LIKE and RLIKE Operatorsedit

LIKE and RLIKE operators are commonly used to filter data based on string patterns. They usually act on a field placed on the left-hand side of the operator, but can also act on a constant (literal) expression. The right-hand side of the operator represents the pattern. Both can be used in the WHERE clause of the SELECT statement, but LIKE can also be used in other places, such as defining an index pattern or across various SHOW commands. This section covers only the SELECT ... WHERE ... usage.

Note

One significant difference between LIKE/RLIKE and the full-text search predicates is that the former act on exact fields while the latter also work on analyzed fields. If the field used with LIKE/RLIKE doesn’t have an exact not-normalized sub-field (of keyword type) Elasticsearch SQL will not be able to run the query. If the field is either exact or has an exact sub-field, it will use it as is, or it will automatically use the exact sub-field even if it wasn’t explicitly specified in the statement.

LIKEedit

Synopsis: 

expression        
LIKE constant_exp 

typically a field, or a constant expression

pattern

Description: The SQL LIKE operator is used to compare a value to similar values using wildcard operators. There are two wildcards used in conjunction with the LIKE operator:

  • The percent sign (%)
  • The underscore (_)

The percent sign represents zero, one or multiple characters. The underscore represents a single number or character. These symbols can be used in combinations.

SELECT author, name FROM library WHERE name LIKE 'Dune%';

    author     |     name
---------------+---------------
Frank Herbert  |Dune
Frank Herbert  |Dune Messiah

There is, also, the possibility of using an escape character if one needs to match the wildcard characters themselves. This can be done by using the ESCAPE [escape_character] statement after the LIKE ... operator:

SELECT name, author FROM library WHERE name LIKE 'Dune/%' ESCAPE '/';

In the example above / is defined as an escape character which needs to be placed before the % or _ characters if one needs to match those characters in the pattern specifically. By default, there is no escape character defined.

Important

Even though LIKE is a valid option when searching or filtering in Elasticsearch SQL, full-text search predicates MATCH and QUERY are faster and much more powerful and are the preferred alternative.

RLIKEedit

Synopsis: 

expression         
RLIKE constant_exp 

typically a field, or a constant expression

pattern

Description: This operator is similar to LIKE, but the user is not limited to search for a string based on a fixed pattern with the percent sign (%) and underscore (_); the pattern in this case is a regular expression which allows the construction of more flexible patterns.

For more details about the regular expressions syntax, Java’s Pattern class javadoc is a good starting point.

SELECT author, name FROM library WHERE name RLIKE 'Child.* Dune';

    author     |      name
---------------+----------------
Frank Herbert  |Children of Dune
Important

Even though RLIKE is a valid option when searching or filtering in Elasticsearch SQL, full-text search predicates MATCH and QUERY are faster and much more powerful and are the preferred alternative.

Prefer full-text search predicatesedit

When using LIKE/RLIKE, do consider using full-text search predicates which are faster, much more powerful and offer the option of sorting by relevancy (results can be returned based on how well they matched).

For example:

LIKE/RLIKE

QUERY/MATCH

foo LIKE 'bar'

MATCH(foo, 'bar')

foo LIKE 'bar' AND tar LIKE 'goo'

MATCH('foo^2, tar^5', 'bar goo', 'operator=and')

foo LIKE 'barr'

QUERY('foo: bar~')

foo LIKE 'bar' AND tar LIKE 'goo'

QUERY('foo: bar AND tar: goo')

foo RLIKE 'ba.*'

MATCH(foo, 'ba', 'fuzziness=AUTO:1,5')

foo RLIKE 'b.{1}r'

MATCH(foo, 'br', 'fuzziness=1')