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When defining a Point in PostGIS, when do you decide to use which of the following?

  • ST_SetSRID(ST_MakePoint(lon,lat),4326)
  • ST_SetSRID(ST_Point(long,lat),4326)
  • ST_SetSRID(ST_GeomFromText('POINT(lon lat)',4326)
  • ST_GeomFromEWKT('SRID=4326;POINT(lon lat)')

If its essentially a difference in performance, which will be the fastest?

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2 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

My guess is that ST_MakePoint is fastest, but this is easy enough to benchmark with 100k random points.

create temp table points(geom geometry(Point, 4326));

-- repeat the remainder for each <POINT CONSTRUCTOR METHOD>
truncate points;

insert into points(geom)
from generate_series(1,100000);

And here are some results with PostGIS 2.1 (trunk) on PostgreSQL 9.1, x64 Debian. I did them a few times to get an approximate average. Here are the <POINT CONSTRUCTOR METHOD> in order from fastest to slowest:

  1. ST_SetSRID(ST_MakePoint(random(), random()), 4326)
    • avg 280 ms
    • by far fastest, and preserves double-point precision (lossless)
    • easiest way to make a parameterized query with numeric coordinate data
  2. ST_GeomFromText('POINT(' || random()::text || ' ' || random()::text || ')', 4326)
    • avg 850 ms
    • slow, as the number is cast to text, then the string is pieced together, then PostGIS needs to parse it to find the numbers
    • lossy, due to number -> text -> number conversions
  3. ST_GeomFromEWKT('SRID=4326;POINT(' || random()::text || ' ' || random()::text || ')')
    • avg 920 ms
    • slowest, not sure why it's slower than ST_GeomFromText

Lastly, a wee footnote on the difference between lossless/lossy conversions with the above methods. Only ST_MakePoint preserves the binary floating point precision data, and the text conversions truncate a very small part of the data off. Although the two points may have binary differences (seen in the WKB), they should always be spatially equal.

select x, y, geom_text = geom_binary as spatially_equal,
             geom_text::text = geom_binary::text as binary_equal
from (
  select x, y, ST_GeomFromText('POINT(' || x::text || ' ' || y::text || ')') as geom_text,
               ST_MakePoint(x, y) as geom_binary
      from (select random()::float8 as x, random()::float8 as y) as f) as f;
         x         |         y         | spatially_equal | binary_equal 
 0.886159958783537 | 0.370768354274333 | t               | f
(1 row)
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Thanks for a great explanation about how to calculate this. I'm curious about the SQL syntax, <POINT CONSTRUCTOR METHOD>. Is that just pseudocode to refer to the four different approaches, or are you making some kind of function? –  djq Apr 21 '13 at 19:20
@djq yup, it's just a placeholder for the actual SQL code in 1, 2 and 3. –  Mike T Apr 21 '13 at 20:01
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ST_MakePoint and ST_Point are the same - they both call LWGEOM_makepoint (you can see this in the postgis/postgis.sql.in file in the source code). I'd use ST_MakePoint. The text conversion routines produce the same result, but are slower because of the amount of parsing that is required.

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