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7.4.4. Multiple-Column Indexes

MySQL can create composite indexes (that is, indexes on multiple columns). An index may consist of up to 15 columns. For certain data types, you can index a prefix of the column (see Section 7.4.3, “Column Indexes”).

A multiple-column index can be considered a sorted array containing values that are created by concatenating the values of the indexed columns.

MySQL uses multiple-column indexes in such a way that queries are fast when you specify a known quantity for the first column of the index in a WHERE clause, even if you do not specify values for the other columns.

Suppose that a table has the following specification:

CREATE TABLE test (
    id INT NOT NULL,
    last_name CHAR(30) NOT NULL,
    first_name CHAR(30) NOT NULL,
    PRIMARY KEY (id),
    INDEX name (last_name,first_name)
);

The name index is an index over the last_name and first_name columns. The index can be used for queries that specify values in a known range for last_name, or for both last_name and first_name. Therefore, the name index is used in the following queries:

SELECT * FROM test WHERE last_name='Widenius';

SELECT * FROM test
  WHERE last_name='Widenius' AND first_name='Michael';

SELECT * FROM test
  WHERE last_name='Widenius'
  AND (first_name='Michael' OR first_name='Monty');

SELECT * FROM test
  WHERE last_name='Widenius'
  AND first_name >='M' AND first_name < 'N';

However, the name index is not used in the following queries:

SELECT * FROM test WHERE first_name='Michael';

SELECT * FROM test
  WHERE last_name='Widenius' OR first_name='Michael';

The manner in which MySQL uses indexes to improve query performance is discussed further in Section 7.4.5, “How MySQL Uses Indexes”.


 
 
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