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I have a PostgresSQL table, Prices, with the columns:

  • price (Decimal)
  • product_id (Int)

Prices get updated regularly and I keep old prices in the table. For a given product, the last price in the table is the current price.

What is the most efficient way to get the last price for a specific product:

  • Index product_id and query for the last record
  • Add a third column active (Boolean) to mark the latest price and create a composite index (product_id and active)
  • Or something else?
share|improve this question
Using a partial index with the condition where active would probably help even more to retrieve the latest product. – a_horse_with_no_name Feb 16 '14 at 7:59
Do you have a date/datetime/timestamp column? – ypercubeᵀᴹ Feb 16 '14 at 14:42
Yes, created_at and updated_at – Mike81 Feb 16 '14 at 22:21
up vote 4 down vote accepted

You'll need an index on product_id regardless of solution.

Provided you have an index on the updated_at column, and all you need is to fetch "a specific product" as you stated, then I would do:

select *
from Prices
where product_id = ?
order by updated_at desc 
limit 1

But if I did not get the results I wanted or if I needed to get the current price for many products, then I would try the option of adding a active column, and setting it to N for all prices other than the new one when doing updates of the prices and then I would create a partial index where active as suggested by a_horse_with_no_name. I would go there only if I needed to as it adds a layer of complexity of updating previous price rows to not be active, etc.

share|improve this answer

Without knowledge of the reste of your database, you can afford a bit of non normal form to speed up products price fetching (assuming there is one price for each item).

Just create a new column named last_priceof type price in your product table and create a trigger AFTER INSERT ON EACH ROWon your price table. Every time a new price is created, it updates the related product with the latest price. This way, everytime you fetch a product, you also fetch its last price.

share|improve this answer
This is not 'non formal' but a form of denormalization. Sometimes this is the only viable solution, but when one pushes it (I mean denormalizing by triggers) too far, it can be a maintenance and bugtracking nightmare. – dezso Feb 26 '14 at 15:57

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