MySQL Version: 5.7.18
Assuming that the field
category is not indexed and has duplicate values, the combination of
order by category and
limit will not work as expected.
Table structure (reproduce the problem, two fields are enough ~)
Sort all data by the
select * from ratings order by category ;
When we want to paginate the first 5 items use
select * from ratings order by category limit 5 ;
The expected order of
1 5 10 3 4.
But the actual result is as follows.
Maybe some friends have encountered this problem, through the search engine to solve a little, have you ever thought, you find the solution is the optimal solution? How did others arrive at this solution?
MySQL Why would they do this, is it related to the version?
First throw the conclusion.
- The optimal solution is to add a sort field with a unique column value after it, such as:
order by category,id
- Why does MySQL do this? The answer is for speed! (This optimization is available in
MySQL 5.6and later)
- The suboptimal solution is to index the
order by(why is it suboptimal?). You will have the answer after reading this article)
Finding the optimal solution
The scenario is described in the
MySQL documentation 188.8.131.52 LIMIT Query Optimization as follows.
If multiple rows have identical values in the
ORDER BYcolumns, the server is free to return those rows in any order, and may do so differently depending on the overall execution plan. In other words, the sort order of those rows is nondeterministic with respect to the nonordered columns.
One factor that affects the execution plan is
LIMIT, so an
ORDER BYquery with and without
LIMITmay return rows in different orders.
To summarize, when there are duplicate field values in the
ORDER BY column, the order of the data returned by the
ORDER BY statement will be different due to the presence of
This is the default
MySQL optimization for this scenario, but if you need to ensure that the order is consistent with or without
LIMIT, there is an official way to do this.
If it is important to ensure the same row order with and without
LIMIT, include additional columns in the
ORDER BYclause to make the order deterministic.
This is where an additional sort field (such as an
ID field) is added after
The above description first appeared in the
MySQL 5.6 documentation, and this optimization for
ORDER BY LIMIT has been introduced since this version.
Well, for the scenario in the article, we just need
select * from ratings order by category,id; to solve it.
So the question is, why did
MySQL make such a seemingly
MySQL’s ORDER BY Logic
ORDER BY is the sort.
explain select * from ratings order by category limit 5 ;
You can see that
Extra: Using filesort indicates that sorting is required.
Under normal circumstances,
MySQL will have both in-memory and external sorting.
If the amount of data to be sorted is less than the
sort buffer size, the sort is done in memory (
If the amount of data to be sorted is larger than the
sort buffer size, the sort is done externally using a temporary file (
Obviously, these two kinds of sorting are to sort all the results, and reasonably, regardless of whether there is
LIMIT or not, the number of items needed is taken from the sorted results in order, and whether there is
LIMIT or not will not affect the order of the returned results.
MySQL 5.6 has a small optimization for
ORDER BY LIMIT (when the sorted field is not indexed and the column value is not unique): the optimizer uses
priority queue when it encounters an
ORDER BY LIMIT statement.
The optimization is described by the following pseudo-code in
The optimization logic is described in WL#1393: Optimizing filesort with small limit:
The result of the optimization is documented in the
10 to 20 times faster than a quicksort (for those interested, go read the original article).
So, it’s all about speed!
MySQL thinks this scenario is a
TOP N problem, which can be solved by using
priority queue is actually a heap,
java.util.PriorityQueue class, the essence of which is
heap this data structure.
A brief explanation of what a heap is.
A heap is a complete binary tree.
Each node in the heap must have a value greater than or equal to (big top heap) or less than or equal to (little top heap) the value of each node in its subtree.
MySQL uses merge or fast-ranking, you need to sort all the data and then take the first few entries of
LIMIT, and the remaining sorted data will be wasted.
If you use
priority queue, you can maintain a heap based on the number of
LIMIT items, and you only need to go through all the data in this heap to get the result.
You can verify that
MySQL is using
priority queue by using the following statement.
You can see that
filesort_priority_queue_optimization.chosen = true.
Here is a flowchart to restore the execution logic of the
priority queue (using
LIMIT 5 as an example):
tip: the small top heap in the diagram is sorted by the size of the
Take the first five data items to form a small top stack.
Take the next row of data (6,2) and find that 2 is smaller than the largest
category3 in the current heap, so delete (2,3) from the heap and add (6,2) to the heap.
Repeat step 2 until all the data that meet the query criteria have been compared into the heap, and the final data in the heap is as shown in the figure.
The above is the process of finding the smallest 5 rows of
category data by
Finally, we can get the result by taking it out of the heap and putting the last element into the top of the heap each time after the smallest element is taken out, and re-stacking it according to the small top heap.
As you can see, this result is consistent with the output of
select * from ratings order by category limit 5;
Why indexing is a suboptimal solution
Obviously, according to the logic of
ORDER BY, adding indexes to sorted fields directly can also eliminate the in-memory sorting step, thus solving the problem.
But indexing is not a silver bullet, and the extra
category index will increase the maintenance cost of the table. If there is no obvious business need to add indexes simply to bypass the optimization of this
priority queue, it is not worth the loss.
Especially when the table data volume is very large, the volume of indexes can be substantial. Moreover, for the scenario in the article,
category as a category field, the duplication rate will be relatively high, even if there is a business
SQL query by category,
MySQL will not necessarily pick this index.
To sum up, I think
order by category,id is the optimal solution for this scenario.