Bitmap Index Design Choices and Their Performance Implications

Elizabeth O'Neil, Patrick O'Neil and Kesheng Wu


Historically, bitmap indexing has provided an important database capability to accelerate queries. However, only a few database systems have implemented these indexes because of the difficulties of modifying fundamental assumptions in the low-level design of a database system and in the expectations of customers, both of which have developed in an environment that does not support bitmap indexes. Another problem that arises, and one that may more easily be addressed by a research article, is that there is no definitive design for bitmap indexes; bitmap index designs in Oracle, Sybase IQ, Vertica and MODEL 204 are idiosyncratic, and some of them were designed for older machine architectures.
To investigate an efficient design on modern processors, this paper provides details of the Set Query benchmark and a comparison of two research implementations of bitmap indexes. One, called RIDBit, uses the N-ary storage model to organize table rows, and implements a strategy that gracefully switches between the well-known B-tree RID-list structure and a bitmap structure. The other, called FastBit is based on vertical organization of the table data, where all columns are individually stored. It implements a compressed bitmap index, with a linear organization of the bitmaps to optimize disk accesses. Through this comparison, we evaluate the pros and cons of various design choices. Our analysis adds a number of subtleties to the conventional indexing wisdom commonly quoted in the database community.

Appeared In IDEAS 2007

Tech report LBNL-62756

a draft posted by Pat

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