Converting a 64-bit hex string to INT64 with BigQuery

I recently had the need to convert a 64-bit hex string to an INT64 value in a BigQuery user defined function (UDF). I’ll post more about why later but for now lets just say you have a sixteen character hex string such as 7FFFFFFFFFFFFFFF and need it as an INT64 value. Easy you say, just prepend “0x” and do CAST("0x7FFFFFFFFFFFFFFF" AS INT64).
But what if you have something just a bit bigger, like 8000000000000000? Let’s try that:

SELECT CAST("0x8000000000000000" AS INT64); and we get the error:

Could not cast literal "0x8000000000000000" to type INT64

The problem is that INT64 is a signed value in BigQuery (and other Google cloud databases like Spanner) with values ranging from -9,223,372,036,854,775,808 to 9,223,372,036,854,775,807.

So we have to convert from the hex using two’s compliment. I recently wrote some code in Python to do this:

def uint64_to_signedInt64(v):
    MAX_INT64 = 2**63-1

    if v > MAX_INT64:
        return (v & MAX_INT64) - (MAX_INT64 + 1)
        return v

But since we can’t create an INT64 from the hex string we break it into two 32-bit values. The most significant is the first 8 characters of the hex string (remember each character in hex is 4-bits or a “nibble”). The least significant is the last 8 characters. v & MAX_INT64 is emulated by taking the most significant 32-bits and AND-ing with 0x7fffffff and shifting to the left 32 times then OR-ing with the least significant 32-bits. This gives us a pure-SQL UDF like so:

  hex64ToInt64(hex STRING)
    IF(hex < "8000000000000000", 
       cast(concat("0x", hex) AS INT64), 
       (SELECT (((ms32 & 0x7fffffff) << 32) | ls32) - 0x7fffffffffffffff - 1
        FROM (SELECT cast(concat("0x", substr(hex, 1, 8)) AS INT64) AS ms32,
                     cast(concat("0x", substr(hex, 9, 8)) AS INT64) AS ls32))));

Now we can calculate select hex64ToInt64("8000000000000000") which is the most negative signed INT64 number -9223372036854775808 and select hex64ToInt64("ffffffffffffffff") is the least negative number -1.

I’ll soon show you how I’ve used this function as part of a BigQuery emulation of Postgres’ HLL extension from Citus

Written on March 27, 2019