> > I have a table which is very large (~65K rows). I have
> > a column in it which is indexed, and I wish to use for
> > a join. I'm finding that I'm using a sequential scan
> > for this when selecting a MIN.
> Due to Postgres' system of extensible aggregates (i.e. you can write
> your own aggregates), all aggregates will trigger a Seq Scan in a
> query.  It's a known drawrback that nobody has yet found a good way
> around.

I've spent some time in the past thinking about this, and here's the
best idea that I can come up with:

Part one: setup an ALTER TABLE directive that allows for the
addition/removal of cached aggregates.  Ex:

  ALTER TABLE tab1 ADD AGGREGATE CACHE ON sum(col2) WHERE col2 > 100;
  ALTER TABLE tab1 ADD AGGREGATE CACHE ON sum(col2) WHERE col2 <= 100;

Which would translate into some kind of action on a pg_aggregate_cache

aggregate_cache_oid       OID   -- OID for the aggregate cache
aggregate_table_oid       OID   -- table OID
ins_aggfn_oid             OID   -- aggregate function id for inserts
upd_aggfn_oid             OID   -- aggregate function id for updates
del_aggfn_oid             OID   -- aggregate function id for deletes
cache_value               INT   -- the value of the cache
private_data              INT[4]   -- temporary data space for needed
                                   -- data necessary to calculate cache_value
                                   -- four is just a guesstimate for how much
                                   -- space would be necessary to calculate
                                   -- the most complex of aggregates
where_clause              ???   -- I haven't the faintest idea how to
                                -- express some kind of conditional like this

Part two: setup a RULE or TRIGGER that runs on INSERT, UPDATE, or
DELETE.  For the count(*) exercise, the ON UPDATE would be a no-op.
For ON INSERT, the count(*) rule would have to do something like:

UPDATE pg_catalog.pg_aggregate_cache SET cached_value = (cached_value + 1)
       WHERE aggregate_cache_oid = 1111111;

For the sum(col2) aggregate cache, the math is a little more complex,
but I think it's quite reasonable given that it obviates a full table
scan.  For an insert:

UPDATE pg_catalog.pg_aggregate_cache SET cached_value =
       ((cached_value * private_data[0] + NEW.col2) / (private_data[0] + 1))
       WHERE aggregate_cache_oid = 1111112;

Now, there are some obvious problems:

1) avg requires a floating point return value, therefore an INT may
   not be an appropriate data type for cache_value or private_data.

2) aggregate caching wouldn't speed up anything but full table
   aggregates or regions of a column that are frequently needed.

3) all of the existing aggregates would have to be updated to include
   an insert, update, delete procedure (total of 60 aggregates, but
   only 7 by name).

4) the planner would have to be taught how to use/return values from
   the cache.

5) Each aggregate type makes use of the private_data column
   differently.  It's up to the cached aggregate function authors to
   not jumble up their private data space.

6) I don't know of a way to handle mixing of floating point numbers
   and integers.  That said, there's some margin of error that could
   creep into the floating point calculations such as avg.

And some benefits:

1) You only get caching for aggregates that you frequently use
   (sum(col2), count(*), etc.).

2) Aggregate function authors can write their own caching routines.

3) For tens of millions of rows, it can be very time consuming to
   sum() fifty million rows, but it's easy to amortize the cost of
   updating the cache on insert, update, delete over the course of a

4) If an aggregate cache definition isn't setup, it should be easy for
   the planner to fall back to a full table scan, as it currently is.

This definitely would be a performance boost and something that would
only be taken advantage of by DBAs that are intentionally performance
tuning their database, but for those that do, it could be a massive
win.  Thoughts?  -sc

Sean Chittenden

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