Describes the intersect relation operator in the multi-stage query engine.

The intersect operator is a relational operator that combines two relations and returns the common rows between them. The operator is used to find the intersection of two or more relations, usually by using the SQL INTERSECT operator.

Although it is accepted by the parser, the ALL modifier is currently ignored. Therefore INTERSECT and INTERSECT ALL are equivalent. This issue has been reported in #13126

Implementation details

The current implementation consumes the whole right input relation first and stores the rows in a set. Then it consumes the left input relation one block at a time. Each time a block of rows is read from the left input relation, the operator checks if the rows are in the set of rows from the right input relation. All unique rows that are in the set are added to a new partial result block. Once the whole left input block is analyzed, the operator emits the partial result block.

This process is repeated until all rows from the left input relation are processed.

In pseudo-code, the algorithm looks like this:

Blocking nature

The intersect operator is a semi-blocking operator that first consumes the right input relation in a blocking fashion and then consumes the left input relation in a streaming fashion.

HashSet<Row> rightRows = new HashSet<>();
Block rightBlock = rightInput.nextBlock();
while (rightBlock is not EOS) {
    rightBlock = rightInput.nextBlock();
Block leftBlock = leftInput.nextBlock();
while (leftBlock is not EOS) {
    Block partialResultBlock = new Block();
    for (Row row : leftBlock.getRows()) {
        if (rightRows.remove(row)) {
    emit partialResultBlock;
    leftBlock = leftInput.nextBlock();
emit EOS





Type: Long

The summation of time spent by all threads executing the operator. This means that the wall time spent in the operation may be smaller that this value if the parallelism is larger than 1.


Type: Long

The number of groups emitted by the operator.

Explain attributes

The intersect operator is represented in the explain plan as a LogicalIntersect explain node.


Type: Boolean

This attribute is used to indicate if the operator should return all the rows or only the distinct rows.

Although it is accepted in SQL, the all attribute is not currently used in the intersect operator. The returned rows are always distinct. This issue has been reported in #13126

Tips and tricks

The order of input relations matter

The intersect operator has a memory footprint that is proportional to the number of unique rows in the right input relation. It also consumes the right input relation in a blocking fashion while the left input relation is consumed in a streaming fashion.

This means that:

  • In case any of the input relations is significantly larger than the other, it is recommended to use the smaller relation as the right input relation.

  • In case one of the input is blocking and the other is not, it is recommended to use the blocking relation as the right input relation.

These two hints can be contradictory, so it is up to the user to decide which one to follow based on the specific query pattern. Remember that you can use the stage stats to check the number of rows emitted by each of the inputs and adjust the order of the inputs accordingly.

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