Skip to content

Regular Expressions Overview

Regular expressions provide a powerful method for matching text patterns. You can use simple wildcards (such as %, _) in LIKE statements, but regular expressions offer more flexibility and matching options.


Regular expressions can perform complex string matching and manipulation. Here are some common use cases:

  • Data Validation: Regular expressions can validate whether data complies with a specific format, such as checking whether a field contains a valid email address, phone number, or social security number. For example, you can use a regular expression to find all email addresses that do not conform to the standard format:

    SELECT email
    FROM users
    WHERE email NOT REGEXP '^[A-Za-z0-9._%+-]+@[A-Za-z0-9.-]+\\.[A-Za-z]{2,}$';
  • Data Filtering: Regular expressions can be used to search for data that contains or does not contain specific patterns. For example, if you want to find all phone numbers that start with a specific prefix, you can use a regular expression to match these numbers:

    SELECT phone_number
    FROM users
    WHERE phone_number REGEXP '^180';
  • Data Cleaning: Regular expressions are also instrumental in data cleaning. For example, you may need to clear special characters and spaces or extract numbers from strings; regular expressions can quickly implement these functions:

    SELECT REGEXP_REPLACE(name, '[^a-zA-Z]', '')
    FROM users;

    This SQL will return the result of all non-alphabetical characters in the name field being replaced.

  • Text Analysis: If you are conducting text analysis, regular expressions can help you find specific words or phrases in the text and can even be used for certain forms of natural language processing.

Special Characters

Regular expressions use POSIX (Portable Operating System Interface) extended regular expressions. Here are some special characters to note:

Character Explanation
. Matches any single character (except a newline)
* Indicates the preceding element can be repeated any number of times (including zero times)
+ Indicates the preceding element can be repeated one or more times.
? Indicates the primary element can be repeated zero or once.
{n} Indicates the primary element can be repeated n times.
{n,} Indicates the primary element can be repeated n times or more.
{n,m} Indicates the primary element can be repeated from n to m times.
^ Indicates matching the beginning of the string.
$ Indicates matching the end of the string.
[abc] Indicates matching a, b, or c.
[^abc] Indicates matching any character that is not a, b, or c.
(abc|def) Indicates matching abc or def.
\d Indicates matching numbers
\s Indicates matching whitespace characters
\w Indicates matching word characters
\D, \S and \W Indicate matching opposite character sets


In regular expressions, these special characters need to be escaped using \; for example, \\. indicates matching an actual . character, not any character.

MatrixOne's regular expressions are case-sensitive by default. If you want to perform case-insensitive matching, you can use syntax like REGEXP_LIKE(column, pattern, 'i'). Where i indicates case insensitivity.


List of Regular Expression Functions

Name Definition
REGEXP_INSTR() Starting index of substring matching regular expression
REGEXP_LIKE() Whether string matches regular expression
REGEXP_REPLACE() Replace substring matching regular expression
REGEXP_SUBSTR() Return substring matching regular expression