6.1 Historical Note

"Statement transaction" is a non-standard term that comes from the days when MySQL supported the BerkeleyDB storage engine.

First, observe that in BerkeleyDB the "auto-commit" mode causes automatic commit of operations that are atomic from the storage engine's perspective, such as a write of a record, but are too fine-grained to be atomic from the application's (MySQL's) perspective. One SQL statement could involve many BerkeleyDB auto-committed operations. So BerkeleyDB auto-commit was of little use to MySQL.

Second, observe that BerkeleyDB provided the concept of "nested transactions" instead of SQL standard savepoints. In a nutshell: transactions could be arbitrarily nested, but when the parent transaction was committed or aborted, all its child (nested) transactions were committed or aborted as well. Commit of a nested transaction, in turn, made its changes visible, but not durable: it destroyed the nested transaction, so all the nested transaction's changes would become visible to the parent and to other currently active nested transactions of the same parent.

So MySQL employed the mechanism of nested transactions to provide the "all or nothing" guarantee for SQL statements that the standard requires. MySQL would create a nested transaction at the start of each SQL statement, and destroy (commit or abort) the nested transaction at statement end. MySQL people internally called such a nested transaction a "statement transaction". And that's what gave birth to the term "statement transaction".