Quoth [EMAIL PROTECTED] (Jeff Davis):
> On Thu, 2006-10-12 at 17:28 -0400, Tom Lane wrote:
>> [ trying once again to push this thread over to -hackers where it belongs ]
>> Arjen van der Meijden <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> writes:
>> > On 12-10-2006 21:07 Jeff Davis wrote:
>> >> On Thu, 2006-10-12 at 19:15 +0200, Csaba Nagy wrote:
>> >> To formalize the proposal a litte, you could have syntax like:
>> >> CREATE HINT [FOR USER username] MATCHES regex APPLY HINT some_hint;
>> >> 
>> >> Where "some_hint" would be a hinting language perhaps like
>> >> Jim's, except not guaranteed to be compatible between versions
>> >> of PostgreSQL. The developers could change the hinting language
>> >> at every release and people can just re-write the hints without
>> >> changing their application.
>> Do you have any idea how much push-back there would be to that?  In
>> practice we'd be bound by backwards-compatibility concerns for the
>> hints too.
> No, I don't have any idea, except that it would be less push-back
> than changing a language that's embedded in client code. Also, I see
> no reason to think that a hint would not be obsolete upon a new
> release anyway.

I see *plenty* of reason.

1.  Suppose the scenario where Hint h was useful hasn't been affected
    by *any* changes in how the query planner works in the new
    version, it *obviously* continues to be necessary.

2.  If Version n+0.1 hasn't resolved all/most cases where Hint h was
    useful in Version n, then people will entirely reasonably expect
    for Hint h to continue to be in effect in version n+0.1

3.  Suppose support for Hint h is introduced in PostgreSQL version
    n, and an optimization that makes it obsolete does not arrive
    until version n+0.3, which is quite possible.  That hint has been
    carried forward for 2 versions already, long enough for client
    code that contains it to start to ossify.  (After all, if
    developers get promoted to new projects every couple of years,
    two versions is plenty of time for the original programmer to 
    be gone...)

That's not just one good reason, but three.

>> The problems that you are seeing all come from the insistence that a
>> hint should be textually associated with a query.  Using a regex is a
>> little better than putting it right into the query, but the only thing
> "Little better" is all I was going for. I was just making the
> observation that we can separate two concepts:
> (1) Embedding code in the client's queries, which I see as very
> undesirable and unnecessary
> (2) Providing very specific hints
> which at least gives us a place to talk about the debate more
> reasonably.

It seems to me that there is a *LOT* of merit in trying to find
alternatives to embedding code into client queries, to be sure.

>> that really fixes is not having the hints directly embedded into
>> client-side code.  It's still wrong at the conceptual level.
> I won't disagree with that. I will just say it's no more wrong than
> applying the same concept in addition to embedding the hints in client
> queries.
>> The right way to think about it is to ask why is the planner not
>> picking the right plan to start with --- is it missing a
>> statistical correlation, or are its cost parameters wrong for a
>> specific case, or is it perhaps unable to generate the desired plan
>> at all?  (If the latter, no amount of hinting is going to help.)
>> If it's a statistics or costing problem, I think the right thing is
>> to try to fix it with hints at that level.  You're much more likely
>> to fix the behavior across a class of queries than you will be with
>> a hint textually matched to a specific query.
> Agreed.

That's definitely a useful way to look at the issue, which seems to be
lacking in many of the cries for hints.

Perhaps I'm being unfair, but it often seems that people demanding
hinting systems are uninterested in why the planner is getting things
wrong.  Yes, they have an immediate problem (namely the wrong plan
that is getting generated) that they want to resolve.

But I'm not sure that you can get anything out of hinting without
coming close to answering "why the planner got it wrong."
"Optimization hinders evolution."  -- Alan Perlis

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