InnoDB Record, Gap, and Next-Key Locks

InnoDB has several types of record-level locks:

  • Record lock: This is a lock on an index record.

  • Gap lock: This is a lock on a gap between index records, or a lock on the gap before the first or after the last index record.

  • Next-key lock: This is a combination of a record lock on the index record and a gap lock on the gap before the index record.

Record locks always lock index records, even if a table is defined with no indexes. For such cases, InnoDB creates a hidden clustered index and uses this index for record locking. See Section, “Clustered and Secondary Indexes”.

By default, InnoDB operates in REPEATABLE READ transaction isolation level and with the innodb_locks_unsafe_for_binlog system variable disabled. In this case, InnoDB uses next-key locks for searches and index scans, which prevents phantom rows (see Section, “Avoiding the Phantom Problem Using Next-Key Locking”).

Next-key locking combines index-row locking with gap locking. InnoDB performs row-level locking in such a way that when it searches or scans a table index, it sets shared or exclusive locks on the index records it encounters. Thus, the row-level locks are actually index-record locks. In addition, a next-key lock on an index record also affects the “gap” before that index record. That is, a next-key lock is an index-record lock plus a gap lock on the gap preceding the index record. If one session has a shared or exclusive lock on record R in an index, another session cannot insert a new index record in the gap immediately before R in the index order.

Suppose that an index contains the values 10, 11, 13, and 20. The possible next-key locks for this index cover the following intervals, where ( or ) denote exclusion of the interval endpoint and [ or ] denote inclusion of the endpoint:

(negative infinity, 10]
(10, 11]
(11, 13]
(13, 20]
(20, positive infinity)

For the last interval, the next-key lock locks the gap above the largest value in the index and the “supremum” pseudo-record having a value higher than any value actually in the index. The supremum is not a real index record, so, in effect, this next-key lock locks only the gap following the largest index value.

The preceding example shows that a gap might span a single index value, multiple index values, or even be empty.

Gap locking is not needed for statements that lock rows using a unique index to search for a unique row. (This does not include the case that the search condition includes only some columns of a multiple-column unique index; in that case, gap locking does occur.) For example, if the id column has a unique index, the following statement uses only an index-record lock for the row having id value 100 and it does not matter whether other sessions insert rows in the preceding gap:

SELECT * FROM child WHERE id = 100;

If id is not indexed or has a nonunique index, the statement does lock the preceding gap.

A type of gap lock called an insertion intention gap lock is set by INSERT operations prior to row insertion. This lock signals the intent to insert in such a way that multiple transactions inserting into the same index gap need not wait for each other if they are not inserting at the same position within the gap. Suppose that there are index records with values of 4 and 7. Separate transactions that attempt to insert values of 5 and 6 each lock the gap between 4 and 7 with insert intention locks prior to obtaining the exclusive lock on the inserted row, but do not block each other because the rows are nonconflicting.

Gap locking can be disabled explicitly. This occurs if you change the transaction isolation level to READ COMMITTED or enable the innodb_locks_unsafe_for_binlog system variable. Under these circumstances, gap locking is disabled for searches and index scans and is used only for foreign-key constraint checking and duplicate-key checking.

There are also other effects of using the READ COMMITTED isolation level or enabling innodb_locks_unsafe_for_binlog: Record locks for nonmatching rows are released after MySQL has evaluated the WHERE condition. For UPDATE statements, InnoDB does a “semi-consistent” read, such that it returns the latest committed version to MySQL so that MySQL can determine whether the row matches the WHERE condition of the UPDATE.

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