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Chapter 20. GiST Indices

The information about GIST is at http://GiST.CS.Berkeley.EDU:8000/gist/ with more on different indexing and sorting schemes at http://s2k-ftp.CS.Berkeley.EDU:8000/personal/jmh/. And there is more interesting reading at and

Author: This extraction from an email sent by Eugene Selkov, Jr. () contains good information on GiST. Hopefully we will learn more in the future and update this information. - thomas 1998-03-01

Well, I can't say I quite understand what's going on, but at least I (almost) succeeded in porting GiST examples to linux. The GiST access method is already in the postgres tree (src/backend/access/gist).

Examples at Berkeley come with an overview of the methods and demonstrate spatial index mechanisms for 2D boxes, polygons, integer intervals and text (see also GiST at Berkeley). In the box example, we are supposed to see a performance gain when using the GiST index; it did work for me but I do not have a reasonably large collection of boxes to check that. Other examples also worked, except polygons: I got an error doing

test=> create index pix on polytmp
test-> using gist (p:box gist_poly_ops) with (islossy);
ERROR:  cannot open pix

(PostgreSQL 6.3               Sun Feb  1 14:57:30 EST 1998)

I could not get sense of this error message; it appears to be something we'd rather ask the developers about (see also Note 4 below). What I would suggest here is that someone of you linux guys (linux==gcc?) fetch the original sources quoted above and apply my patch (see attachment) and tell us what you feel about it. Looks cool to me, but I would not like to hold it up while there are so many competent people around.

A few notes on the sources:

1. I failed to make use of the original (HPUX) Makefile and rearranged the Makefile from the ancient postgres95 tutorial to do the job. I tried to keep it generic, but I am a very poor makefile writer -- just did some monkey work. Sorry about that, but I guess it is now a little more portable that the original makefile.

2. I built the example sources right under pgsql/src (just extracted the tar file there). The aforementioned Makefile assumes it is one level below pgsql/src (in our case, in pgsql/src/pggist).

3. The changes I made to the *.c files were all about #include's, function prototypes and typecasting. Other than that, I just threw away a bunch of unused vars and added a couple parentheses to please gcc. I hope I did not screw up too much :)

4. There is a comment in polyproc.sql:

-- -- there's a memory leak in rtree poly_ops!!
-- -- create index pix2 on polytmp using rtree (p poly_ops);
Roger that!! I thought it could be related to a number of Postgres versions back and tried the query. My system went nuts and I had to shoot down the postmaster in about ten minutes.

I will continue to look into GiST for a while, but I would also appreciate more examples of R-tree usage.

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