10.1.9.1 Result Strings

MySQL has many operators and functions that return a string. This section answers the question: What is the character set and collation of such a string?

For simple functions that take string input and return a string result as output, the output's character set and collation are the same as those of the principal input value. For example, UPPER(X) returns a string whose character string and collation are the same as that of X. The same applies for INSTR(), LCASE(), LOWER(), LTRIM(), MID(), REPEAT(), REPLACE(), REVERSE(), RIGHT(), RPAD(), RTRIM(), SOUNDEX(), SUBSTRING(), TRIM(), UCASE(), and UPPER().

Note: The REPLACE() function, unlike all other functions, always ignores the collation of the string input and performs a case-sensitive comparison.

If a string input or function result is a binary string, the string has no character set or collation. This can be checked by using the CHARSET() and COLLATION() functions, both of which return binary to indicate that their argument is a binary string:

mysql> SELECT CHARSET(BINARY 'a'), COLLATION(BINARY 'a');
+---------------------+-----------------------+
| CHARSET(BINARY 'a') | COLLATION(BINARY 'a') |
+---------------------+-----------------------+
| binary              | binary                |
+---------------------+-----------------------+

For operations that combine multiple string inputs and return a single string output, the aggregation rules of standard SQL apply for determining the collation of the result:

For example, with CASE ... WHEN a THEN b WHEN b THEN c COLLATE X END, the resulting collation is X. The same applies for UNION, ||, CONCAT(), ELT(), GREATEST(), IF(), and LEAST().

For operations that convert to character data, the character set and collation of the strings that result from the operations are defined by the character_set_connection and collation_connection system variables. This applies only to CAST(), CONV(), FORMAT(), HEX(), and SPACE().

If you are uncertain about the character set or collation of the result returned by a string function, you can use the CHARSET() or COLLATION() function to find out:

mysql> SELECT USER(), CHARSET(USER()), COLLATION(USER());
+----------------+-----------------+-------------------+
| USER()         | CHARSET(USER()) | COLLATION(USER()) |
+----------------+-----------------+-------------------+
| test@localhost | utf8            | utf8_general_ci   |
+----------------+-----------------+-------------------+