Merger Engine

Result merger refers to merging multi-data result set acquired from all the data nodes as one result set and returning it to the request end rightly.

In function, the result merger supported by ShardingSphere can be divided into five kinds, iteration, order-by, group-by, pagination and aggregation, which are in composition relation rather than clash relation. In structure, it can be divided into stream merger, memory merger and decorator merger, among which, stream merger and memory merger clash with each other; decorator merger can be further processed based on stream merger and memory merger.

Since the result set is returned from database line by line instead of being loaded to the memory all at once, the most prior choice of merger method is to follow the database returned result set, for it is able to reduce the memory consumption to a large extend.

Stream merger means, each time, the data acquired from the result set is able to return the single piece of right data line by line.

It is the most suitable one for the method that the database returns original result set. Iteration, order-by, and stream group-by belong to stream merger.

Memory merger needs to iterate all the data in the result set and store it in the memory first. after unified grouping, ordering, aggregation and other computations, it will pack it into data result set, which is visited line by line, and return that result set.

Decorator merger merges and reinforces all the result sets function uniformly. Currently, decorator merger has pagination merger and aggregation merger these two kinds.

Iteration Merger

As the simplest merger method, iteration merger only requires the combination of multiple data result sets into a single-direction chain table. After iterating current data result sets in the chain table, it only needs to move the element of chain table to the next position and iterate the next data result set.

Order-by Merger

Because there is ORDER BY statement in SQL, each data result has its own order. So it is enough only to order data value that the result set cursor currently points to, which is equal to sequencing multiple already ordered arrays, and therefore, order-by merger is the most suitable ordering algorithm in this situation.

When merging order inquiries, ShardingSphere will compare current data values in each result set (which is realized by Java Comparable interface) and put them into the priority queue. Each time when acquiring the next piece of data, it only needs to move down the result set in the top end of the line, renter the priority order according to the new cursor and relocate its own position.

Here is an instance to explain ShardingSphere’s order-by merger. The following picture is an illustration of ordering by the score. Data result sets returned by 3 tables are shown in the example and each one of them has already been ordered according to the score, but there is no order between 3 data result sets. Order the data value that the result set cursor currently points to in these 3 result sets. Then put them into the priority queue. the data value of t_score_0 is the biggest, followed by that of t_score_2 and t_score_1 in sequence. Thus, the priority queue is ordered by the sequence of t_score_0, t_score_2 and t_score_1.

Order by merger example 1

This diagram illustrates how the order-by merger works when using next invocation. We can see from the diagram that when using next invocation, t_score_0 at the first of the queue will be popped out. After returning the data value currently pointed by the cursor (i.e., 100) to the client end, the cursor will be moved down and t_score_0 will be put back to the queue.

While the priority queue will also be ordered according to the t_score_0 data value (90 here) pointed by the cursor of current data result set. According to the current value, t_score_0 is at the last of the queue, and in the second place of the queue formerly, the data result set of t_score_2, automatically moves to the first place of the queue.

In the second next operation, t_score_2 in the first position is popped out of the queue. Its value pointed by the cursor of the data result set is returned to the client end, with its cursor moved down to rejoin the queue, and the following will be in the same way. If there is no data in the result set, it will not rejoin the queue.

Order by merger example 2

It can be seen that, under the circumstance that data in each result set is ordered while result sets are disordered, ShardingSphere does not need to upload all the data to the memory to order. In the order-by merger method, each next operation only acquires the right piece of data each time, which saves the memory consumption to a large extent.

On the other hand, the order-by merger has maintained the orderliness on horizontal axis and vertical axis of the data result set. Naturally ordered, vertical axis refers to each data result set itself, which is acquired by SQL with ORDER BY. Horizontal axis refers to the current value pointed by each data result set, and its order needs to be maintained by the priority queue.Each time when the current cursor moves down, it requires to put the result set in the priority order again, which means only the cursor of the first data result set can be moved down.

Group-by Merger

With the most complicated situation, group-by merger can be divided into stream group-by merger and memory group-by merger. Stream group-by merger requires SQL field and order item type (ASC or DESC) to be the same with group-by item. Otherwise, its data accuracy can only be maintained by memory merger.

