Question: How can I use auto_increment within a partitioned table in PostgreSQL?


PostgreSQL doesn't have AUTO_INCREMENT like MySQL. Instead, it uses sequences and the SERIAL or BIGSERIAL data types to automatically generate unique values for columns, which can be particularly useful for primary keys. When working with partitioned tables, implementing an auto-increment feature requires some additional considerations. Here's how you can achieve this.

Understanding Partitioning

Partitioning involves splitting one large table into smaller, more manageable pieces, while still treating them as a single table from the perspective of a query. This is useful for improving performance on very large datasets.

Auto-increment in Partitioned Tables

Since PostgreSQL 10, it has supported declarative partitioning, making it easier to set up and manage partitions. However, managing sequences across these partitions to ensure unique values can be complex. Each partition is essentially a separate table, and if you simply use a SERIAL column, each partition will have its own sequence, potentially generating conflicting IDs between partitions.

Solution: Using a Global Sequence

One way to handle this is by creating a global sequence manually and using it across all partitions to ensure that the IDs are unique across the entire dataset.

-- Create a global sequence CREATE SEQUENCE global_id_sequence; -- Create the master table CREATE TABLE master_table ( id bigint NOT NULL DEFAULT nextval('global_id_sequence'), value text, partition_key int -- this is used to define partitions ) PARTITION BY RANGE (partition_key); -- Create partitions (for example, based on years) CREATE TABLE master_table_partition1 PARTITION OF master_table FOR VALUES FROM (MINVALUE) TO (2000); CREATE TABLE master_table_partition2 PARTITION OF master_table FOR VALUES FROM (2000) TO (MAXVALUE); -- Insert data INSERT INTO master_table (value, partition_key) VALUES ('Some text', 1999); INSERT INTO master_table (value, partition_key) VALUES ('Some text', 2001);

In this example, id will increment globally, regardless of the partition into which a row is inserted. This ensures uniqueness across the entire logical table. Adjust the partitioning criteria as necessary for your specific case.


  • Performance: Using a single global sequence may introduce a bottleneck under high write loads. Evaluate the performance implications for your specific application.
  • Maintenance: If you add or remove partitions, you don't need to adjust the sequence. However, ensuring that partition key ranges don't overlap and managing them can require careful planning.

This approach provides a solid basis for handling auto-increment functionality within partitioned tables in PostgreSQL.

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