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Grouping Reference

Read the Vespa grouping guide first, for examples and an introduction to grouping - this is the Vespa grouping reference.

Also note that using a multivalued attribute (such as an array of doubles) in a grouping expression affects performance. Such operations can hit a memory bandwidth bottleneck, particularly if the set of hits to be processed is large, as more data is evaluated.


Group query results using a custom expression (using the group clause):

  • A numerical constant
  • A document attribute
  • A function over another expression (xorbit, md5, cat, xor, and, or, add, sub, mul, div, mod) or any other expression
  • The datatype of an expression is resolved using best-effort, similarly to how common programming languages does to resolve arithmetics of different data typed operands
  • The results of any expression are either scalar or single dimension arrays
    • add(<array>) adds all elements together to produce a scalar
    • add(<arrayA>, <arrayB>) adds each element together producing a new array whose size is max(|<arrayA>|, |<arrayB>|)

Groups can contain subgroups (by using each and group operations), and may be nested to any level.

Multiple sub-groupings or outputs can be created under the same group level, using multiple parallel each or all clauses, and each one may be labelled using as(mylabel).

When grouping results, groups that contain outputs, group lists and hit lists are generated. Group lists contain subgroups, and hit lists contain hits that are part of the owning group.

The identity of a group is held by its id. Scalar identities such as long, double and string, are directly available from the id, whereas range identities used for bucket aggregation are separated into the sub-nodes from and to. Refer to the result format reference.

Multivalue attributes

A multivalue attribute is a weighted set, array or map. Most grouping functions will just handle the elements of multivalued attributes separately, as if they were all individual values in separate documents. If you are grouping over array of struct or maps, scoping will be used to preserve structure. Each entry in the array/map will be treated as a separate sub-document. The following syntax can be used when grouping on map attribute fields.

Group on map keys:

all( group(mymap.key) each(output(count())) )

Group on map keys then on map values:

all( group(mymap.key) each( group(mymap.value) each(output(count())) ))

Group on values for key my_key:

all( group(my_map{"my_key"}) each(output(count())) )

Group on struct field my_field referenced in map element my_key:

all( group(my_map{"my_key"}.my_field) each(output(count())) )

The key can either be specified directly (above) or indirectly via a key source attribute. The key is retrieved from the key source attribute for each document. Note that the key source attribute must be single value and have the same data type as the key type of the map:

all( group(my_map{attribute(my_key_source)}) each(output(count())) )

Group on array of integers field:

all( group(my_array) each(output(count())) )

Group on struct field my_field in the my_array array of structs:

all( group(my_array.my_field) each(output(count())) )

Tensors can not be used in grouping.

Order / max

Each level of grouping may specify how to order its groups (using order):

  • Ordering can be done using any of the available aggregates
  • Multi-level grouping allows strict ordering where primary aggregates may be equal
  • Ordering is either ascending or descending, specified per level of ordering
  • Groups are sorted using locale aware sorting

Limit the number of groups returned for each level using max, returning only first n groups as specified by order:

  • order changes ordering of groups after a merge operation for the following aggregators: count, avg and sum
  • order will not change ordering of groups after a merge operation when max or min is used
  • Default order, -max(relevance()), does not require use of precision


Pagination of grouping results are managed by continuations. These are opaque objects that can be combined and re-submitted using the continuations annotation on the grouping step of the query to move to the previous or next page in a result list.

All root groups contain a single this continuation per select. That continuation represents the current view, and if submitted as the sole continuation, it will reproduce the exact same result as the one that contained it.

There are zero or one prev/next continuation per group- and hit list. Submit any number of these to retrieve the next/previous pages of the corresponding lists

Any number of continuations can be combined in a query, but the first must always be the this continuation. E.g. one may simultaneously move both to the next page of one list, and the previous page of another.

If working programmatically with grouping, find the Continuation objects within RootGroup, GroupList and HitList result objects. These can then be added back into the continuation list of the GroupingRequest to paginate.

Refer to the grouping guide for an example.


Lists created using the each keyword can be assigned a label using the construct each(...) as(mylabel). The outputs created by that each clause will be identified by this label.


Grouping expressions can be tagged with an alias. An alias allows the expression to be reused without having to repeat the expression verbatim.

all(group(a) alias(myalias, count()) each(output($myalias)))
is equivalent to
all(group(a) each(output(count())))
all(group(a) order($myalias=count()) each(output($myalias)))
is equivalent to
all(group(a) order(count()) each(output(count())))


The is the number of intermediate groups returned from each content node during expression evaluation to give the container node more data to consider when selecting the groups that are to be evaluated further: each(...) precision(1000) A higher number costs more bandwidth, but leads to higher accuracy in some cases.

