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Re: What is the right way to deal with a table with rows that are not in a random order?

From: Scott Marlowe <scott(dot)marlowe(at)gmail(dot)com>
To: Douglas Alan <darkwater42(at)gmail(dot)com>
Cc: pgsql-general(at)postgresql(dot)org, Jeff Davis <pgsql(at)j-davis(dot)com>
Subject: Re: What is the right way to deal with a table with rows that are not in a random order?
Date: 2009-05-29 05:39:57
Message-ID: dcc563d10905282239y758059f1xc4c7ed069b94e8c1@mail.gmail.com (view raw or flat)
Thread:
Lists: pgsql-general
On Thu, May 28, 2009 at 6:45 PM, Douglas Alan <darkwater42(at)gmail(dot)com> wrote:
> Scott Marlowe <scott(dot)marlowe(at)gmail(dot)com> wrote:
>
>> Douglas Alan wrote:
>
>>> I'm worried that turning off seqscan would distort other queries.
>>> (Remember, I don't have control of the individual queries.  The
>>> user of the application can specify all sorts of queries, and
>>> there's an ORM in the middle.)
>
>> You are aware you can turn off seq scans for just the current
>> connection, right?
>
> Yes, of course.  I thought that the suggestion was to change this
> setting in production, not just for diagnostic purposes.  As I
> previously reported, I've already changed some settings for diagnostic
> purposes and also reported what values I had to set them to to force
> an index scan for the query in question.

Well there are varying degrees of doing this in production, if needed.
 You can use a separate account for these queries that has different
settings so the query planner makes the right decision etc.

>> No one's saying to do it all the time.  They're saying to do it and
>> then run explain analyze on your query, then post the results of
>> both let us have a look.
>
> Okay -- no problem:
>
>    set enable_seqscan = on;
>    explain analyze select * from maindb_astobject
>    where survey_id = 2
>    limit 1000;
>
>    "Limit  (cost=0.00..48.03 rows=1000 width=78) (actual
> time=84837.835..265938.258 rows=1000 loops=1)"
>    "  ->  Seq Scan on maindb_astobject  (cost=0.00..3538556.10
> rows=73675167 width=78) (actual time=84837.825..265932.121 rows=1000
> loops=1)"
>    "        Filter: (survey_id = 2)"
>    "Total runtime: 265942.416 ms"
>
>    set enable_seqscan = off;
>    explain analyze select * from maindb_astobject
>    where survey_id = 2
>    limit 1000;
>
>    "Limit  (cost=0.00..67.37 rows=1000 width=78) (actual
> time=172.248..225.219 rows=1000 loops=1)"
>    "  ->  Index Scan using maindb_astobject_survey_id on
> maindb_astobject  (cost=0.00..4963500.87 rows=73675167 width=78)
> (actual time=172.240..221.078 rows=1000 loops=1)"
>    "        Index Cond: (survey_id = 2)"
>    "Total runtime: 227.412 ms"

What was the random_page_cost during these two queries?  Assuming
seq_page_cost is 1, and random_page_cost was 4 or something, lowering
it should force the move to an index scan.  If you were already at 1.0
or so, then yeah, the cost estimation is off.  Since index scans cost
CPU (at least I think they do), you might try lowering your cpu_*
costs to see if that helps


>
>>> Slow query:
>>>
>>> psql> select * from maindb_astobject
>>>      where survey_id = 2
>>>      limit 20 offset 1000;
>
>> You'll notice that in your previous posts you never mentioned offset,
>> which greatly affects the plan chosen.
>
> It makes little difference for this query.  The plan is the same with
> or without the offset.  The purpose of the offset was just to more or
> less simulate a "limit 1020" without getting deluged by 1,020 results.

Ah yes, I can see that now.

>>> P.P.S. Many other queries were very slow due to Postgres wanting to use hash
>>> joins and merge joins rather than nested index scans.
>
>> Then it's quite possible you have a problem with misestimation of
>> values in your db.  Since we have no explain ANALYZE output, we cannot
>> judge if this is the case.
>
> Okay, well if you can also tell me how to fix the hash join / merge
> join problem we are seeing without resorting to the current hack I am
> using to fix it, I will be very thankful!

Most of the time that happens, it's a question of estimates being way
off, OR various cost values.  Explain analyze with hash joins enabled
and disabled can give you an idea where the planner might be making a
mistake.  With large tables it's a good idea to crank up your default
stats target and reanalyzing anyway, so that's worth a first try.

>>> The nested index
>>> scans were, in fact, much faster.  I just turned off hash joins and merge
>>> joins:  problem solved.
>
>>One problem solved, another one created is more likely.
>
> Such as?  I haven't yet seen a nested index scan perform poorly yet.

Who knows?  Pgsql has enough other join methods it's not likely to be
a huge issue.  But if your type of query changes a lot, the nested
loops might get really slow really fast.

> Though if there is some database parameter that is set incorrectly,
> and this is causing the hash join / merge join problem, then I can see
> that having that parameter not be set correctly could be a source of
> many future woes, so I certainly would appreciate any insight into
> that.

Most common cause of these being the wrong choice are default stats
target too low for your data.  But you've only got like 4 values in
this one field, so I doubt that has a big effect.

>
> |>ouglas
>
>
> P.S. Here are the stats on the column. It appears that my recollection
> of 25% of the table matching was a bit off. It's actually 98.5%!  That
> might explain more why Postgres wants to do a sequential scan. The
> problem is that still means that it has to scan a million rows
> sequentially before it finds a single matching row, as the matching
> rows are at the end of the database:

Yeah, that's a really skewed distribution.  Partitioning may work out,
especially if you often select on that one field.

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