Referential Integrity Checks with Statement-level Triggers

From: Corey Huinker <corey(dot)huinker(at)gmail(dot)com>
To: pgsql-hackers(at)postgresql(dot)org
Subject: Referential Integrity Checks with Statement-level Triggers
Date: 2018-12-17 14:32:09
Message-ID: CADkLM=dFuNHNiZ9Pop1pqa+HPh4T9WuwnjwSf6UAvnxcgUaQdA@mail.gmail.com
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Back when Pg added statement-level triggers, I was interested in the
potential promise of moving referential integrity checks to statement-level
triggers.

The initial conversation, along with Kevin Grittner's POC script (in SQL)
that showed a potential for a 98% reduction in time spent doing RI checks.
The original thread is here:

https://www.postgresql.org/message-id/CACjxUsM4s9%3DCUmPU4YFOYiD5f%3D2ULVDBjuFSo20Twe7KbUe8Mw%40mail.gmail.com

I dug around in the code, and was rather surprised at how close we already
are to implementing this. The function RI_Initial_Check() already does a
left-join query via SPI to look for any invalid data, so if we could just
replace the near table with the transition table for inserted rows, we'd be
home free. The function SPI_register_trigger_data() makes the transition
tables visible to SPI, so I started to wonder why this hadn't be done
already.

I approached Kevin and Thomas Munro seeking feedback on my approach. I also
made it into a session at the PgConf.ASIA un-conference, and then later
with Michael Paquier at that same conference, and the coalesced feedback
was this:

- the overhead of registering the transition tables probably makes it
unprofitable for single row inserts
- the single row overhead is itself significant, so maybe the transition
tables aren't worse
- there has been talk of replacing transition tables with an in-memory data
structure that would be closer to "free" from a startup perspective and
might even coalesce the transition tables of multiple statements in the
same transaction
- because no declarative code changes, it's trivial to switch from row
level to statement level triggering via pg_upgrade
- assuming that transition tables are an overhead that only pays off when >
N rows have been updated, does it make sense to enforce RI with something
that isn't actually a trigger?
- there was also some mention that parallel query uses a queue mechanism
that might be leveraged to do row-level triggers for updates of <= N rows
and statement level for > N

That's what I have so far. I'm going to be working on a POC patch so that I
can benchmark a pure-statement-level solution, which if nothing else will
let us know the approximate value of N.

All suggestions are appreciated.

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