Cardinality Estimation in DBMS: A Comprehensive Benchmark Evaluation

Cardinality estimation (CardEst) plays a significant role in generating high-quality query plans for a query optimizer in DBMS. In the last decade, an increasing number of advanced CardEst methods (especially ML-based) have been proposed with outstanding estimation accuracy and inference latency. However, there exists no study that systematically evaluates the quality of these methods and answer the fundamental problem: to what extent can these methods improve the performance of query optimizer in real-world settings, which is the ultimate goal of a CardEst method. In this paper, we comprehensively and systematically compare the effectiveness of CardEst methods in a real DBMS. We establish a new benchmark for CardEst, which contains a new complex real-world dataset STATS and a diverse query workload STATS-CEB. We integrate multiple most representative CardEst methods into an open-source database system PostgreSQL, and comprehensively evaluate their true effectiveness in improving query plan quality, and other important aspects affecting their applicability, ranging from inference latency, model size, and training time, to update efficiency and accuracy. We obtain a number of key findings for the CardEst methods, under different data and query settings. Furthermore, we find that the widely used estimation accuracy metric(Q-Error) cannot distinguish the importance of different sub-plan queries during query optimization and thus cannot truly reflect the query plan quality generated by CardEst methods. Therefore, we propose a new metric P-Error to evaluate the performance of CardEst methods, which overcomes the limitation of Q-Error and is able to reflect the overall end-to-end performance of CardEst methods. We have made all of the benchmark data and evaluation code publicly available at

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