Query parameters

The following query parameters are relevant for grouping. See the Query API Reference for description.

Grouping Session Cache

The session cache stores intermediate grouping results in the content nodes when using multi-level grouping expressions, in order to speed up grouping at a potential loss of accuracy. This causes the query and grouping expression to be run only once.

When having multi-level grouping expressions, the search query is normally re-run for each level. The drawback of this is, with an expensive ranking function, the query will take more time than strictly necessary.


Each level of grouping specifies a set of aggregates to collect for all documents that belong to that group (using the output operation):

  • The documents in a group, retrieved using a specified summary class
  • The count of documents in a group
  • The sum, average, min, max, xor or standard deviation of an expression

When all arguments are numeric, the result type is resolved by looking at the argument types. If all arguments are longs, the result is a long. If at least one argument is a double, the result is a double.

When using order, aggregators can also be used in expressions in order to get increased control over group sorting. This does not work with expressions that takes attributes as an argument, unless the expression is enclosed within an aggregator.

Using sum, max on a multivalued attribute: Doing an operation such as output(sum(myarray)) will run the sum over each element value in each document. The result is the sum of sums of values. Similarly max(myarray) will yield the maximal element over all elements in all documents, and so on.

Multivalue fields such as maps, arrays can be used for grouping. However, using aggregation functions such as sum() on such fields can give misleading results. Assume a map from strings to integers (map<string, int>), where the strings are some sort of key to use for grouping. The following expression will provide the sum of the values for all keys:

all( group(mymap.key) each(output(sum(mymap.value))) )

and not the sum of the values within each key, as one would expect. It is still, however, possible to run the following expression to get the sum of values within a specific key:

all( group("my_group") each(output(sum(mymap{"foo"}))) )

Refer to the system test for grouping on struct and map types for more examples.

Group list aggregators

count Counts the number of unique groups (as produced by group). Note that count operates independently of max and that this count is an estimate using HyperLogLog++ which is an algorithm for the count-distinct problemNoneLong

Group aggregators

countIncrements a long counter everytime it is invokedNoneLong
sumSums the argument over all selected documentsNumericNumeric
avgComputes the average over all selected documentsNumericNumeric
minKeeps the minimum value of selected documentsNumericNumeric
maxKeeps the maximum value of selected documentsNumericNumeric
xorXOR the values (their least significant 64 bits) of all selected documentsAnyLong
stddevComputes the population standard deviation over all selected documentsNumericDouble

Hit aggregators

summaryProduces a summary of the requested summary className of summary classSummary


Arithmetic expressions

addAdd the arguments togetherNumeric+Numeric
+Add left and right argumentNumeric, NumericNumeric
mulMultiply the arguments togetherNumeric+Numeric
*Multiply left and right argumentNumeric, NumericNumeric
subSubtract second argument from first, third from result, etcNumeric+Numeric
-Subtract right argument from leftNumeric, NumericNumeric
divDivide first argument by second, result by third, etcNumeric+Numeric
/Divide left argument by rightNumeric, NumericNumeric
modModulo first argument by second, result by third, etcNumeric+Numeric
%Modulo left argument by rightNumeric, NumericNumeric
negNegate argumentNumericNumeric
-Negate right argumentNumericNumeric

Bitwise expressions

andAND the arguments in orderLong+Long
orOR the arguments in orderLong+Long
xorXOR the arguments in orderLong+Long

String expressions

strlenCount the number of bytes in argumentStringLong
strcatConcatenate arguments in orderString+String

Type conversion expressions

todoubleConvert argument to doubleAnyDouble
tolongConvert argument to longAnyLong
tostringConvert argument to stringAnyString
torawConvert argument to rawAnyRaw

Raw data expressions

catCat the binary representation of the arguments togetherAny+Raw
md5Does an MD5 over the binary representation of the argument, and keeps the lowest 'width' bitsAny, Numeric(width)Raw
xorbitDoes an XOR of 'width' bits over the binary representation of the argument. Width is rounded up to a multiple of 8Any, Numeric(width)Raw

Accessor expressions

relevanceReturn the computed rank of a documentNoneDouble
<attribute-name>Return the value of the named attributeNoneAny
array.at Array element access. The expression array.at(myarray, idx) returns one value per document by evaluating the idx expression and using it as an index into the array. The expression can then be used to build bigger expressions such as output(sum(array.at(myarray, 0))) which will sum the first element in the array of each document.
  • The idx expression is capped to [0, size(myarray)-1]
  • If > array size, the last element is returned
  • If < 0, the first element is returned
Array, NumericAny

Counts elements in a sorted array that are less than an expression, with linear interpolation if the expression is between element values. The operation interpolatedlookup(myarray, expr) is intended for generic graph/function lookup. The data in myarray should be numerical values sorted in ascending order. The operation will then scan from the start of the array to find the position where the element values become equal to (or greater than) the value of the expr lookup argument, and return the index of that position.