For instance, if it is sharded by subject, table structure contains examinees’ name (to simplify, name repetition is not taken into consideration) and score. The SQL used to acquire each examinee’s total score is as follow:

SELECT name, SUM(score) FROM t_score GROUP BY name ORDER BY name;

When order-by item and group-by item are totally consistent, the data obtained is continuous. The data to group are all stored in the data value that data result set cursor currently points to, stream group-by merger can be used, as illustrated by the diagram:

Group by merger example 1

The merging logic is similar to that of order-by merger. The following picture shows how stream group-by merger works in next invocation.

Group by merger example 2

We can see from the picture, in the first next invocation, t_score_java in the first position, along with other result set data also having the grouping value of “Jerry”, will be popped out of the queue. After acquiring all the students’ scores with the name of “Jerry”, the accumulation operation will be proceeded. Hence, after the first next invocation is finished, the result set acquired is the sum of Jerry’s scores. In the same time, all the cursors in data result sets will be moved down to a different data value next to “Jerry” and rearranged according to current result set value. Thus, the data that contains the second name “John” will be put at the beginning of the queue.

Stream group-by merger is different from order-by merger only in two points:

  1. It will take out all the data with the same group item from multiple data result sets for once.
  2. It does the aggregation calculation according to aggregation function type.

For the inconsistency between the group item and the order item, it requires to upload all the data to the memory to group and aggregate, since the relevant data value needed to acquire group information is not continuous, and stream merger is not able to use. For example, acquire each examinee’s total score through the following SQL and order them from the highest to the lowest:

SELECT name, SUM(score) FROM t_score GROUP BY name ORDER BY score DESC;

Then, stream merger is not able to use, for the data taken out from each result set is the same as the original data of the diagram ordered by score in the upper half part structure.

When SQL only contains group-by statement, according to different database implementation, its sequencing order may not be the same as the group order. The lack of ordering statement indicates the order is not important in this SQL. Therefore, through SQL optimization re-write, ShardingSphere can automatically add the ordering item same as grouping item, converting it from the memory merger that consumes memory to stream merger.

Aggregation Merger

Whether stream group-by merger or memory group-by merger processes the aggregation function in the same way. Therefore, aggregation merger is an additional merging ability based on what have been introduced above, i.e., the decorator mode. The aggregation function can be categorized into three types, comparison, sum and average.

Comparison aggregation function refers to MAX and MIN. They need to compare all the result set data and return its maximum or minimum value directly.

Sum aggregation function refers to SUM and COUNT. They need to sum up all the result set data.

Average aggregation function refers only to AVG. It must be calculated through SUM and COUNT of SQL re-write, which has been mentioned in SQL re-write, so we will state no more here.

Pagination Merger

All the merger types above can be paginated. Pagination is the decorator added on other kinds of mergers. ShardingSphere augments its ability to paginate the data result set through the decorator mode. Pagination merger is responsible for filtering the data unnecessary to acquire.

ShardingSphere’s pagination function can be misleading to users in that they may think it will take a large amount of memory. In distributed scenarios, it can only guarantee the data accuracy by rewriting LIMIT 10000000, 10 to LIMIT 0, 10000010. Users can easily have the misconception that ShardingSphere uploads a large amount of meaningless data to the memory and has the risk of memory overflow. Actually, it can be known from the principle of stream merger, only memory group-by merger will upload all the data to the memory. Generally speaking, however, SQL used for OLAP grouping, is applied more frequently to massive calculation or small result generation rather than vast result data generation. Except for memory group-by merger, other cases use stream merger to acquire data result set. So ShardingSphere would skip unnecessary data through next method in result set, rather than storing them in the memory.

What’s to be noticed, pagination with LIMIT is not the best practice actually, because a large amount of data still needs to be transmitted to ShardingSphere’s memory space for ordering. LIMIT cannot search for data by index, so paginating with ID is a better solution on the premise that the ID continuity can be guaranteed. For example:

SELECT * FROM t_order WHERE id > 100000 AND id <= 100010 ORDER BY id;

Or search the next page through the ID of the last query result, for example:

SELECT * FROM t_order WHERE id > 10000000 LIMIT 10;

The overall structure of merger engine is shown in the following diagram:

Merge Architecture