On Sat, 15 Oct 2005, Craig A. James wrote:

We are indexing about 5 million small documents using tsearch2/GIST. Each "document" contains 2 to 50 words. This is a "write once, read many" situation. Write performance is unimportant, and the database contents are static. (We build it offline.)

We're having problems with inconsistent performance, and it's very hard to separate the effects of various factors. Here are the things we think may be relevant.

1. Total number of words

Our documents currently contain about 110,000 unique words. Oleg wrote: "[The limit is] 100K, but it's very fuzzy limit." By trial and error, we've learned that 50,000 works well, and 150,000 works poorly, so Oleg's comment appears to be a good rule-of-thumb. (With SIGLENINT enlarged, see below.) But there may be other factors that affect this conclusion (such as shared memory, total memory, etc.).

Did you consider *decreasing* SIGLENINT ? Size of index will diminish
and performance could be increased. I use in current project SIGLENINT=15

2. Total size of the table

5 million documents is not a very big database (each document is a few to a few hundred bytes), so we don't think this is relevant.

3. Number of documents per word

There seems to be a VERY strong effect related to "common" words. When a word occurs in more than about 1% of the documents (say 50,000 to 150,000 documents), performance goes WAY down. Not just for that specific query, but it screws up tsearch2/GIST completely.

We have a test of 100 queries that return 382,000 documents total. The first time we run it, it's slow, about 20 minutes (as expected). The second time we run it, it's very fast, about 72 seconds -- very fast!! As long as we avoid queries with common words, performance is very good.

But, if we run just one query that contains a common word (a word that's in more than about 2% of the documents, roughly 150,000 documents), then the next time we run the 100 test queries, it will take 20 minutes again.

We can't simply eliminate these common words. First of all, they can be very significant. Second, it doesn't seem like 2% is "common". I can understand that a words like "the" which occur in most documents shouldn't be indexed. But a word that occurs in 2% of the database seems like a very good word to index, yet it causes us great problems.

tsearch2's index is a lossy index, read 
so search results  should be rechecked !

I've read a bit about tsearchd, and wonder if it would solve our problem. For our application, consistent performance is VERY important. If we could lock the GIST index into memory, I think it would fix our problem.

I think so, tsearchd was designed for static contents in mind and it's
index doesn't require rechecking !

I tried copying the GIST indexes (which are in a separate tablespace) to a 1 GB RAM disk, and it made the initial query faster, but overall performance seemed worse, probably because the RAM disk was using memory that could have been used by the file-system cache.

4. Available RAM and Disk drives

Would more RAM help? How would we tell Postgres to use it effectively? The GIST indexes are currently about 2.6 GB on the disk.

try to decrease signature size, say, #define SIGLENINT 15

I feel like I'm shooting in the dark -- Linux, Postgres and tsearch2/GIST are interacting in ways that I can't predict or analyze. Thanks very much for any comments and advice.

We have our TODO http://www.sai.msu.su/~megera/oddmuse/index.cgi/todo
and hope to find sponsorhips for fts project for 8.2 release.
Unfortunately, I didn't find spare time to package tsearchd for you,
it should certainly help you.

Oleg Bartunov, sci.researcher, hostmaster of AstroNet,
Sternberg Astronomical Institute, Moscow University (Russia)
Internet: oleg@sai.msu.su, http://www.sai.msu.su/~megera/
phone: +007(095)939-16-83, +007(095)939-23-83

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