Multidimensional Data

PostgreSQL Extensions: Unlocking Multidimensional Points With Cube

Cube is a PostgreSQL extension that provides a data type for representing multidimensional cubes, or more specifically, it allows you to store and operate on multidimensional points. This can be useful in various scenarios, such as storing geographical coordinates (latitude, longitude, altitude), analyzing data in business intelligence (BI) applications, or handling complex scientific data.

In addition to the basic data type, the cube extension also provides a range of functions and operators for working with cube data types, including distance calculations, intersection checks, and more.

The PostgreSQL CUBE is also a subclause of the GROUP BY clause in SQL. With the cube extension, you can generate multiple grouping sets in a single query, which can simplify the writing of complex SQL queries and improve efficiency.

Here are some key uses of the cube extension:

  1. Multidimensional data: it's ideal for storing and querying multidimensional data. For instance, in geographic information systems (GIS), where data points might include latitude, longitude, and altitude.

  2. Grouping sets: the CUBE keyword allows you to generate multiple grouping sets at once. This can simplify complex SQL queries and improve efficiency.

  3. Business intelligence: cube is useful in OLAP (Online Analytical Processing), a technology that allows users to analyze information from multiple database systems at the same time. It's particularly useful in BI applications where you need to perform complex analytics and data warehousing tasks.

Installing the PostgreSQL Cube Extension

To install the PostgreSQL cube extension, follow the steps below:

1. Open your PostgreSQL command line interface.

2. Connect to the database where you want to install the extension.

3. Run the following command: CREATE EXTENSION cube;

This command will install the cube extension in your current database.

Using the PostgreSQL Cube Extension

Once installed, you can use the cube extension to create and manipulate multidimensional cubes. Here's a basic example of how to create a cube:

SELECT cube(array[1,2,3]);

This command creates a cube with dimensions 1, 2, and 3. You can also perform operations on cubes, such as finding the distance between two cubes:

SELECT cube_distance(cube(array[1,2,3]), cube(array[4,5,6]));

Time-Series Use Cases for the PostgreSQL Cube Extension

The PostgreSQL cube extension is particularly useful for time-series data analysis. For instance, it can be used to analyze trends over time, compare data from different periods, or identify patterns and anomalies. 

One common use case is in financial data analysis, where the cube extension can be used to analyze stock prices over time. Another use case is in IoT data analysis, where the cube extension can be used to analyze sensor data over time.

Using PostgreSQL Cube Extension with Timescale and Time-Series Data

If you're working with time-series data in PostgreSQL, you might be using Timescale, an open-source time-series database fully compatible with PostgreSQL. The cube extension can be used in conjunction with Timescale to enhance your time-series data analysis.

To use the cube extension with Timescale, you first need to install both Timescale and the cube extension in your PostgreSQL database. Once installed, you can use the cube functions and operators in your Timescale queries to analyze your time-series data.

  1. Install and configure Timescale: Install the TimescaleDB extension in your PostgreSQL database. You can follow the installation guide provided by TimescaleDB based on your PostgreSQL version or simply sign up for a 30-day free trial—no credit card required. On Timescale, you can find available extensions by going to Operations > Extensions from your service overview, which will also give you installation instructions.

  2. Create a table with a time and value column: 

CREATE TABLE your_table (
  value integer

Insert data into the table: Use regular SQL INSERT statements to insert data into the table

INSERT INTO your_table (time, value)
VALUES ('2023-06-01 00:00:00', '1'),
       ('2023-06-02 00:00:00', '4'),
       ('2023-06-03 00:00:00', '7');

  1. Querying and analyzing data

Now, you could use the cube extension to create a multidimensional cube of your time-series data and then use Timescale's time_bucket function to analyze this data over specific time intervals.

SELECT time_bucket('1 day', time) AS one_day, cube(array_agg(value))
FROM your_table
GROUP BY one_day;

This query creates a cube of your time-series data for each day, allowing you to analyze your data in a multidimensional context.


In conclusion, the PostgreSQL cube extension is a helpful tool for developers working with PostgreSQL and time-series data. Whether you're analyzing financial data, sensor data, or any other type of time-series data, the cube extension can provide valuable insights and enhance your data analysis capabilities.