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Merge Join vs Hash Join in Postgres

Andrei Lepikhov compares two physical join operators:

Today’s post is sparked by a puzzling observation: users, especially those who use an abstraction layer like REST or ORM library to interact with databases, frequently disable the MergeJoin option across the entire database instance. They justify this action by citing numerous instances of performance degradation.

Considering how many interesting execution paths MergeJoin adds to the system elaborating IncrementalSort or sort orderings derived from underlying IndexScan, it looks strange: one more bug of skewed cost balance inside the PostgreSQL cost model?

This is an interesting peek into how complex the query optimizers in database engines are, as well as how small amounts of information (via statistics or indexes) can matter to a query.

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