On 1-9-2005 19:42, Matthew Sackman wrote:
Obviously, to me, this is a problem, I need these queries to be under a
second to complete. Is this unreasonable? What can I do to make this "go
faster"? I've considered normalising the table but I can't work out
whether the slowness is in dereferencing the pointers from the index
into the table or in scanning the index in the first place. And
normalising the table is going to cause much pain when inserting values
and I'm not entirely sure if I see why normalising it should cause a
massive performance improvement.

In this case, I think normalising will give a major decrease in on-disk table-size of this large table and the indexes you have. If that's the case, that in itself will speed-up all i/o-bound queries quite a bit.

locality_1, _2, city and county can probably be normalised away without much problem, but going from varchar's to integers will probably safe you quite a bit of (disk)space.

But since it won't change the selectivity of indexes, so you won't get more index-scans instead of sequential scans, I suppose. I think its not that hard to create a normalized set of tables from this data-set (using insert into tablename select distinct ... from address and such, insert into address_new (..., city) select ... (select cityid from cities where city = address.city) from address) So its at least relatively easy to figure out the performance improvement from normalizing the dataset a bit.

If you want to improve your hardware, have a look at the Western Digital Raptor-series SATA disks, they are fast scsi-like SATA drives. You may also have a look at the amount of memory available, to allow caching this (entire) table.

Best regards,


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TIP 9: In versions below 8.0, the planner will ignore your desire to
      choose an index scan if your joining column's datatypes do not

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