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15.7.2.3 Consistent Nonlocking Reads

A consistent read means that InnoDB uses multi-versioning to present to a query a snapshot of the database at a point in time. The query sees the changes made by transactions that committed before that point of time, and no changes made by later or uncommitted transactions. The exception to this rule is that the query sees the changes made by earlier statements within the same transaction. This exception causes the following anomaly: If you update some rows in a table, a SELECT sees the latest version of the updated rows, but it might also see older versions of any rows. If other sessions simultaneously update the same table, the anomaly means that you might see the table in a state that never existed in the database.

If the transaction isolation level is REPEATABLE READ (the default level), all consistent reads within the same transaction read the snapshot established by the first such read in that transaction. You can get a fresher snapshot for your queries by committing the current transaction and after that issuing new queries.

With READ COMMITTED isolation level, each consistent read within a transaction sets and reads its own fresh snapshot.

Consistent read is the default mode in which InnoDB processes SELECT statements in READ COMMITTED and REPEATABLE READ isolation levels. A consistent read does not set any locks on the tables it accesses, and therefore other sessions are free to modify those tables at the same time a consistent read is being performed on the table.

Suppose that you are running in the default REPEATABLE READ isolation level. When you issue a consistent read (that is, an ordinary SELECT statement), InnoDB gives your transaction a timepoint according to which your query sees the database. If another transaction deletes a row and commits after your timepoint was assigned, you do not see the row as having been deleted. Inserts and updates are treated similarly.

Note

The snapshot of the database state applies to SELECT statements within a transaction, not necessarily to DML statements. If you insert or modify some rows and then commit that transaction, a DELETE or UPDATE statement issued from another concurrent REPEATABLE READ transaction could affect those just-committed rows, even though the session could not query them. If a transaction does update or delete rows committed by a different transaction, those changes do become visible to the current transaction. For example, you might encounter a situation like the following:

SELECT COUNT(c1) FROM t1 WHERE c1 = 'xyz';
-- Returns 0: no rows match.
DELETE FROM t1 WHERE c1 = 'xyz';
-- Deletes several rows recently committed by other transaction.

SELECT COUNT(c2) FROM t1 WHERE c2 = 'abc';
-- Returns 0: no rows match.
UPDATE t1 SET c2 = 'cba' WHERE c2 = 'abc';
-- Affects 10 rows: another txn just committed 10 rows with 'abc' values.
SELECT COUNT(c2) FROM t1 WHERE c2 = 'cba';
-- Returns 10: this txn can now see the rows it just updated.

You can advance your timepoint by committing your transaction and then doing another SELECT or START TRANSACTION WITH CONSISTENT SNAPSHOT.

This is called multi-versioned concurrency control.

In the following example, session A sees the row inserted by B only when B has committed the insert and A has committed as well, so that the timepoint is advanced past the commit of B.

             Session A              Session B

           SET autocommit=0;      SET autocommit=0;
time
|          SELECT * FROM t;
|          empty set
|                                 INSERT INTO t VALUES (1, 2);
|
v          SELECT * FROM t;
           empty set
                                  COMMIT;

           SELECT * FROM t;
           empty set

           COMMIT;

           SELECT * FROM t;
           ---------------------
           |    1    |    2    |
           ---------------------

If you want to see the freshest state of the database, use either the READ COMMITTED isolation level or a locking read:

SELECT * FROM t FOR SHARE;

With READ COMMITTED isolation level, each consistent read within a transaction sets and reads its own fresh snapshot. With FOR SHARE, a locking read occurs instead: A SELECT blocks until the transaction containing the freshest rows ends (see Section 15.7.2.4, “Locking Reads”).

Consistent read does not work over certain DDL statements:

  • Consistent read does not work over DROP TABLE, because MySQL cannot use a table that has been dropped and InnoDB destroys the table.

  • Consistent read does not work over ALTER TABLE, because that statement makes a temporary copy of the original table and deletes the original table when the temporary copy is built. When you reissue a consistent read within a transaction, rows in the new table are not visible because those rows did not exist when the transaction's snapshot was taken. In this case, the transaction returns an error: ER_TABLE_DEF_CHANGED, Table definition has changed, please retry transaction.

The type of read varies for selects in clauses like INSERT INTO ... SELECT, UPDATE ... (SELECT), and CREATE TABLE ... SELECT that do not specify FOR UPDATE or FOR SHARE:

  • By default, InnoDB uses stronger locks and the SELECT part acts like READ COMMITTED, where each consistent read, even within the same transaction, sets and reads its own fresh snapshot.

  • To use a consistent read in such cases, set the isolation level of the transaction to READ UNCOMMITTED, READ COMMITTED, or REPEATABLE READ (that is, anything other than SERIALIZABLE). In this case, no locks are set on rows read from the selected table.


User Comments
User comments in this section are, as the name implies, provided by MySQL users. The MySQL documentation team is not responsible for, nor do they endorse, any of the information provided here.
  Posted by Pradeep Gupta on October 10, 2012
When we are selecting from any table from 1 session then we cant alter that table from another session.

Session A :

mysql> select * from person_test where id=1;
+----+-------------+
| id | name |
+----+-------------+
| 1 | Antonio Paz |
+----+-------------+
1 row in set (0.00 sec)

Session B :

mysql> alter table person_test add (city char(20));
Ctrl-C -- sending "KILL QUERY 4" to server ...
Ctrl-C -- query aborted.
ERROR 1317 (70100): Query execution was interrupted

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