Kenneth Marshall wrote:
On Tue, Sep 25, 2007 at 03:35:47PM +0100, Gregory Stark wrote:
"Kenneth Marshall" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> writes:

On Thu, Sep 20, 2007 at 05:12:45PM -0700, Tom Raney wrote:

Using our implementation, build times and index sizes are
comparable with btree index build times and index sizes.
That is super! (and timely)
It is pretty super. I have a few comments to raise but don't take it to be too
negative, it sounds like this is a big step forward towards making hash
indexes valuable.

Firstly in the graphs it seems the index size graph has an exponential x-axis
but a linear y-axis. This makes it hard to see what I would expect to be
pretty much linear growth. The curves look exponential which would mean linear
growth but of course it's hard to tell.

Also, the growth in the time chart looks pretty much linear. That seems weird
since I would expect there would be a visible extra component since sort times
are n-log(n). Perhaps you need to test still larger tables to see that though.

In any case it's clear from the results you have there that the change is a
positive one and fixes a fundamental problem with the hash index build code.

Something else you should perhaps test is indexing something which is
substantially larger than hash function output. A hash function is going to
make the most sense when indexing something like strings for which you want to
avoid the long comparison costs. Especially consider testing this on a UTF8
locale with expensive comparisons (like a CJK locale for example).

Note that the bottom line for the problems with hash indexes is that the
current implementation doesn't offer any advantages over btree indexes. Hash
indexes need to be not only as good of a choice as btree indexes but
significantly better a significantly better choice at least for some specific

Also, if you're going to submit a patch you should check out a copy of the CVS
HEAD and work from that. I don't think there are huge differences in the area
of hash indexes though. But in most other areas you would be spending quite a
bit of time dealing details which have changed since.

Finally note that we're in the final throes of the 8.3 feature freeze.
Normally any patch submitted now would be held until 8.3 is released and
development on 8.4 is started. I could imagine an exception being made for
hash indexes since they're so moribund currently but probably not. The flip
side of that argument is that there's not much point in making an exception
for something which will only be really useful once further work is done in
the same area.

Although I am very excited about this patch, I do not see any real value
in including it in 8.3. As you mention, we need to to have a hash index
implementation that outperforms btree in some problem regime and that is
currently not the case. I have just recently started the process of
gathering ideas and having discussions on various approaches to making
hash indexes more performant and we have a number of ideas on which to
start our investigation. I do think that this patch will make the testing
and evaluation, that will be needed to truly improve the hash index, much
much easier.


We're glad to contribute and be a part of Postgres. The patch has been posted to [EMAIL PROTECTED]

Speeding up the creation time of hash indexes on non-trivial relations was our goal. This will allow some interesting performance tests of the hash index on very large relations. It may be that the near constant lookup time of the hash index outperforms the Btree index for some large data sets and for certain types of data and distributions.

Tom Raney

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