Q1 a) I will use bytea instead of text.

Q1 b) I didn't intend to imply that my state value struct would contain
pointers but thanks for reminding me that I should initialize any temporary
pointers into the memory area using offsets.

Q2 a) If I understand you correctly the use of static or global variables is
generally a bad idea and there are cases where it could produce incorrect
results.

Q2 b) You seem to imply that, since the backend doesn't use threads,
simultaneous single evaluations of my aggregate by different
users/connections would not be a problem for the static or global variables.
If 200 users want to evaluate my aggregate at the same time how does the
backend service them? I'm only asking this out of curiosity so I won't be
too disappointed if you don't reply (because the answer is too long and
complicated, etc.).

Thanks for your reply,
Don Walker

-----Original Message-----
From: Tom Lane
Sent: September 14, 2007 13:21
To: Don Walker
Cc: pgsql-hackers@postgresql.org
Subject: Re: [HACKERS] Use of global and static variables in shared
libraries


"Don Walker" <don.walker@versaterm.com> writes:
Since my state is fairly complex I intend to make my state value type text
to give myself a block of memory in which I can manage the various pointers
I need. I realize that I will need to be careful about alignment issues and
intend to store the state as a large struct in the data area of the text.
Q1 Is this approach for the state variable reasonable?
Not very. In the first place, it's a horrid idea to put non-textual
data into a text datum. This is not invisible-to-the-user stuff, they
can easily see it by calling your transition function directly.
bytea might be a better choice for holding random data. In the second
place, your reference to pointers scares me. You cannot assume that the
nodeAgg code won't copy the transition value from one place to another,
so internal pointers aren't going to work. Can you use offsets instead?
The existing C code that I've inherited makes heavy use of static and global
variables. I immediately assumed that for thread safety I'd need to roll any
of these variables that need to survive a function call into the state
variable struct and change any that were just for convenience instead of
parameters into parameters to my internal functions.
There are no threads in the backend. What you *do* need to worry about
is parallel evaluation of multiple instances of your aggregate, for
instance "select myagg(x), myagg(y) from table". Another tricky problem
is reinitialization if a query fails partway through and so you never
get as far as running your finalization function. It's certainly
easiest if you can keep all your state in the transition datum. People
have been known to cheat, though.

regards, tom lane

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