# ISNUMERIC() bug?

• Hello,  I just encountered a strange result using the ISNUMERIC function...specifically something like SELECT ISNUMERIC('9990D7') or SELECT ISNUMERIC('9D7'). These statements return a 1, meaning it evaluated the value as a numeric value. I noticed this is true for values that start with one or more digits, followed by either a 'D' or an 'E' and followed by one or more digits.

Can anyone reproduce this? Or has anyone else encountered this?

Thanks!

Dan

• I seem to remember that there was a thread about it once before but can't find it now.

The E is something to do with powers of 10. 1E1 = 10, 1E2 = 100 etc hence the ISNUMERIC thing.

There was a logical reason for the D as well but I can't remember what it was.

Ultimately it is not a bug just the single most annoying "feature" I have ever come across.

• Thanks for the reply and the explanation. The E makes sense, though it would have been nice to have read that in the docs.  It's actually the D that's killing me.  Oh well, I guess I can scan through each position and check for valid numeric that way. Thanks again for the fast response!

Dan

• Have you considered using LIKE %[^0-9]% as a comparison?

In otherwords if your string contains characters in that are not digits?

• From Frank Kalis' post on July 20:

"D and E are used in Fortran to represent FLOATs in scientific notation. SQL Server internally uses C routines for ISNUMERIC that follow these formats. So ISNUMERIC returns 1 for 0d830 and 0e830, because they are evaluated to be convertible to FLOAT.

The reason why

select convert(float,'0D830')

returns 0 is simple. 0d830 is a shortcut to 0*10^830 which obviously is 0 for every INT you place after the d. "

• ISNUMERIC is not a good way to find out, whether a string contains only numbers - it is rather a test, whether conversion to number will cause error.

SELECT ISNUMERIC('+002') --> 1

SELECT ISNUMERIC('-3E265') --> 1

SELECT ISNUMERIC('6D78') --> 1

SELECT ISNUMERIC('6D7897') --> 0

BTW, not only ISNUMERIC, but also ISNULL can sometimes cause unexpected results thanks to conversion of result datatype. Try this (I have copied it about 1 year ago from one post here, I think it was by Frank Kalis, too.)

SELECT

7 / ISNULL(CAST(NULL AS int), 2.00),

7 / COALESCE(CAST(NULL AS int), 2.00),

7 / CASE WHEN CAST(NULL AS int) IS NULL THEN 2.00 END

CREATE TABLE #t(c1 CHAR(2))

INSERT INTO #t VALUES (NULL)

--ISNULL provádí konverzi a rídí se puvodní délkou sloupce

SELECT ISNULL(c1,'Frank'), COALESCE(c1,'Frank')

FROM  #t

SELECT  ISNULL(c1,'Frank'), COALESCE(c1,'Frank'), CASE WHEN c1 IS NULL THEN 'Frank' ELSE c1 END

FROM  #t

DROP TABLE #t

• Good point!  Thanks again for the reply.  It is greatly appreciated!

• Okay, that explains a lot!  Thanks!

• same starcast - different movie - this the thread you were looking for...?!?!

**ASCII stupid question, get a stupid ANSI !!!**

• Please explain this one :

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12/16/2005 2:49:27 PM:  Ascii code : 254   isnumeric : 0

12/16/2005 2:49:27 PM:  Ascii code : 255   isnumeric : 0

the script to make this output :

declare @i integer

set @i = 0

while @i < 256

begin

print N'Ascii code : ' + CAST ( @i as varchar) + '   isnumeric : ' + cast (isnumeric(char(@i)) as varchar)

set @i = @i + 1

end

• Sure, one complete explanation coming right up...  but I'm a bit surprised you didn't figure it out yourself... remember, you asked the question...

First, I modified your code so we could see the actual character being represented instead of just the ASCII numeric representation....

declare @i integer

set @i = 0

while @i < 256

begin

print N'Ascii code : ' + CAST ( @i as varchar) +' '+ CHAR(@I)

+ '   isnumeric : ' + cast (isnumeric(char(@i)) as varchar)

set @i = @i + 1

end

Here's the result set which has been abbreviated as a readability-courtesy to show only those single characters that are considered to be numeric...

