How to create fast database queries

Archive for August 10th, 2009

Fallback language names: MySQL

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This is a series of articles on efficient querying for a localized name, using a default (fallback) language if there is no localized name:

A quick reminder of the problem taken from Stack Overflow:

I have table item and another table language which contains names for the items in different languages:

item language data

How do I select a French name for an item if it exists, or a fallback English name if there is no French one?

We basically have three options here:

  1. Use COALESCE on two SELECT list subqueries
  2. Use COALESCE on the results of two LEFT JOINS
  3. Use the combination of methods above: a LEFT JOIN for French names and a subquery for English ones

Efficiency of each of these method depends of the fallback probability (how many items are covered by the localization).

If the localization is poor and but few terms are translated into the local language, the probability of the fallback is high. I took Latin language as an example for this.

If almost all terms are translated, the probability of fallback is low. In this case, I took French as an example (as in the original quiestion), since it is widely used and localizations are likely to cover most terms.

In Oracle, SQL Server and PostgreSQL, the second method (two LEFT JOINs) is more efficient to query poorly localized languages, while for well-localized languages the third query should be used, i. e. a LEFT JOIN for the local language and a subquery for the fallback one.

To gain efficiency, all these systems used some kind of a join method that performs better on the large portions of the rowset, i. e. HASH JOIN or MERGE JOIN.

MySQL, however, is only capable of doing nested loops, so MySQL's performance should differ from one of the engines tested earlier.

Let's create sample tables and see:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Quassnoi

August 10th, 2009 at 11:00 pm

Posted in MySQL