance(vector, vector) cosine distance
inner_product(vector, vector) inner product
l2_distance(vector, vector) Euclidean distance
vector_dims(vector) number of dimensions
vector_norm(vector) Euclidean norm


Libraries that use pgvector:

Frequently Asked Questions

How many vectors can be stored in a single table?

A non-partitioned table has a limit of 32 TB by default in Postgres. A partitioned table can have thousands of partitions of that size.

Is replication supported?

Yes, pgvector uses the write-ahead log (WAL), which allows for replication and point-in-time recovery.

What if my data has more than 1024 dimensions?

Two things you can try are:

  1. use dimensionality reduction
  2. compile Postgres with a larger block size (./configure --with-blocksize=32) and edit the limit in src/vector.h

Additional Installation Methods


Get the Docker image with:

docker pull ankane/pgvector

This adds pgvector to the Postgres image.

You can also build the image manually

git clone --branch v0.2.7
cd pgvector
docker build -t pgvector .


With Homebrew Postgres, you can use:

brew install pgvector/brew/pgvector


Install from the PostgreSQL Extension Network with:

pgxn install vector

Hosted Postgres

Some Postgres providers only support specific extensions. To request a new extension:

  • Amazon RDS - follow the instructions on this page
  • Google Cloud SQL - follow the instructions on this page
  • DigitalOcean Managed Databases - vote or comment on this page
  • Azure Database for PostgreSQL - follow the instructions on this page


Install the latest version and run:



Thanks to:


View the changelog


Everyone is encouraged to help improve this project. Here are a few ways you can help:

To get started with development:

git clone
cd pgvector
make install

To run all tests:

make installcheck        # regression tests
make prove_installcheck  # TAP tests

To run single tests:

make installcheck REGRESS=functions                    # regression test
make prove_installcheck PROVE_TESTS=test/t/  # TAP test

To enable benchmarking:

make clean && PG_CFLAGS=-DIVFFLAT_BENCH make && make install

Resources for contributors