Ascii code : 9     isnumeric : 1

Ascii code : 10

isnumeric : 1

Ascii code : 11    isnumeric : 1

Ascii code : 12    isnumeric : 1

Ascii code : 13

isnumeric : 1

Ascii code : 36 \$   isnumeric : 1

Ascii code : 43 +   isnumeric : 1

Ascii code : 44 ,   isnumeric : 1

Ascii code : 45 -   isnumeric : 1

Ascii code : 46 .   isnumeric : 1

Ascii code : 48 0   isnumeric : 1

Ascii code : 49 1   isnumeric : 1

Ascii code : 50 2   isnumeric : 1

Ascii code : 51 3   isnumeric : 1

Ascii code : 52 4   isnumeric : 1

Ascii code : 53 5   isnumeric : 1

Ascii code : 54 6   isnumeric : 1

Ascii code : 55 7   isnumeric : 1

Ascii code : 56 8   isnumeric : 1

Ascii code : 57 9   isnumeric : 1

Ascii code : 128 €   isnumeric : 1

Ascii code : 160     isnumeric : 1

Ascii code : 163 £   isnumeric : 1

Ascii code : 164 ¤   isnumeric : 1

Ascii code : 165 ¥   isnumeric : 1

Ascii 9 is a TAB character and is included because a column of numbers is frequently delimited by a TAB.

Ascii 10 is a Line Feed character and is included because the last column of numbers is frequently terminated by a Line Feed character.

Ascii 11 is a Vertical Tab character and is included because the last column of numbers is frequently terminated by a Vertical Tab character.

Ascii 12 is a Form Feed character and is included because the last column numbers of the last row is sometimes terminated by a Form Feed character.

Ascii 13 is a Carriage Return character and is included because the last column of numbers is frequently terminated by a Carriage Return character.

Ascii 36 (Dollar sign), 128 (Euro sign), 163 (British Pound sign), and 164 (Yen sign) are included because they are frequently used as enumerators to identify the type of number or, in this case, the currency type the number is meant to represent.

Ascii 43 (Plus sign), 44 (Comma), 45 (Minus sign), and 46 (Decimal place) are included because they are frequently included in numeric columns to mark where on the number line the number appears and for simple formatting.

Ascii 160 is a special "hard space" and is included because it is frequently used to left pad numeric columns so the column of numbers appears to be right justified.  Ascii 32 is a "soft space" and is not included because a single space does not usually represent a column of numbers.  Ascii 32 is, however, a valid numeric character when used to create right justified numbers as is Ascii 160 but a single Ascii 32 character is NOT numeric.  In fact, a string of Ascii 32 spaces is not considered to be numeric but a string of spaces with even a single digit in it is considered to be numeric.

Ascii 164 is a special character and is included because it is frequently used by accountants and some software to indicate a total or subtotal of some type.  It is also used by some to indicate they don't know what the enumerator is.

Ascii 48-59 are included because they represent the digits 0 through 9.

Do notice that the "e" , "d" and (everybody forgot about this) "x" are not included as numeric in the results because a single "e", "d", or "x"  is NOT considered to be numeric.  Two of these letters are for two different forms of scientific notation and the "x" indicates a hexidecimal output in SQL.  Further, when properly formatted, the letters "a-f" are also considered to be numeric and are also not included in the list of single characters.  All of these "unlisted" characters are highly positional in nature.  That is, they must be in the correct position in association with numeric digits and other numeric symbology to be considered to be numeric.  Depending on where they appear in a column of numbers determines if and when they will be treated as numeric or not.

ISNUMERIC is NOT and should never be treated as ISALLDIGITS.  It was never intended to mean that.  Use the NOT LIKE '%[^0-9]%' regular expression to determine if something ISALLDIGITS... If you try to use ISNUMERIC for that, then you're using it the wrong way.

Any more questions on ISNUMERIC?

--Jeff Moden

RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for Row-By-Agonizing-Row.
First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
________Stop thinking about what you want to do to a ROW... think, instead, of what you want to do to a COLUMN.
"Change is inevitable... change for the better is not".

