Derived Tables and Views Performance

Starting MySQL 4.1, MySQL had support for what is called derived tables, inline views or basically subselects in the from clause.
In MySQL 5.0 support for views was added.

These features are quite related to each other but how do they compare in terms of performance ?

Derived Tables in MySQL 5.0 seems to have different implementation from views, even though I would expect code base to be merged as it is quite the same task in terms of query optimization.

Derived Tables are still handled by materializing them in the temporary table, furthermore temporary table with no indexes (so you really do not want to join two derived tables for example).

One more thing to watch for is the fact derived table is going to be materialized even to execute EXPLAIN statement. So if you have done mistake in select in from clause, ie forgotten join condition you might have EXPLAIN running forever.

Views on other hand do not have to be materialized and normally executed by rewriting the query. It only will be materialized if query merge is impossible or if requested by view creator.

What does it mean in terms of performance:

So what does it mean in practice:

Avoid derived tables – If there is other way to write the query it will be faster in most cases. In many cases even separate temporary table will be faster as you can add proper indexes to the table in this case.

Consider using temporary views instead of derived tables If you really need to use subselect in from clause consider creating view using it in the query and dropping it after query was executed.

In any case it is pretty annoying gotcha which I hope MySQL will fix in next MySQL versions – the fact queries in this example behave differently is illogical and counter intuitive.

Share this post

Comments (19)

  • pabloj

    Well probably v 5.2 will be used to make all the new features stable and well integrated 😉

    August 31, 2006 at 8:37 am
  • Raven

    Based on your EXPLAIN output, it looks like Views inherit indices from the underlying tables (which would explain the speed difference). Probably the execution of the subselect is faster/less of a memory hog than creating the view, so I can see that you might want the two options to maximize performance in specific situations.

    Do you get similar results in less contrived (more realistic) scenarios?

    August 31, 2006 at 5:51 pm
  • peter

    I would not call it Views Inherit indexes because views are not physical – they have no real data or indexes, they however describe a way to access data.

    The difference is not inheriting indexes but as I wrote different method of execution – Views are executed (in this case) by query rewriting, so effectively query becomes same as on base table. Inline views/derived tables however can’t do it they always have to materialize table.

    Creating view you can also force it to use TEMPTABLE for query execution. See

    Regarding behavior in real cases – this is simplification based on real production cases.

    Note: It applies to subselects in FROM clause only. Other kind of subselects is very different story.

    September 1, 2006 at 1:47 am
  • Martijn Tonies

    I wonder what happens if you use a view that cannot be easily rewritten.

    eg: GROUP BY or have a SUM in it.

    Now, do a “select * from view where summed_column = 50” or something.

    Will this be re-written? And if so, what IS the final result of the re-written query?

    Besides, why DO derived tables get materialized anyway? The optimizer is free to re-write queries including these as well, right?

    Martijn Tonies
    Upscene Productions

    September 1, 2006 at 11:26 am
  • peter


    First – you’re right. There is no reason for derived tables to be materialized. It is design deficiency in MySQL 5.0.

    Speaking about Views with group by – good question. MySQL is currently able to execute via query merge only simple views, more complicated views as ones with group by require temporary table even if it is possible to avoid it. Hopefully it will be improved in the future:

    mysql> create view v1 as select count(*) cnt, k from test group by k;
    Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.03 sec)

    mysql> explain select * from v2 where k=7 limit 5;
    | id | select_type | table | type | possible_keys | key | key_len | ref | rows | Extra |
    | 1 | PRIMARY | | ALL | NULL | NULL | NULL | NULL | 1638400 | Using where |
    | 2 | DERIVED | test | index | NULL | k | 772 | NULL | 1638400 | Using index |
    2 rows in set (6.88 sec)

    As you see full temporary table is used, there is index on k but it only allows to do index scan instead of full table scan.

    September 1, 2006 at 1:14 pm
  • Martijn Tonies

    Interesting, thanks for trying.

    Martijn Tonies
    Upscene Productions

    September 4, 2006 at 3:01 am
  • ari

    we are currently using mysql 5.037(27)
    it looks like when you create a view on a table and then use this view in query with a join or where statement with another table indexes
    from a view(first original table) are not used.Run the same query replacing view with a table it is based and result is in several times faster.

    May 17, 2007 at 10:48 pm
  • javatopia

    We ran into this problem just recently on a real world query. In this case the query was of this form:

    select * from (big inner query) foo order by a, b, c

    The choice to use this query syntax was for programming brevity – it’s easier to rename the output columns from the big inner query using the outer query instead. Alas, though, the nasty version of this query took over 2.5 minutes to run on 53,000 record scans. The version without the outer select ran in 9/10th of a second on the same record space.

    The EXPLAIN clearly showed that the outer select was doing a full table scan on the results instead of using the indices.

    Unbelievable. I ran the exact same nasty query in Microsoft SQL Server 2000 and it performed as expectd – lightning fast execution. The execution plan showed the effective use of table indices and much smarter insertion of the sub-query’s grouping clauses.

    MySQL needs quite a bit of real-world tuning to make it a believable enterprise database. You get what you pay for, right?

    December 14, 2007 at 3:18 pm
  • zblmw





    August 28, 2008 at 8:17 pm
  • John Larsen

    Ari: Did you try immediently running it again with a different where this is where views shine. Yes unless specifically made not to a view will run the exact select stored in the view. But untill the table it is based upon changes relative to that view a temporary table will be stored containing the full view. As the view temp table won’t need recreating a second run with where would be faster than the second run of a regular select because you have less columns to deal with. A view will generally retain it parents indexes.

    January 14, 2009 at 9:33 pm
  • </