Have an interesting issue with a complex query, where apparently I need to 
twist the query planner's arm, and am looking for advice on how to do so.

The situation:  I have a table, events, with about 300,000 records.  
It does an outer join to a second table, cases, with about 150,000 records.

A very simplified version query would be like

FROM events LEFT OUTER JOIN cases ON events.case_id = cases.case_id
WHERE events.event_date BETWEEN 'date1' AND 'date2'

This join is very expensive, as you can imagine.   Yet I can't seem to force 
the query planner to apply the filter conditions to the events table *before* 
attempting to join it to cases.  Here's the crucial explain lines:

                                 ->  Merge Left Join  (cost=0.00..11880.82 
rows=15879 width=213) (actual time=5.777..901.899 rows=648 loops=1)
                                       Merge Cond: ("outer".case_id = 
                                       Join Filter: (("outer".link_type)::text 
= 'case'::text)
                                       ->  Index Scan using idx_event_ends on 
events  (cost=0.00..4546.15 rows=15879 width=80
) (actual time=4.144..333.769 rows=648 loops=1)
                                             Filter: ((status <> 0) AND 
((event_date + duration) >= '2004-02-18 00:00:00'::timestamp without time 
zone) AND (event_date <= '2004-03-05 23:59:00'::timestamp without time zone))
                                       ->  Index Scan using cases_pkey on 
cases  (cost=0.00..6802.78 rows=117478 width=137) (
actual time=0.139..402.363 rows=116835 loops=1)

As you can see, part of the problem is a pretty drastic (20x) mis-estimation 
of the selectivity of the date limits on events -- and results in 90% of the 
execution time of my query on this one join.  I've tried raising the 
statistics on event_date, duration, and case_id (to 1000), but this doesn't 
seem to affect the estimate or the query plan.

In the above test, idx_event_ends indexes (case_id, status, event_date, 
(event_date + duration)), but as you can see the planner uses only the first 
column.  This was an attempt to circumvent the planner's tendency to 
completely ignoring any index on (event_date, (event_date + duration))  -- 
even though that index is the most selective combination on the events table.

Is there anything I can do to force the query planner to filter on events 
before joining cases, other than waiting for version 7.5?

-Josh Berkus
 Aglio Database Solutions
 San Francisco

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