MySQL function indexes

MySQL indexes: Starting with MySQL 5.7, you can create indexes for expressions, or functional indexes using the generated columns. Basically you need to first use the generated column to define a functional expression and then index that column.

Very useful when working with JSON functions, you can find an example here and documentation there.

MYSQL INDEXES

Starting with MySQL 8.0.13 we now have the easiest way to create functional indices.

Let’s see, this is a quick practical example:

  • Using MySQL 8.0.15
  • Request the test_db database

Below is the structure of my_my_salaries table:

mysql> SHOW CREATE TABLE mysalaries\G
******************************* 1. row ***********************
Table: my_salaries
Create Table: CREATE TABLE `my_salaries` (
`sal_no` int(11) NOT NULL,
`salary` int(11) NOT NULL,
`from_date` date NOT NULL,
`to_date` date NOT NULL,
PRIMARY KEY (`sal_no`, `from_date`),
CONSTRAINT `my_salaries_ibfk_1` FOREIGN KEY (`sal_no`) REFERENCES `employees` (`sal_no`) ON DELETE CASCADE
) ENGINE=InnoDB DEFAULT CHARSET=utf8mb4 COLLATE=utf8mb4_0900_ai_ci
1 row in set (0.00 sec)

It contains some data

mysql> SELECT count(*) FROM my_salaries;
+----------+
| count(*) |
+----------+
| 356767 |
+----------+

mysql> SELECT * FROM my_salaries LIMIT 3;
+--------+--------+------------+------------+
| sal_no | salary | from_date | to_date |
+--------+--------+------------+------------+
| 10001 | 55000 | 2020-01-27 | 2020-02-27 |
| 10001 | 56000 | 2020-02-27 | 2020-03-27 |
| 10001 | 60000 | 2020-03-27 | 2020-04-27 |
+--------+--------+------------+------------+

Let’s focus on the next request:

mysql> SELECT * FROM my_salaries WHERE YEAR(to_date)=2019;

+--------+--------+------------+------------+
| sal_no | salary | from_date | to_date |
+--------+--------+------------+------------+
| 9564 | 48000 | 2019-01-27 | 2019-02-27 |
...snip...
| 9574 | 48000 | 2019-02-27 | 2019-03-27 |
+--------+--------+------------+------------+
89 rows in set (0.80 sec)

mysql> explain SELECT * FROM my_salaries WHERE YEAR(to_date)=2019\G.
******************************* 1. row ***********************
id: 1
select_type: SIMPLE
table: my_salaries
partitions: NULL
type: ALL
possible_keys: NULL
key: NULL
key_len: NULL
ref: NULL
rows: 2838426
filtered: 100.00
Extra: Using where

We have a full table scan ( type: ALL), that is, the index is not used. Perhaps because there is no index for the to_date column.
So, let’s add an index for to_date!

mysql> ALTER TABLE my_salaries ADD INDEX idx_to_date (to_date);
Query OK, 0 rows affected (17,13 sec)
Records: 0 Duplicates: 0 Warnings: 0

mysql> SHOW CREATE TABLE my_salaries\G
******************************* 1. row ***********************
Table: my_salaries
Create Table: CREATE TABLE `my_salaries` (
`sal_no` int(11) NOT NULL,
`salary` int(11) NOT NULL,
`from_date` date NOT NULL,
`to_date` date NOT NULL,
PRIMARY KEY (`sal_no`, `from_date`),
KEY `idx_to_date` (`to_date`),
CONSTRAINT `my_salaries_ibfk_1` FOREIGN KEY (`sal_no`) REFERENCES `employees` (`sal_no`) ON DELETE CASCADE
) ENGINE=InnoDB DEFAULT CHARSET=utf8mb4 COLLATE=utf8mb4_0900_ai_ci

And run the request again with the hope of a better execution plan

mysql> explain SELECT * FROM my_salaries WHERE YEAR(to_date)=2019\G.
******************************* 1. row ***********************
id: 1
select_type: SIMPLE
table: my_salaries
partitions: NULL
type: ALL
possible_keys: NULL
key: NULL
key_len: NULL
ref: NULL
rows: 2838426
filtered: 100.00
Extra: Using where

Oh! Still have a full table scan!
The index cannot be used because of the function (YEAR ()) in the indexed column (to_date).
By the way, if you are really surprised, maybe you should read this.

