ANALYZE collects statistics about the contents of tables in the database, and stores the results in the system table pg_statistic. Subsequently, the query planner uses these statistics to help determine the most efficient execution plans for queries.
With no parameter, ANALYZE examines every table in the current database. With a parameter, ANALYZE examines only that table. It is further possible to give a list of column names, in which case only the statistics for those columns are collected.
It is a good idea to run ANALYZE periodically, or just after making major changes in the contents of a table. Accurate statistics will help the planner to choose the most appropriate query plan, and thereby improve the speed of query processing. A common strategy is to run
and ANALYZE once a day during a low-usage time of day.
Unlike VACUUM FULL, ANALYZE requires only a read lock on the target table, so it can run in parallel with other activity on the table.
The statistics collected by ANALYZE usually include a list of some of the most common values in each column and a histogram showing the approximate data distribution in each column. One or both of these may be omitted if ANALYZE deems them uninteresting (for example, in a unique-key column, there are no common values) or if the column data type does not support the appropriate operators. There is more information about the statistics in Chapter 22.
For large tables, ANALYZE takes a random sample of the table contents, rather than examining every row. This allows even very large tables to be analyzed in a small amount of time. Note, however, that the statistics are only approximate, and will change slightly each time ANALYZE is run, even if the actual table contents did not change. This may result in small changes in the planner's estimated costs shown by EXPLAIN. In rare situations, this non-determinism will cause the query optimizer to choose a different query plan between runs of ANALYZE. To avoid this, raise the amount of statistics collected by ANALYZE, as described below.
The extent of analysis can be controlled by adjusting the default_statistics_target configuration variable, or on a column-by-column basis by setting the per-column statistics target with ALTER TABLE ... ALTER COLUMN ... SET STATISTICS (see
). The target value sets the maximum number of entries in the most-common-value list and the maximum number of bins in the histogram. The default target value is 10, but this can be adjusted up or down to trade off accuracy of planner estimates against the time taken for ANALYZE and the amount of space occupied in pg_statistic. In particular, setting the statistics target to zero disables collection of statistics for that column. It may be useful to do that for columns that are never used as part of the WHERE, GROUP BY, or ORDER BY clauses of queries, since the planner will have no use for statistics on such columns.
The largest statistics target among the columns being analyzed determines the number of table rows sampled to prepare the statistics. Increasing the target causes a proportional increase in the time and space needed to do ANALYZE.