What is BITMAP INDEX? What does BITMAP INDEX mean? BITMAP INDEX meaning - BITMAP INDEX definition - BITMAP INDEX explanation.
Source: Wikipedia.org article, adapted under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ license.
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A bitmap index is a special kind of database index that uses bitmaps.
Bitmap indexes have traditionally been considered to work well for low-cardinality columns, which have a modest number of distinct values, either absolutely, or relative to the number of records that contain the data. The extreme case of low cardinality is Boolean data (e.g., does a resident in a city have internet access?), which has two values, True and False. Bitmap indexes use bit arrays (commonly called bitmaps) and answer queries by performing bitwise logical operations on these bitmaps. Bitmap indexes have a significant space and performance advantage over other structures for query of such data. Their drawback is they are less efficient than the traditional B-tree indexes for columns whose data is frequently updated: consequently, they are more often employed in read-only systems that are specialized for fast query - e.g., data warehouses, and generally unsuitable for online transaction processing applications.
Some researchers argue that bitmap indexes are also useful for moderate or even high-cardinality data (e.g., unique-valued data) which is accessed in a read-only manner, and queries access multiple bitmap-indexed columns using the AND, OR or XOR operators extensively.
Bitmap indexes are also useful in data warehousing applications for joining a large fact table to smaller dimension tables such as those arranged in a star schema.
Bitmap based representation can also be used for representing a data structure which is labeled and directed attributed multigraph, used for queries in graph databases.Efficient graph management based on bitmap indices article shows how bitmap index representation can be used to manage large dataset(billions of data points) and answer queries related to graph efficiently.
Basic bitmap indexes use one bitmap for each distinct value. It is possible to reduce the number of bitmaps used by using a different encoding method. For example, it is possible to encode C distinct values using log(C) bitmaps with binary encoding.
This reduces the number of bitmaps, further saving space, but to answer any query, most of the bitmaps have to be accessed. This makes it potentially not as effective as scanning a vertical projection of the base data, also known as a materialized view or projection index. Finding the optimal encoding method that balances (arbitrary) query performance, index size and index maintenance remains a challenge.
Without considering compression, Chan and Ioannidis analyzed a class of multi-component encoding methods and came to the conclusion that two-component encoding sits at the kink of the performance vs. index size curve and therefore represents the best trade-off between index size and query performance.
For high-cardinality columns, it is useful to bin the values, where each bin covers multiple values and build the bitmaps to represent the values in each bin. This approach reduces the number of bitmaps used regardless of encoding method. However, binned indexes can only answer some queries without examining the base data. For example, if a bin covers the range from 0.1 to 0.2, then when the user asks for all values less than 0.15, all rows that fall in the bin are possible hits and have to be checked to verify whether they are actually less than 0.15. The process of checking the base data is known as the candidate check. In most cases, the time used by the candidate check is significantly longer than the time needed to work with the bitmap index. Therefore, binned indexes exhibit irregular performance. They can be very fast for some queries, but much slower if the query does not exactly match a bin.