When the lookup argument's value is between two consecutive array element values, the returned position will be a linear interpolation between their respective indexes. The return value is always in the range [0, size(myarray)-1] of the valid index values for an array.

Assume myarray is a sorted array of type array<double> in each document: The expression interpolatedlookup(myarray, 4.2) is now a per-document expression that first evaluates the lookup argument, here a constant expression 4.2, and then looks at the contents of myarray in the document. The scan starts at the first element and proceeds until it hits an element value greater than 4.2 in the array. This means that:

  • If the first element in the array is greater than 4.2, the expression returns 0
  • If the first element in the array is exactly 4.2, the expression still returns 0
  • If the first element in the array is 1.7 while the second element value is exactly 4.2, the expression return 1.0 - the index of the second element
  • If all the elements in the array are less than 4.2, the last valid array index size(myarray)-1 is returned
  • If the 5 first elements in the array have values smaller than the lookup argument, and the lookup argument is halfway between the fifth and sixth element, a value of 4.5 is returned - halfway between the array indexes of the fifth and sixth elements
  • Similarly, if the elements in the array are {0, 1, 2, 4, 8} then passing a lookup argument of "5" would return 3.25 (linear interpolation between indexOf(4)==3 and indexOf(8)==4)
Array, NumericNumeric

Bucket expressions

fixedwidthMaps the value of the first argument into consecutive buckets whose width equals the second argumentAny, NumericNumericBucketList

Maps the value of the first argument into the given buckets.

  • Standard mathematical start and end specifiers may be used to define the width of a bucket. The ( and ) evaluates to [ and > by default.
  • The buckets assume the type of the start/end specifiers (string, long, double or raw). Values are converted to this type before being compared with these specifiers. (e.g. double values are rounded to the nearest integer for buckets of type long).
  • The end specifier can be skipped. The buckets bucket(3)/bucket[3] are the same as bucket[3,4>. This is allowed for string expressions as well; bucket("c") is identical to bucket["c", "c ">.
Any, Bucket+BucketList

Time expressions

The field must be a long, with second resolution (unix timestamp/epoch) - examples.
time.dayofmonthReturns the day of month (1-31) for the given timestampLongLong
time.dayofweekReturns the day of week (0-6) for the given timestamp, Monday being 0LongLong
time.dayofyearReturns the day of year (0-365) for the given timestampLongLong
time.hourofdayReturns the hour of day (0-23) for the given timestampLongLong
time.minuteofhourReturns the minute of hour (0-59) for the given timestampLongLong
time.monthofyearReturns the month of year (1-12) for the given timestampLongLong
time.secondofminuteReturns the second of minute (0-59) for the given timestampLongLong
time.yearReturns the full year (e.g. 2009) of the given timestampLongLong
time.dateReturns the date (e.g. 2009-01-10) of the given timestampLongLong

List expressions

sizeReturn the number of elements in the argument if it is a list. If not return 1AnyLong
sortSort the elements in argument in ascending order if argument is a list If not it is a NOPAnyAny
reverseReverse the elements in the argument if argument is a list If not it is a NOPAnyAny

Other expressions

zcurve.x Returns the X component of the given zcurve encoded 2d point. All fields of type "position" have an accompanying "<fieldName>_zcurve" attribute that can be decoded using this expression, e.g. zcurve.x(foo_zcurve) LongLong
zcurve.yReturns the Y component of the given zcurve encoded 2d pointLongLong

Converts the attribute string using unicode collation algorithm. Groups are sorted using locale aware sorting, with the default and primary strength values, respectively:

all( group(s) order(max(uca(s, "sv"))) each(output(count())) )
all( group(s) order(max(uca(s, "sv", "PRIMARY"))) each(output(count())) )
Any, Locale(String), Strength(String)Raw

