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8.3.4 Column Indexes

The most common type of index involves a single column, storing copies of the values from that column in a data structure, allowing fast lookups for the rows with the corresponding column values. The B-tree data structure lets the index quickly find a specific value, a set of values, or a range of values, corresponding to operators such as =, >, , BETWEEN, IN, and so on, in a WHERE clause.

The maximum number of indexes per table and the maximum index length is defined per storage engine. See Chapter 15, Alternative Storage Engines. All storage engines support at least 16 indexes per table and a total index length of at least 256 bytes. Most storage engines have higher limits.

Prefix Indexes

With col_name(N) syntax in an index specification, you can create an index that uses only the first N characters of a string column. Indexing only a prefix of column values in this way can make the index file much smaller. When you index a BLOB or TEXT column, you must specify a prefix length for the index. For example:

CREATE TABLE test (blob_col BLOB, INDEX(blob_col(10)));

Prefixes can be up to 1000 bytes long (767 bytes for InnoDB tables, unless you have innodb_large_prefix set).


Prefix limits are measured in bytes, while the prefix length in CREATE TABLE statements is interpreted as number of characters. Take this into account when specifying a prefix length for a column that uses a multibyte character set.


You can also create FULLTEXT indexes. These are used for full-text searches. Only the InnoDB and MyISAM storage engines support FULLTEXT indexes and only for CHAR, VARCHAR, and TEXT columns. Indexing always takes place over the entire column and column prefix indexing is not supported. For details, see Section 12.9, “Full-Text Search Functions”.

Optimizations are applied to certain kinds of FULLTEXT queries against single InnoDB tables. Queries with these characteristics are particularly efficient:

  • FULLTEXT queries that only return the document ID, or the document ID and the search rank.

  • FULLTEXT queries that sort the matching rows in descending order of score and apply a LIMIT clause to take the top N matching rows. For this optimization to apply, there must be no WHERE clauses and only a single ORDER BY clause in descending order.

  • FULLTEXT queries that retrieve only the COUNT(*) value of rows matching a search term, with no additional WHERE clauses. Code the WHERE clause as WHERE MATCH(text) AGAINST ('other_text'), without any > 0 comparison operator.

Spatial Indexes

You can also create indexes on spatial data types. MyISAM and (as of MySQL 5.7.5) InnoDB support R-tree indexes on spatial types. Other storage engines use B-trees for indexing spatial types (except for ARCHIVE, which does not support spatial type indexing).

Indexes in the MEMORY Storage Engine

The MEMORY storage engine uses HASH indexes by default, but also supports BTREE indexes.

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