Re: Row estimates for empty tables

From: Tom Lane <tgl(at)sss(dot)pgh(dot)pa(dot)us>
To: pgsql-hackers(at)lists(dot)postgresql(dot)org
Cc: Pavel Stehule <pavel(dot)stehule(at)gmail(dot)com>, Christophe Pettus <xof(at)thebuild(dot)com>, David Rowley <dgrowleyml(at)gmail(dot)com>
Subject: Re: Row estimates for empty tables
Date: 2020-07-24 22:34:45
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I wrote:
> The core issue here is "how do we know whether the table is likely to stay
> empty?". I can think of a couple of more or less klugy solutions:

> 1. Arrange to send out a relcache inval when adding the first page to
> a table, and then remove the planner hack for disbelieving relpages = 0.
> I fear this'd be a mess from a system structural standpoint, but it might
> work fairly transparently.

I experimented with doing this. It's not hard to code, if you don't mind
having RelationGetBufferForTuple calling CacheInvalidateRelcache. I'm not
sure whether that code path might cause any long-term problems, but it
seems to work OK right now. However, this solution causes massive
"failures" in the regression tests as a result of plans changing. I'm
sure that's partly because we use so many small tables in the tests.
Nonetheless, it's not promising from the standpoint of not causing
unexpected problems in the real world.

> 2. Establish the convention that vacuuming or analyzing an empty table
> is what you do to tell the system that this state is going to persist.
> That's more or less what the existing comments in plancat.c envision,
> but we never made a definition for how the occurrence of that event
> would be recorded in the catalogs, other than setting relpages > 0.
> Rather than adding another pg_class column, I'm tempted to say that
> vacuum/analyze should set relpages to a minimum of 1, even if the
> relation has zero pages.

I also tried this, and it seems a lot more promising: no existing
regression test cases change. So perhaps we should do the attached
or something like it.

regards, tom lane

Attachment Content-Type Size
set-relpages-nonzero-after-vacuum-or-analyze.patch text/x-diff 2.5 KB

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