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Re: Query Sampling

From: Simon Riggs <simon(at)2ndquadrant(dot)com>
To: Varun Kacholia <kacholia(at)gmail(dot)com>
Cc: pgsql-hackers(at)postgresql(dot)org
Subject: Re: Query Sampling
Date: 2005-08-29 20:25:20
Message-ID: 1125347120.4010.281.camel@localhost.localdomain (view raw, whole thread or download thread mbox)
Lists: pgsql-hackers
On Sat, 2005-08-27 at 17:00 -0700, Varun Kacholia wrote:
> Hi everybody,
>   I would like to add query sampling support to postgresql (atleast as a part of
>  my project, if someone feels strongly against checking it in the main branch).
> I have been going over the code and I do see a lot of sampling stuff
> in backend/commands/analyze.c. However, I plan to add sampling support
> to the
> executor, allowing the following types of queries:
> (This is supported by DB2).

This is part of the ISO/ANSI SQL standard, so would no doubt be accepted
as a feature into PostgreSQL. 

I assume you realise that Bernoulli sampling is currently possibly using
the random() function and setseed() ?

SYSTEM sampling could be a good performance gain for SELECTs requiring
fast sampling operations against large tables. That's a common situation
for data mining applications.

> For starters I think this should be doable in the executor by cannibalizing
> nodeSeqscan.c and adding sampling support to it.
> However I am concerned about the planner optimizations as it might decide
> to run an index scan (instead of a sequential scan) for a particular
> base relation.
> My question is: Is there any easy way of forcing the optimizer to
> choose sequential
> scan for a particular relation? (I apologize if this is documented in
> the planner code
> as I am still going over it).
> I would appreciate any other comments.

I can't see why TABLESAMPLE effects a sequential scan *only*, in all
cases. I agree that there seems little point in sampling rows from a
table when it is already sufficiently restricted that the query could
use an index. 

AFAICS this clause would potentially effect Index and Bitmap scans also,
and would be required for full correctness to the standard.

In terms of the standard syntax, BERNOULLI sampling might be slightly
easier to implement within the row-oriented logic of the executor.
However, I'd suggest that SYSTEM might be a more useful starting place
since it could greatly improve performance for sampling operations.
SYSTEM sampling allows you to skip whole blocks altogether, or even
groups of blocks so that filesystem readahead could still give you
sequential I/O, even while sampling. (The standard doesn't say anything
about how you achieve this, hence "SYSTEM" - but it does relax the
requirement that the probability of a row's inclusion in the result set
is independent of other rows).

You would need to be careful to sample the whole table though, rather
than to follow the temptation to just scan the first X% of it. The start
of a table has a tendency to be dead tuples, which was an error that the
sampling logic in 7.4 made, so it would be wise to avoid repeating that.

I'd be willing to lend a hand over the coming year - since 8.1 just went
beta we can expect a good few months before the next code deadline.

Best Regards, Simon Riggs

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