Single argument standard mathematical expressions

These are the standard mathematical functions as found in the Java Math class.
math.exp DoubleDouble
math.log DoubleDouble
math.log1p DoubleDouble
math.log10 DoubleDouble
math.sqrt DoubleDouble
math.cbrt DoubleDouble
math.sin DoubleDouble
math.cos DoubleDouble
math.tan DoubleDouble
math.asin DoubleDouble
math.acos DoubleDouble
math.atan DoubleDouble
math.sinh DoubleDouble
math.cosh DoubleDouble
math.tanh DoubleDouble
math.asinh DoubleDouble
math.acosh DoubleDouble
math.atanh DoubleDouble

Dual argument standard mathematical expressions

math.powReturn X^Y.Double, DoubleDouble
math.hypotReturn length of hypotenuse given X and Y sqrt(X^2 + Y^2)Double, DoubleDouble

Select parameter language grammar

request    ::= group [ "where" "(" ( "true" | "$query" ) ")" ]
group      ::= ( "all" | "each") "(" operations ")" [ "as" "(" identifier ")" ]
operations ::= [ "group" "(" expression ")" ]
               ( ( "alias" "(" identifier "," expression ")" ) |
                 ( "max"   "(" ( number | "inf" ) ")" ) |
                 ( "order" "(" expList | aggrList ")" ) |
                 ( "output" "(" aggrList ")" ) |
                 ( "precision" "(" number ")" ) )*
aggrList   ::= aggr ( "," aggr )*
aggr       ::= ( ( "count" "(" ")" ) |
                 ( "sum" "(" exp ")" ) |
                 ( "avg" "(" exp ")" ) |
                 ( "max" "(" exp ")" ) |
                 ( "min" "(" exp ")" ) |
                 ( "xor" "(" exp ")" ) |
                 ( "stddev" "(" exp ")" ) |
                 ( "summary" "(" [ identifier ] ")" ) )
               [ "as" "(" identifier ")" ]
expList    ::= exp ( "," exp )*
exp        ::= ( "+" | "-") ( "$" identifier [ "=" math ] ) | ( math ) | ( aggr )
math       ::= value [ ( "+" | "-" | "*" | "/" | "%" ) value ]
value      ::= ( "(" exp ")" ) |
               ( "add" "(" expList ")" ) |
               ( "and" "(" expList ")" ) |
               ( "cat" "(" expList ")" ) |
               ( "div" "(" expList ")" ) |
               ( "docidnsspecific" "(" ")" ) |
               ( "fixedwidth" "(" exp "," number ")" ) |
               ( "interpolatedlookup" "(" attributeName "," exp ")") |
               ( "math" "." (
                                "exp" | "log" | "log1p" | "log10" | "sqrt" | "cbrt" |
                                "sin" | "cos" | "tan" | "asin" | "acos" | "atan" |
                                "sinh" | "cosh" | "tanh" | "asinh" | "acosh" | "atanh"
                              ) "(" exp ")" |
                              ( "pow" | "hypot" ) "(" exp "," exp ")"
                            )) |
               ( "max" "(" expList ")" ) |
               ( "md5" "(" exp "," number "," number ")" ) |
               ( "min" "(" expList ")" ) |
               ( "mod" "(" expList ")" ) |
               ( "mul" "(" expList ")" ) |
               ( "or" "(" expList ")" ) |
               ( "predefined" "(" exp "," "(" bucket ( "," bucket )* ")" ")" ) |
               ( "reverse" "(" exp ")" ) |
               ( "relevance" "(" ")" ) |
               ( "sort" "(" exp ")" ) |
               ( "strcat" "(" expList ")" ) |
               ( "strlen" "(" exp ")" ) |
               ( "size" "(" exp")" ) |
               ( "sub" "(" expList ")" ) |
               ( "time" "." ( "date" | "year" | "monthofyear" | "dayofmonth" | "dayofyear" | "dayofweek" |
                              "hourofday" | "minuteofhour" | "secondofminute" ) "(" exp ")" ) |
               ( "todouble" "(" exp ")" ) |
               ( "tolong" "(" exp ")" ) |
               ( "tostring" "(" exp ")" ) |
               ( "toraw" "(" exp ")" ) |
               ( "uca" "(" exp "," string [ "," string ] ")" ) |
               ( "xor" "(" expList ")" ) |
               ( "xorbit" "(" exp "," number ")" ) |
               ( "zcurve" "." ( "x" | "y" ) "(" exp ")" ) |
               ( attributeName "." "at" "(" number ")") |
               ( attributeName )
bucket     ::= "bucket" ( "(" | "[" | "<" )
                        ( "-inf" | rawvalue | number | string )
                        [ "," ( "inf" | rawvalue | number | string ) ]
                        ( ")" | "]" | ">" )
rawvalue   ::= "{" ( ( string | number ) "," )* "}"