Wow for contrib/intarray

In my ongoing quest to migrate some stuff from MSSQL to PostgreSQL, I've done my first implementation using contrib/intarray. And all I can say in this case is wow. It took some query times from 3+ seconds down to 0.4 milliseconds!! (Granted, that is on a faster machine as well - but not that much faster. And no longer dedicated. And the new machine actually has less memory than the old one).

Now, the old design was pretty darn bad. It basically had a varchar field that held a lot of numbers in the format "4,6,7,9,15". The objective was to find which rows contained say the number 9. The only way to do that in MSSQL is, AFAIK, to do a WHERE field LIKE '%259,%25', which is obviously dead slow.

For PostgreSQL, with the data stored in an intarray instead, the query is WHERE field @ '{9}'. You can even create a GIST index on it, for even faster lookups. And it's even more correct (the previous one will fail if the list has for example 19 in it. It had to be special-cased every time).

Finally, it makes it a lot easier to match for multiple values. Such as WHERE field @ '{9,14}'. For every step, the MSSQL solution just gets uglier and uglier, whereas PostgreSQL is nice and beautiful :-)

So. Arrays can be a bit of a hurdle to get into, and it will tie you down to PostgreSQL, but if you're doing something that deals with arrays or lists of integer, you should definitly check out contrib/intarray. Once again, a great job by Oleg and Teodor.


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I speak at and organize conferences around Open Source in general and PostgreSQL in particular.

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