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MySQL 5.1 vs. MySQL 5.5: Floats, Doubles, and Scientific Notation
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For the past few days, I have been upgrading a few servers. We are going from Percona’s patched MySQL 5.1 to MariaDB 5.5 (the subquery optimization is excellent, and we have lots of subqueries). Our process involves upgrading a slave first, and letting it replicate for a while, and if everything’s good, update more slaves, then the master.

This has served us well in the past. And now that we are checking data integrity between masters and slaves with pt-table-checksum, the process involves checking before we start that there is data integrity. This is easy, as we checksum twice daily and have a Nagios alert if there are any discrepancies. After the upgrade, we checksum again, to be sure no data has been changed/corrupted in the process of doing a mysqldump export and import.*

Much to my surprise, after importing the data on one of our dev servers, I found that there were a lot of discrepancies. So I picked a chunk to do some comparisons on, and found something interesting:

On Server version: 5.1.65-rel14.0-log Percona Server (GPL), 14.0, Revision 475:
mysql> select float_field from db.tbl where id=218964;
+-------------+
| float_field |
+-------------+
| 9.58084e-05 |
+-------------+
1 row in set (0.04 sec)

On Server version: 5.5.28a-MariaDB-log MariaDB Server
MariaDB [(none)]> select float_field from db.tbl where id=218964;
+--------------+
| float_field |
+--------------+
| 0.0000958084 |
+--------------+
1 row in set (0.24 sec)

Which of course causes a different checksum. I tried SELECTing the values, casting and converting them, but I could not get them to change in the database. MySQL 5.1 insists on storing in scientific notation, and MariaDB 5.5 (and MySQL 5.5, we tested it out) insists on storing without scientific notation.

Frankly, I’m surprised this has not come up before (I did lots of querying Google for MySQL 5.5 and scientific notation), since it radically changes how numbers look when they are stored and retrieved. I guess code does the right thing…except for pt-table-checksum, and I cannot really blame it.

In the end, I used the –ignore-columns option to pt-table-checksum, with the result of:

SELECT GROUP_CONCAT(DISTINCT COLUMN_NAME) FROM INFORMATION_SCHEMA.COLUMNS WHERE DATA_TYPE IN ('float','double') AND TABLE_SCHEMA NOT IN ('mysql','information_schema','performance_schema');

In this way, I can get an accurate checksum to see if anything has changed, before I mark that the upgrade is complete on this slave server.

* This is just on the first slave. After the first slave is upgraded, we use xtrabackup to copy the data to another server to upgrade it.

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