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The Art of SQL by Peter Robson, Stephane Faroult

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Chapter 3. Tactical Dispositions

Indexing

 

Chi vuole fare tutte queste cose, conviene che tenga lo stile e modo romano: il quale fu in prima di fare le guerre, come dicano i Franciosi, corte e grosse.

Whoever wants to do all these things must hold to the Roman conduct and method, which was first to make the war, as the French say, short and sharp.

 
 --Niccolò Machiavelli (1469–1527) Discorsi sopra la prima Deca di Tito Livio, II, 6

Once the layout of the battlefield is determined, the general should be able to precisely identify which are the key parts of the enemy possessions that must be captured. It is exactly the same with information systems. The crucial data to be retrieved will determine the most efficient access paths into the data system. Here, the fundamental tactic is indexing. It is a complex area, and one in which competing priorities must be resolved. In this chapter, we discuss various aspects of indexes and indexing strategy, which, taken together, provide general guidelines for database access strategies.

The Identification of "Entry Points"

Even before starting to write the very first SQL statement in a program, you should have an idea about the search criteria that will be of importance to users. Values that are fed into a program and the size of the data subset defined lay the foundations for indexing. Indexes are, above all, a technique for achieving the fastest possible access to specific data. Note that I say "specific data," as indexes must be carefully deployed. ...

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