Repeatable Read isolation

Repeatable Read isolation (ANSI Serializable and ANSI Repeatable Read) is the strictest isolation level. With Repeatable Read, the database server locks all rows examined (not just fetched) for the duration of the transaction.

The example in Figure 1 shows when the database server places and releases locks for a repeatable read. At fetch a row, the server places a lock on the row being fetched and on every row it examines in order to retrieve this row. At close the cursor, the server releases the lock on the last row.
Figure 1. Locks placed for repeatable read
set isolation to repeatable read
begin work
declare cursor for SELECT * FROM customer
open the cursor
while there are more rows
    fetch a row
    do work
end while
close the cursor
commit work

Repeatable Read is useful during any processing in which multiple rows are examined, but none must change during the transaction. For example, suppose an application must check the account balance of three accounts that belong to one person. The application gets the balance of the first account and then the second. But, at the same time, another application begins a transaction that debits the third account and credits the first account. By the time that the original application obtains the account balance of the third account, it has been debited. However, the original application did not record the debit of the first account.

When you use Committed Read or Cursor Stability, the previous scenario can occur. However, it cannot occur with Repeatable Read. The original application holds a read lock on each account that it examines until the end of the transaction, so the attempt by the second application to change the first account fails (or waits, depending upon SET LOCK MODE).

Because even examined rows are locked, if the database server reads the table sequentially, a large number of rows unrelated to the query result can be locked. For this reason, use Repeatable Read isolation for tables when the database server can use an index to access a table. If an index exists and the optimizer chooses a sequential scan instead, you can use directives to force use of the index. However, forcing a change in the query path might negatively affect query performance.

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