In an index scan, the index access method is responsible for regurgitating the TIDs of all the tuples it has been told about that match the scan keys. The access method is not involved in actually fetching those tuples from the index's parent table, nor in determining whether they pass the scan's time qualification test or other conditions.
A scan key is the internal representation of a WHERE clause of the form index_key operator constant, where the index key is one of the columns of the index and the operator is one of the members of the operator family associated with that index column. An index scan has zero or more scan keys, which are implicitly ANDed — the returned tuples are expected to satisfy all the indicated conditions.
The access method can report that the index is lossy, or requires rechecks, for a particular query. This implies that the index scan will return all the entries that pass the scan key, plus possibly additional entries that do not. The core system's index-scan machinery will then apply the index conditions again to the heap tuple to verify whether or not it really should be selected. If the recheck option is not specified, the index scan must return exactly the set of matching entries.
Note that it is entirely up to the access method to ensure that it
correctly finds all and only the entries passing all the given scan keys.
Also, the core system will simply hand off all the WHERE
clauses that match the index keys and operator families, without any
semantic analysis to determine whether they are redundant or
contradictory. As an example, given
WHERE x > 4 AND x > 14 where x is a b-tree
indexed column, it is left to the b-tree
to realize that the first scan key is redundant and can be discarded.
The extent of preprocessing needed during
depend on the extent to which the index access method needs to reduce
the scan keys to a "normalized" form.
Some access methods return index entries in a well-defined order, others do not. If entries are returned in sorted order, the access method should set pg_am.amcanorder true to indicate that it supports ordered scans. All such access methods must use btree-compatible strategy numbers for their equality and ordering operators.
amgettuple function has a direction argument,
which can be either ForwardScanDirection (the normal case)
or BackwardScanDirection. If the first call after
amrescan specifies BackwardScanDirection, then the
set of matching index entries is to be scanned back-to-front rather than in
the normal front-to-back direction, so
amgettuple must return
the last matching tuple in the index, rather than the first one as it
normally would. (This will only occur for access
methods that advertise they support ordered scans.) After the
amgettuple must be prepared to advance the scan in
either direction from the most recently returned entry. (But if
pg_am.amcanbackward is false, all subsequent
calls will have the same direction as the first one.)
Access methods that support ordered scans must support "marking" a
position in a scan and later returning to the marked position. The same
position might be restored multiple times. However, only one position need
be remembered per scan; a new
ammarkpos call overrides the
previously marked position. An access method that does not support
ordered scans should still provide mark and restore functions in
pg_am, but it is sufficient to have them throw errors if
Both the scan position and the mark position (if any) must be maintained consistently in the face of concurrent insertions or deletions in the index. It is OK if a freshly-inserted entry is not returned by a scan that would have found the entry if it had existed when the scan started, or for the scan to return such an entry upon rescanning or backing up even though it had not been returned the first time through. Similarly, a concurrent delete might or might not be reflected in the results of a scan. What is important is that insertions or deletions not cause the scan to miss or multiply return entries that were not themselves being inserted or deleted.
Instead of using
amgettuple, an index scan can be done with
amgetbitmap to fetch all tuples in one call. This can be
noticeably more efficient than
amgettuple because it allows
avoiding lock/unlock cycles within the access method. In principle
amgetbitmap should have the same effects as repeated
amgettuple calls, but we impose several restrictions to
simplify matters. First of all,
amgetbitmap returns all
tuples at once and marking or restoring scan positions isn't
supported. Secondly, the tuples are returned in a bitmap which doesn't
have any specific ordering, which is why
take a direction argument. Finally,
does not guarantee any locking of the returned tuples, with implications
spelled out in Section 51.4.
Note that it is permitted for an access method to implement only
amgetbitmap and not
amgettuple, or vice versa,
if its internal implementation is unsuited to one API or the other.