Rethinking opclass member checks and dependency strength

From: Tom Lane <tgl(at)sss(dot)pgh(dot)pa(dot)us>
To: pgsql-hackers(at)lists(dot)postgresql(dot)org
Subject: Rethinking opclass member checks and dependency strength
Date: 2019-08-07 16:28:22
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Over in [1] we realized that it would be a good idea to remove the <@
operator from contrib/intarray's GiST opclasses. Unfortunately, doing
that isn't a simple matter of generating an extension update script
containing ALTER OPERATOR FAMILY DROP OPERATOR, because that operator
is marked as internally dependent on its opclass which means that
dependency.c will object. We could do some direct hacking on
pg_depend to let the DROP be allowed, but ugh.

I started to wonder why GiST opclass operators are ever considered
as required members of their opclass. The existing rule (cf.
opclasscmds.c) is that everything mentioned in CREATE OPERATOR CLASS
will have an internal dependency on the opclass, but if you add
operators or functions with ALTER OPERATOR FAMILY ADD, those just
have AUTO dependencies on their operator family. So the assumption
is that opclass creators will only put the bare minimum of required
stuff into CREATE OPERATOR CLASS and then add optional stuff with
ALTER ... ADD. But none of our contrib modules do it like that,
and I'd lay long odds against any third party code doing it either.

This leads to the thought that maybe we could put some intelligence
into an index-AM-specific callback instead. For example, for btree
and hash the appropriate rule is probably that cross-type operators
and functions should be tied to the opfamily while single-type
members are internally tied to the associated opclass. For GiST,
GIN, and SPGiST it's not clear to me that *any* operator deserves
an INTERNAL dependency; only the implementation functions do.

Furthermore, if we had an AM callback that were charged with
deciding the right dependency links for all the operators/functions,
we could also have it do some validity checking on those things,
thus moving some of the checks made by amvalidate into a more
useful place.

If we went along this line, then a dump/restore or pg_upgrade
would be enough to change an opclass's dependencies to the new
style, which would get us to a place where intarray's problem
nothing else. Such an upgrade script wouldn't work in older
releases, but I think we don't generally care about that.


regards, tom lane



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