This is the case when you need a functional index!

mysql> ALTER TABLE my_salaries ADD INDEX idx_year_to_date((YEAR(to_date)));
Query OK, 0 rows affected (15,12 sec)
Records: 0 Duplicates: 0 Warnings: 0

The syntax is very similar to creating an “ordinary” index. Although you should know about double brackets: ((<expression>))
Now we can see our new index with the name idx_year_to_date and the year of the indexed expression (to_date) :

mysql> SHOW CREATE TABLE mysalaries\G
******************************* 1. row ***********************
Table: my_salaries
Create Table: CREATE TABLE `my_salaries` (
`sal_no` int(11) NOT NULL,
`salary` int(11) NOT NULL,
`from_date` date NOT NULL,
`to_date` date NOT NULL,
PRIMARY KEY (`sal_no`, `from_date`),
KEY `idx_to_date` (`to_date`),
KEY `idx_year_to_date` ((year(`to_date`))),
CONSTRAINT `my_salaries_ibfk_1` FOREIGN KEY (`sal_no`) REFERENCES `employees` (`sal_no`) ON DELETE CASCADE
) ENGINE=InnoDB DEFAULT CHARSET=utf8mb4 COLLATE=utf8mb4_0900_ai_ci

mysql> SELECT INDEX_NAME, EXPRESSION
FROM INFORMATION_SCHEMA.STATISTICS
WHERE TABLE_SCHEMA='employees'.
AND TABLE_NAME = "my_salaries"
AND INDEX_NAME='idx_year_to_date';
+------------------+-----------------+
| INDEX_NAME |
+------------------+-----------------+
| idx_year_to_date | year(`to_date`) |
+------------------+-----------------+

Let’s check our request one more time

mysql> explain SELECT * FROM my_salaries WHERE YEAR(to_date)=2019\G.
******************************* 1. row ***********************
id: 1
select_type: SIMPLE
table: my_salaries
partitions: NULL
type: ref
possible_keys: idx_year_to_date
key: idx_year_to_date
key_len: 5
ref: const
rows: 89
filtered: 100.00
Extra: NULL

mysql> SELECT * FROM my_salaries WHERE YEAR(to_date)=2019;
+--------+--------+------------+------------+
| sal_no | salary | from_date | to_date |
+--------+--------+------------+------------+
| 9564 | 45000 | 2019-07-27 | 2019-08-08 |
...snip...
| 9574 | 45000 | 2019-09-27 | 2019-09-28 |
+--------+--------+------------+------------+
89 rows in set (0.00 sec)

There you go!
Now the request can use an index. And in this case, we will have a positive impact on the execution time.

It is also interesting to note that we can use idx_to_date, the first index created (non-functional), if we can rewrite the original query:

mysql> EXPLAIN SELECT *
FROM my_salaries
WHERE to_date BETWEEN '2019-01-01' AND '2019-12-31'\G
******************************* 1. row ***********************
id: 1
select_type: SIMPLE
table: my_salaries
partitions: NULL
type: range
possible_keys: idx_to_date
key: idx_to_date
key_len: 3
ref: NULL
rows: 89
filtered: 100.00
Extra: Using index condition

mysql> SELECT *
FROM my_salaries
WHERE to_date BETWEEN '2019-01-01' AND '2019-12-31'
+--------+--------+------------+------------+
| sal_no | salary | from_date | to_date |
+--------+--------+------------+------------+
| 9564 | 40000 | 2019-02-27 | 2019-03-27 |
...snip...
| 9564 | 45000 | 2019-08-27 | 2019-12-27 |
+--------+--------+------------+------------+
89 rows in set (0.00 sec)

This keeps the index, I mean less indexes for the engine. In addition, if we talk about the cost of maintenance, the cost of maintaining a functional index is higher than the usual.

On the other hand, the execution plan is less good (request cost is higher), and obviously, you should rewrite the request.

REQUIREMENTS AND LIMITATIONS

The primary key cannot be a functional index:

mysql> CREATE TABLE t1 (i INT, PRIMARY KEY ((ABS(i)));
ERROR 3756 (HY000): The primary key cannot be a functional index.

You cannot index non-deterministic functions (RAND (), UNIX_TIMESTAMP (), NOW ()…).

mysql> CREATE TABLE t1 (i int, KEY ((RAND(i)));
ERROR 3758 (HY000): Expression of functional index 'functional_index' contains a disallowed function.

The SPATIAL and FULLTEXT indexes cannot have functional key parts.

CONCLUSION

Functional index is an interesting and relevant function that can be very useful for optimizing your requests without overwriting them, especially when working with JSON documents and other complex types.

Obviously, all the details you should know are in MySQL documentation: Functional key parts
If you are interested in high level architecture and low level design, please read the workload.

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We conduct reviews, guides and comparative tests of gaming laptops, monitors, graphics cards, keyboards, mouses, headsets and chairs to help you buy the best ga

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