How to create fast database queries

Archive for April 2nd, 2009

Emulating SKIP SCAN

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In the previous article I wrote about ranged conditions (<, >, <=, >= or BETWEEN) on one field combined with ORDER BY another field.

We have to choose an index either for filtering or for sorting, as a single index cannot be used for both purposes.

Well, actually, it can.

There is a special access method called SKIP SCAN, designed just for these cases. This method can be used when a filtering condition applied to a secondary column of a composite index. Like, we have and index on (orderer, ranger) and search for ranger < 10.

This method scans the index bottom to top, selecting each possible orderer values. For each orderer, it applies the filtering condition on ranger, thus obtaining a valid range condition on the index that can be iterated. As soon and this range is iterated, the method defines the range for the next orderer, skipping all other values (hence the name).

SKIP SCAN does not perform as well as a simple index scan, but a query can benefit from it is there are few orderer's in the table.

Oracle supports this method directly, but MySQL, of course, not. SKIP SCAN, though, can be easily emulated.
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Written by Quassnoi

April 2nd, 2009 at 11:00 pm

Posted in MySQL