2011/5/10 Robert Haas <robertmh...@gmail.com>:
> So, what do we need in order to find our way to index-only scans?
> 3. Statistics.  I believe that in order to accurately estimate the
> cost of an index-only scan, we're going to need to know the fraction
> of tuples that are on pages whose visibility map bits are set.  I
> believe it should be fairly straightforward to have ANALYZE collect
> this information; and I'm inclined to do that as a separate patch.  It
> seems like it would also be nice to know what fraction of tuples are
> on pages that don't have the visibility map set but where, in fact,
> all tuples on the page are visible to all transactions, so it would be
> legal to set the bit.  A large discrepancy between these two
> percentages might be a good reason to auto-vacuum the table (perhaps
> using a "really lazy vacuum"[2]).  I'm not sure if this can be added
> cheaply, though, and in any case, any change to the set of criteria
> that will trigger an auto-vacuum is probably a can of worms.
> Thoughts?

ANALYZE can do the stats job for 'free' on the pages it collects
anyway. So that looks like a good idea.
I believe the really lazy vacuum is another topic; even if it will
improve the performance of the index only scan to have tables already
vacuuumed, the stats should expose that and the function
cost_index(_only?)() taking care of that.

> 4. Planner and executor changes.  In contrast to Heikki's original
> implementation, I'm inclined to not to try to split the Index Scan
> node into index scan and heap fetch.  Since there are many choices for
> where to put the heap fetch node (any level of the join tree between
> the index scan and the root), this seems likely to result in a
> combinatorial explosion of paths[3], and I'm not real sure that the
> payback will be adequate.  Furthermore, the idea of allowing user code
> to see tuples that will only later be determined not to have been
> visible to that MVCC snapshot in the first place seems pretty scary
> from a security perspective, though certainly there are possible
> benefits[4].  Instead, I'm inclined to just have the planner evaluate
> whether the necessary columns can be extracted purely from the index.

The temptation is high to estimate the cost of an "index_scan(only) +
ordered(by ctid) table pages fetch if heap required". (this is what I
understood from heikki suggestion 3-4. and it makes sense). It may be
easier to implement both at once but I didn't find the branch in the
Heikki's git repos. (probably removed since the long time)

> If not, we proceed as now.  If so, we can use the "index only"
> approach of using the visibility map to decide which heap fetches can
> be skipped.  It's not clear to me whether we need to compare the cost
> of the standard approach with the cost of the "index only" approach:
> in theory, if there aren't any visibility map bits anyway, the "index
> only" approach could be slower.  But I'm not sure whether that problem
> is significant or common enough to be worth expending a lot of code
> on.  Either way, the number of actual paths doesn't need to increase,
> because in this design, even if we apply a costing model, one approach
> will dominate the other.  Heikki also suggested considering index
> scans in cases where we don't now[4, again] but I'm inclined to leave
> this, too, for a later optimization, again because balancing the
> increase in paths against the possible performance benefits of using
> indexes in more situations seems finicky.  In short, for a first cut
> at this, I just want to look at this as a way to get cheaper index
> scans, and leave everything else to future work.

Based on ANALYZE stats for the visibility, I believe cost_index and
cost_index_only should be very similar functions (well, atm, I don't
see the point to split it in 2 functions).

> Any thoughts welcome.  Incidentally, if anyone else feels like working
> on this, feel free to let me know and I'm happy to step away, from all
> of it or from whatever part someone else wants to tackle.  I'm mostly
> working on this because it's something that I think we really need to
> get done, more than having a burning desire to be the one who does it.

Indexonly scans are welcome!
I believe I can help on 3 and 4, but (really) not sure for 1 and 2.

> --
> Robert Haas
> EnterpriseDB: http://www.enterprisedb.com
> The Enterprise PostgreSQL Company
> [1] http://archives.postgresql.org/pgsql-hackers/2011-05/msg00292.php
> [2] http://archives.postgresql.org/pgsql-hackers/2011-03/msg00946.php
> [3] http://archives.postgresql.org/pgsql-hackers/2009-09/msg01379.php
> [4] http://archives.postgresql.org/pgsql-hackers/2009-07/msg00675.php
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Cédric Villemain               2ndQuadrant
http://2ndQuadrant.fr/     PostgreSQL : Expertise, Formation et Support

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