13.6.9. The InnoDB Transaction Model and Locking

To implement a large-scale, busy, or highly reliable database application, to port substantial code from a different database system, or to push MySQL performance to the limits of the laws of physics, you must understand the notions of transactions and locking as they relate to the InnoDB storage engine.

In the InnoDB transaction model, the goal is to combine the best properties of a multi-versioning database with traditional two-phase locking. InnoDB does locking on the row level and runs queries as nonlocking consistent reads by default, in the style of Oracle. The lock information in InnoDB is stored so space-efficiently that lock escalation is not needed: Typically, several users are permitted to lock every row in InnoDB tables, or any random subset of the rows, without causing InnoDB memory exhaustion.

In InnoDB, all user activity occurs inside a transaction. If autocommit mode is enabled, each SQL statement forms a single transaction on its own. By default, MySQL starts the session for each new connection with autocommit enabled, so MySQL does a commit after each SQL statement if that statement did not return an error. If a statement returns an error, the commit or rollback behavior depends on the error. See Section 13.6.13, “InnoDB Error Handling”.

A session that has autocommit enabled can perform a multiple-statement transaction by starting it with an explicit START TRANSACTION or BEGIN statement and ending it with a COMMIT or ROLLBACK statement. See Section 12.3.1, “START TRANSACTION, COMMIT, and ROLLBACK Syntax”.

If autocommit mode is disabled within a session with SET autocommit = 0, the session always has a transaction open. A COMMIT or ROLLBACK statement ends the current transaction and a new one starts.

A COMMIT means that the changes made in the current transaction are made permanent and become visible to other sessions. A ROLLBACK statement, on the other hand, cancels all modifications made by the current transaction. Both COMMIT and ROLLBACK release all InnoDB locks that were set during the current transaction.

In terms of the SQL:1992 transaction isolation levels, the default InnoDB level is REPEATABLE READ. InnoDB offers all four transaction isolation levels described by the SQL standard: READ UNCOMMITTED, READ COMMITTED, REPEATABLE READ, and SERIALIZABLE.

A user can change the isolation level for a single session or for all subsequent connections with the SET TRANSACTION statement. To set the server's default isolation level for all connections, use the --transaction-isolation option on the command line or in an option file. For detailed information about isolation levels and level-setting syntax, see Section 12.3.6, “SET TRANSACTION Syntax”.

In row-level locking, InnoDB normally uses next-key locking. That means that besides index records, InnoDB can also lock the “gap” preceding an index record to block insertions by other sessions in the gap immediately before the index record. A next-key lock refers to a lock that locks an index record and the gap before it. A gap lock refers to a lock that locks only the gap before some index record.

For more information about row-level locking, and the circumstances under which gap locking is disabled, see Section, “InnoDB Record, Gap, and Next-Key Locks”.

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