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TupleTableSlot API problem

From: Tom Lane <tgl(at)sss(dot)pgh(dot)pa(dot)us>
To: pgsql-hackers(at)postgreSQL(dot)org
Subject: TupleTableSlot API problem
Date: 2009-03-29 21:21:37
Message-ID: (view raw or whole thread)
Lists: pgsql-hackers
In CVS HEAD, try this in an assert-enabled build:

    id INTEGER PRIMARY KEY,                                        
    parent_id INTEGER REFERENCES tree(id)

VALUES (1, NULL), (2, 1), (3,1), (4,2), (5,2), (6,2), (7,3), (8,3),
       (9,4), (10,4), (11,7), (12,7), (13,7), (14, 9), (15,11), (16,11);

WITH RECURSIVE t(id, path) AS (
    SELECT, t.path ||
    FROM tree JOIN t ON (tree.parent_id =
SELECT, t2.path, t2 FROM t AS t1 JOIN t AS t2 ON

I get
ERROR:  cache lookup failed for type 2139062143
(the error might be less predictable in a non-assert build).

What is happening is that ExecProject fetches the Datum value of t2.path
from a TupleTableSlot that contains a "minimal tuple" fetched from the
tuplestore associated with the CTE "t".  Then, it fetches the value of
the whole-row variable t2.  ExecEvalWholeRowVar calls
ExecFetchSlotTuple, which finds that the slot doesn't contain a regular
tuple, so it calls ExecMaterializeSlot, which replaces the minimal tuple
with a regular tuple and frees the former.  Now the already-fetched
Datum for t2.path is pointing at freed storage.

In principle there ought to be a whole lot of bugs around this area,
because ExecFetchSlotTuple, ExecFetchSlotMinimalTuple, and
ExecFetchSlotTupleDatum all are potentially destructive of the original
slot contents; furthermore there ought be be visible bugs in 8.3 and
maybe before.  However, in an hour or so of poking at it, I've been
unable to produce a failure without using CTE syntax; it's just really
hard to get the planner to generate a whole-row-var reference in a
context where the referenced slot might contain a minimal tuple.
Still, I suspect that merely shows I'm being insufficiently creative
today.  I think we ought to assume there's a related bug in existing
branches unless someone can prove there's not.

One solution to this problem is to redefine these functions as always
returning locally palloc'd tuples, so that they can be guaranteed to not
modify the contents of the Slot.  That's fairly unfortunate though since
in the vast majority of cases it will result in a palloc/pfree cycle
that is not necessary.  It would also mean changing most of the callers
to pfree the results, unless we can tolerate memory leaks there.

Plan B is to agree that these functions should be documented as
potentially destructive of the slot contents, in which case this is just
a bug in ExecEvalWholeRowVar: it should be using a call that is
nondestructive (eg ExecCopySlotTuple).  (So far as I can determine from
looking at the callers, only ExecEvalWholeRowVar and its sibling
ExecEvalWholeRowSlow actually pose a risk; no other call sites look like
there's any risk of having other existing references into the slot

Plan C is to change the Slot logic so that a slot can store both regular
and minimal tuples, not just one or the other.  It would only actually
do that if one format is stored into it and then the other is requested.
The eventual ExecClearTuple would then free both copies.  Whichever
format is not the one originally stored is secondary and isn't used for
fetching individual datums from the Slot.  This nets out at the same
performance we have now, it just postpones the pfree() that currently
happens immediately when we change the slot's format.  It might result
in higher peak memory use but I'm not exceedingly worried about that.

Plan C is probably the most complicated to code, but I'm inclined to try
to fix it that way, because plan A loses performance and plan B exposes
us to a continuing risk of future bugs of the same type.

Comments, better ideas?

			regards, tom lane


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Subject: Re: TupleTableSlot API problem
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Subject: Re: psql \d* and system objects

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