19.4 Partition Pruning

This section discusses an optimization known as partition pruning. The core concept behind partition pruning is relatively simple, and can be described as Do not scan partitions where there can be no matching values. Suppose that you have a partitioned table t1 defined by this statement:

CREATE TABLE t1 (
    fname VARCHAR(50) NOT NULL,
    lname VARCHAR(50) NOT NULL,
    region_code TINYINT UNSIGNED NOT NULL,
    dob DATE NOT NULL
)
PARTITION BY RANGE( region_code ) (
    PARTITION p0 VALUES LESS THAN (64),
    PARTITION p1 VALUES LESS THAN (128),
    PARTITION p2 VALUES LESS THAN (192),
    PARTITION p3 VALUES LESS THAN MAXVALUE
);

Consider the case where you wish to obtain results from a SELECT statement such as this one:

SELECT fname, lname, region_code, dob
    FROM t1
    WHERE region_code > 125 AND region_code < 130;

It is easy to see that none of the rows which ought to be returned will be in either of the partitions p0 or p3; that is, we need to search only in partitions p1 and p2 to find matching rows. By doing so, it is possible to expend much less time and effort in finding matching rows than would be required to scan all partitions in the table. This cutting away of unneeded partitions is known as pruning. When the optimizer can make use of partition pruning in performing this query, execution of the query can be an order of magnitude faster than the same query against a nonpartitioned table containing the same column definitions and data.

The optimizer can perform pruning whenever a WHERE condition can be reduced to either one of the following two cases:

In the first case, the optimizer simply evaluates the partitioning expression for the value given, determines which partition contains that value, and scans only this partition. In many cases, the equal sign can be replaced with another arithmetic comparison, including <, >, <=, >=, and <>. Some queries using BETWEEN in the WHERE clause can also take advantage of partition pruning. See the examples later in this section.

In the second case, the optimizer evaluates the partitioning expression for each value in the list, creates a list of matching partitions, and then scans only the partitions in this partition list.

MySQL can apply partition pruning to SELECT, DELETE, and UPDATE statements. INSERT statements currently cannot be pruned.

Pruning can also be applied to short ranges, which the optimizer can convert into equivalent lists of values. For instance, in the previous example, the WHERE clause can be converted to WHERE region_code IN (126, 127, 128, 129). Then the optimizer can determine that the first three values in the list are found in partition p1, the remaining three values in partition p2, and that the other partitions contain no relevant values and so do not need to be searched for matching rows.

In MySQL 5.6, the optimizer can also perform pruning for WHERE conditions that involve comparisons of the preceding types on multiple columns for tables that use RANGE COLUMNS or LIST COLUMNS partitioning.

This type of optimization can be applied whenever the partitioning expression consists of an equality or a range which can be reduced to a set of equalities, or when the partitioning expression represents an increasing or decreasing relationship. Pruning can also be applied for tables partitioned on a DATE or DATETIME column when the partitioning expression uses the YEAR() or TO_DAYS() function. In addition, in MySQL 5.6, pruning can be applied for such tables when the partitioning expression uses the TO_SECONDS() function.

Suppose that table t2, defined as shown here, is partitioned on a DATE column:

CREATE TABLE t2 (
    fname VARCHAR(50) NOT NULL,
    lname VARCHAR(50) NOT NULL,
    region_code TINYINT UNSIGNED NOT NULL,
    dob DATE NOT NULL
)
PARTITION BY RANGE( YEAR(dob) ) (
    PARTITION d0 VALUES LESS THAN (1970),
    PARTITION d1 VALUES LESS THAN (1975),
    PARTITION d2 VALUES LESS THAN (1980),
    PARTITION d3 VALUES LESS THAN (1985),
    PARTITION d4 VALUES LESS THAN (1990),
    PARTITION d5 VALUES LESS THAN (2000),
    PARTITION d6 VALUES LESS THAN (2005),
    PARTITION d7 VALUES LESS THAN MAXVALUE
);

The following statements using t2 can make of use partition pruning:

SELECT * FROM t2 WHERE dob = '1982-06-23';

UPDATE t2 SET region_code = 8 WHERE dob BETWEEN '1991-02-15' AND '1997-04-25';

DELETE FROM t2 WHERE dob >= '1984-06-21' AND dob <= '1999-06-21'

In the case of the last statement, the optimizer can also act as follows:

  1. Find the partition containing the low end of the range.

    YEAR('1984-06-21') yields the value 1984, which is found in partition d3.

