Understanding the Basics

To truly appreciate the significance of materialized views, it is crucial to comprehend the fundamental differences between materialized views and views.

Materialized Views

Materialized views are database objects that store the results of a query as a physical table, effectively caching the data. Unlike views, materialized views do not retrieve data from the underlying tables each time they are queried. Instead, they pre-compute and store the results, which can be refreshed periodically or manually. This feature allows for faster data retrieval and query optimization, particularly in scenarios where complex aggregations or joins are involved.


Views, on the other hand, are virtual tables derived from the underlying tables or other views. They are essentially saved queries that enable users to simplify complex queries and provide an additional layer of security. Unlike materialized views, views do not store the query results; they dynamically retrieve data from the base tables whenever they are queried. Views offer a logical representation of the data, allowing users to present a specific subset of the data or join multiple tables seamlessly.

Limitations of Materialized Views

While materialized views offer remarkable performance gains, it is important to be aware of their limitations compared to regular tables. Let's explore some of the key limitations:

Data Refresh

One of the primary limitations of materialized views is that the data they store can become stale over time. Unlike regular tables that reflect real-time updates, materialized views need to be refreshed periodically or manually to capture the latest changes from the underlying tables. This can introduce a slight delay in data availability, making them less suitable for scenarios that require up-to-the-minute data accuracy.

Storage Overhead

Materialized views consume additional storage space since they physically store the query results. Depending on the complexity of the query and the size of the underlying data, materialized views can occupy a considerable amount of disk space. It is crucial to consider the storage requirements when utilizing materialized views, particularly in environments with limited disk space.

Maintenance Overhead

As materialized views store precomputed data, they require regular maintenance to ensure data accuracy and optimal performance. Whenever the underlying tables are updated, the materialized views need to be refreshed accordingly. This maintenance overhead can become cumbersome, especially when dealing with large datasets or frequently updated tables.

Creating and Using Materialized Views

To harness the power of materialized views in PostgreSQL, we need to understand how to create, use, update, and remove them. Let's explore each of these processes step by step, accompanied by code samples.

Creating Materialized Views

To create a Materialized View in PostgreSQL, you can use the CREATE MATERIALIZED VIEW statement. Here's an example that creates a Materialized View called sales_summary:

SELECT product_id, SUM(quantity) AS total_quantity, SUM(amount) AS total_amount
FROM sales
GROUP BY product_id;

This Materialized View calculates the total quantity and total amount for each product by grouping the sales data from the sales table based on the product_id column.

Before we can create the Materialized View, we need to have a table with sales data. Here's the Data Definition Language (DDL) statement to create the sales table, along with an example of inserting sample data:

-- Create table sales
    product_id SERIAL PRIMARY KEY,
    quantity INTEGER,
    amount NUMERIC(10, 2)

-- Insert sample data into the sales table
INSERT INTO sales (product_id, quantity, amount) VALUES
    (1, 10, 100.00),
    (2, 5, 50.00),
    (3, 8, 80.00),
    (1, 12, 120.00),
    (2, 15, 150.00),
    (3, 20, 200.00);

Once a materialized view is created, we can query it just like a regular table. Here's an example that retrieves data from the sales_summary view:

SELECT * FROM sales_summary;
 product_id | total_quantity | total_amount
          1 |             22 |       220.00
          2 |             20 |       200.00
          3 |             28 |       280.00

Updating and Removing Materialized Views

Materialized view cannot subsequently be directly updated and that the query used to create the materialized view is stored in exactly the same way that a view's query is stored, so that fresh data can be generated for the materialized view with:


If a materialized view is no longer needed, it can be dropped using the command:


Can I use indexes for Materialized Views?

In PostgreSQL, Materialized Views can utilize indexes, which can significantly improve query performance. By creating indexes on the Materialized View, you can speed up data retrieval and enhance overall query efficiency. Let's modify the previous example to include index creation for the Materialized View.

Here's an example of how you can create indexes on the Materialized View's columns:

-- Create indexes on the Materialized View
CREATE INDEX idx_sales_summary_product_id ON sales_summary (product_id);

By utilizing indexes, queries that filter, sort, or aggregate data based on these indexed columns will benefit from faster data retrieval and improved query execution.

It's important to note that creating indexes on a Materialized View incurs additional storage overhead and increased update times. Therefore, consider the trade-off between query performance and the potential impact on data modification operations.

Remember to monitor the performance of your Materialized View and evaluate the need for indexes based on your specific use case and workload requirements.

When to Use Materialized Views and Their Benefits

Materialized Views are an excellent tool for improving query performance when you have frequently executed complex queries with aggregations or joins. Here are some scenarios where Materialized Views shine:

  • Reports and Dashboards: Materialized Views can be pre-aggregated to provide near-instantaneous results for reports and dashboards.
  • Frequently Accessed Data: Use Materialized Views to store frequently accessed data in a precomputed form, reducing query execution time.
  • Expensive Joins: If your queries involve complex joins, Materialized Views can simplify the process by creating pre-joined tables.
  • Performance Optimization: Materialized Views can optimize complex calculations and aggregations, resulting in faster query response times.

Pros and Cons of Materialized Views

While Materialized Views offer significant performance benefits, it's important to consider their pros and cons before implementing them in your database environment.


Improved Query Performance

By storing precomputed results, materialized views significantly enhance query performance. Complex aggregations, joins, and calculations are executed only during the initial creation or refresh of the view, resulting in faster query response times.

Reduced Resource Consumption

Since materialized views store the computed results, they reduce the load on the underlying tables and indexes. This can lead to improved overall database performance, especially in scenarios with heavy reporting or analytical workloads.

Simplified Querying

Materialized Views simplify complex queries by providing pre-aggregated or pre-joined tables.


Data Staleness

Materialized Views are not automatically updated, which means the data in the view might be stale until refreshed.

Increased Storage Requirements

Materialized Views require additional storage space to store the precomputed results.

Comparing PostgreSQL Materialized Views with Similar RDBMS Functionality

PostgreSQL Materialized Views offer a robust solution for improving query performance, but how do they stack up against similar functionality in other RDBMS? Let's take a quick look at some popular offerings:

MySQL: While MySQL does not have native Materialized Views, you can simulate similar functionality using temporary tables or triggers.

Oracle: Oracle provides Materialized Views, which are similar to PostgreSQL's implementation. However, Oracle's Materialized Views offer more advanced features, such as query rewrite and fast refreshes.

SQL Server: SQL Server supports Materialized Views through indexed views, which allow for efficient querying. However, SQL Server's Materialized Views are more limited in functionality compared to PostgreSQL.


In conclusion, PostgreSQL Materialized Views offer a powerful solution for improving query performance in your database. By leveraging precomputed results, Materialized Views significantly reduce query execution time and simplify complex queries. While they have certain limitations, such as data staleness and increased storage requirements, the benefits they provide make them a valuable tool in any PostgreSQL environment.

Now that you understand the ins and outs of PostgreSQL Materialized Views, it's time to explore how they can supercharge your database performance. Give them a try and unlock the full potential of your PostgreSQL database!