Compression dictionaries

A compression dictionary is a library of frequently occurring patterns in data or index keys and the symbol numbers that replace the patterns.

One compression dictionary exists for each compressed fragment, each compressed non-fragmented table, each compressed simple large object in a dbspace, and each compressed index partition.

A compression dictionary is built using data that is sampled randomly from a fragment or non-fragmented table that contains at least 2,000 rows, or an index that has at least 2,000 keys. Typically, approximately 100 KB of space is required for storing the compression dictionary.

The compression dictionary can store a maximum of 3,840 patterns, each of which can be from two to 15 bytes in length. (Patterns that are longer than seven bytes reduce the total number of patterns that the dictionary can hold.) Each of these patterns is represented by a 12-bit symbol number in a compressed row. To be compressed, a sequence of bytes in the input row image must exactly match a complete pattern in the dictionary. A row that does not have enough pattern matches against the dictionary might not be compressible because each byte of an input row that did not completely match is replaced in the compressed image by 12 bits (1.5 bytes).

Informix® attempts to capture the best compressible patterns (the frequency of the pattern that is multiplied by the length). Data is compressed by replacing occurrences of the patterns with the corresponding symbol numbers from the dictionary, and replacing occurrences of bytes that do not match any pattern with special reserved symbol numbers.

All dictionaries for the tables or fragments in a dbspace are stored in a hidden dictionary table in that dbspace. The syscompdicts_full table and the syscompdicts view in the sysmaster database provide information about the compression dictionaries.

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