Monday, November 5, 2007


Indexes help us retrieve data from tables quicker. Let's use an example to illustrate this point: Say we are interested in reading about how to grow peppers in a gardening book. Instead of reading the book from the beginning until we find a section on peppers, it is much quicker for us to go to the index section at the end of the book, locate which pages contain information on peppers, and then go to these pages directly. Going to the index first saves us time and is by far a more efficient method for locating the information we need.

The same principle applies for retrieving data from a database table. Without an index, the database system reads through the entire table (this process is called a 'table scan') to locate the desired information. With the proper index in place, the database system can then first go through the index to find out where to retrieve the data, and then go to these locations directly to get the needed data. This is much faster.

Therefore, it is often desirable to create indexes on tables. An index can cover one or more columns. The general syntax for creating an index is:


Let's assume that we have the following table,

TABLE Customer
(First_Name char(50),
Last_Name char(50),
Address char(50),
City char(50),
Country char(25),
Birth_Date date)

and we want to create an index on the column Last_Name, we would type in,

on CUSTOMER (Last_Name)

If we want to create an index on both City and Country, we would type in,

on CUSTOMER (City, Country)

There is no strict rule on how to name an index. The generally accepted method is to place a prefix, such as "IDX_", before an index name to avoid confusion with other database objects. It is also a good idea to provide information on which table and column(s) the index is used on.

Please note that the exact syntax for CREATE INDEX may be different for different databases. You should consult with your database reference manual for the precise syntax.

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