  2. Find the partition containing the high end of the range.

    YEAR('1999-06-21') evaluates to 1999, which is found in partition d5.

  3. Scan only these two partitions and any partitions that may lie between them.

    In this case, this means that only partitions d3, d4, and d5 are scanned. The remaining partitions may be safely ignored (and are ignored).

Important

Invalid DATE and DATETIME values referenced in the WHERE condition of a statement against a partitioned table are treated as NULL. This means that a query such as SELECT * FROM partitioned_table WHERE date_column < '2008-12-00' does not return any values (see Bug #40972).

So far, we have looked only at examples using RANGE partitioning, but pruning can be applied with other partitioning types as well.

Consider a table that is partitioned by LIST, where the partitioning expression is increasing or decreasing, such as the table t3 shown here. (In this example, we assume for the sake of brevity that the region_code column is limited to values between 1 and 10 inclusive.)

CREATE TABLE t3 (
    fname VARCHAR(50) NOT NULL,
    lname VARCHAR(50) NOT NULL,
    region_code TINYINT UNSIGNED NOT NULL,
    dob DATE NOT NULL
)
PARTITION BY LIST(region_code) (
    PARTITION r0 VALUES IN (1, 3),
    PARTITION r1 VALUES IN (2, 5, 8),
    PARTITION r2 VALUES IN (4, 9),
    PARTITION r3 VALUES IN (6, 7, 10)
);

For a statement such as SELECT * FROM t3 WHERE region_code BETWEEN 1 AND 3, the optimizer determines in which partitions the values 1, 2, and 3 are found (r0 and r1) and skips the remaining ones (r2 and r3).

For tables that are partitioned by HASH or [LINEAR] KEY, partition pruning is also possible in cases in which the WHERE clause uses a simple = relation against a column used in the partitioning expression. Consider a table created like this:

CREATE TABLE t4 (
    fname VARCHAR(50) NOT NULL,
    lname VARCHAR(50) NOT NULL,
    region_code TINYINT UNSIGNED NOT NULL,
    dob DATE NOT NULL
)
PARTITION BY KEY(region_code)
PARTITIONS 8;

A statement that compares a column value with a constant can be pruned:

UPDATE t4 WHERE region_code = 7;

Pruning can also be employed for short ranges, because the optimizer can turn such conditions into IN relations. For example, using the same table t4 as defined previously, queries such as these can be pruned:

SELECT * FROM t4 WHERE region_code > 2 AND region_code < 6;

SELECT * FROM t4 WHERE region_code BETWEEN 3 AND 5;

In both these cases, the WHERE clause is transformed by the optimizer into WHERE region_code IN (3, 4, 5).

Important

This optimization is used only if the range size is smaller than the number of partitions. Consider this statement:

DELETE FROM t4 WHERE region_code BETWEEN 4 AND 12;

The range in the WHERE clause covers 9 values (4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12), but t4 has only 8 partitions. This means that the DELETE cannot be pruned.

When a table is partitioned by HASH or [LINEAR] KEY, pruning can be used only on integer columns. For example, this statement cannot use pruning because dob is a DATE column:

SELECT * FROM t4 WHERE dob >= '2001-04-14' AND dob <= '2005-10-15';

However, if the table stores year values in an INT column, then a query having WHERE year_col >= 2001 AND year_col <= 2005 can be pruned.

In MySQL 5.6.8 and later, partition pruning is disabled for all tables using a storage engine that provides automatic partitioning, such as the NDB storage engine used by MySQL Cluster (not currently supported in MySQL 5.6). (Bug #14672885) Beginning with MySQL 5.6.10, such tables can be pruned if they are explicitly partitioned. (Bug #14827952)