How to post code problems
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• Thank you for the work ! It's really helpfull .

Why can not select cast ( '123'+char(160) as int) work ?

Seems to be a difference of coding between this 2 functions. ISNUMERIC working differenty as cast is not a good idea.

Again thank you for the detailed explanation.

• You might want to check out my reply here: http://www.sqlservercentral.com/forums/shwmessage.aspx?forumid=8&messageid=202581 CHAR(160) is a non-breakable space and as such considered a "noise" character in SQL Server. At least CAST treats it this way. ISNUMERIC however treats this character as thousands separator.

ISNUMERIC is probably one of the most useless functions in SQL Server, IMHO. ....at least, when you don't need to rely on this weired behaviour.

Jeff, can you give an example where 'a-f' are considered by ISNUMERIC to be convertable to a number?

--
Frank Kalis
Microsoft SQL Server MVP
Webmaster: http://www.insidesql.org/blogs
My blog: http://www.insidesql.org/blogs/frankkalis/[/url]

• Interesting thing though... when you CAST/CONVERT to INT, CHAR(160) will raise an error. But if you try CAST/CONVERT to FLOAT, statement will succeed and the nbsp character is ignored, if it is at the beginning of string (not if it is on the right end of string).

select cast(char(160)+'1234' as float)

select convert(float, char(160)+'1234')

Probably, as Jeff said, it is ignored if used to pad the numbers from left. Well... At the same time, select ISNUMERIC(char(160) + '1234') returns 0. As mentioned already several times, ISNUMERIC is rather unpredictable and should be avoided or used with great care : some strings that return ISNUMERIC = 0 can be successfully converted to float.

• modify the script to examine the "numeric" characters

declare

@i integer

set

@i = 0

while

@i < 256

begin

if isnumeric(char(@i)) = 1

print N'Ascii code : ' + CAST ( @i as varchar) + ' isnumeric : ' + cast (isnumeric(char(@i)) as varchar) + ' Char : ' + char(@i)

set @i = @i + 1

end

result

Ascii code : 9 isnumeric : 1 Char :
Ascii code : 10 isnumeric : 1 Char :
Ascii code : 11 isnumeric : 1 Char :
Ascii code : 12 isnumeric : 1 Char :
Ascii code : 13 isnumeric : 1 Char :
Ascii code : 36 isnumeric : 1 Char : \$
Ascii code : 43 isnumeric : 1 Char : +
Ascii code : 44 isnumeric : 1 Char : ,
Ascii code : 45 isnumeric : 1 Char : -
Ascii code : 46 isnumeric : 1 Char : .
Ascii code : 48 isnumeric : 1 Char : 0
Ascii code : 49 isnumeric : 1 Char : 1
Ascii code : 50 isnumeric : 1 Char : 2
Ascii code : 51 isnumeric : 1 Char : 3
Ascii code : 52 isnumeric : 1 Char : 4
Ascii code : 53 isnumeric : 1 Char : 5
Ascii code : 54 isnumeric : 1 Char : 6
Ascii code : 55 isnumeric : 1 Char : 7
Ascii code : 56 isnumeric : 1 Char : 8
Ascii code : 57 isnumeric : 1 Char : 9
Ascii code : 92 isnumeric : 1 Char : \
Ascii code : 128 isnumeric : 1 Char : €
Ascii code : 160 isnumeric : 1 Char :
Ascii code : 162 isnumeric : 1 Char : ¢
Ascii code : 163 isnumeric : 1 Char : £
Ascii code : 164 isnumeric : 1 Char : ¤
Ascii code : 165 isnumeric : 1 Char : ¥

For the most part the explanation is "valid" punctuation in a numeric "sting". Currency, signs and separators. Can't explain Horizontal Tab(9), Newline(10), Vertical Tab(11), Form Feed (12) and carriage Return (13) other than their presence at the beginning of a numeric "string" does allow the sting to evaluate as numeric.

select

isnumeric(char(13)+'123' )Characters above 127 will be different based on the codepage currently loaded.

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