Encyclopedia of Database Systems

2009 Edition

Access Path

  • Evaggelia Pitoura
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-39940-9_866



An access path specifies the path chosen by a database management system to retrieve the requested tuples from a relation. An access path may be either (i) a sequential scan of the data file or (ii) an index scan with a matching selection condition when there are indexes that match the selection conditions in the query. In general, an index matches a selection condition, if the index can be used to retrieve all tuples that satisfy the condition.

Key Points

Access paths are the alternative ways for retrieving specific tuples from a relation. Typically, there is more than one way to retrieve tuples because of the availability of indexes and the potential presence of conditions specified in the query for selecting the tuples. Typical access methods include sequential access of unordered data files (heaps) as well as various kinds of indexes. All commercial database systems implement heaps and B+ tree indexes. Most of them also support hash...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Recommended Reading

  1. 1.
    Selinger P.G., Astrahan M.M., Chamberlin D.D., Lorie R.A., Price T.G. Access path selection in a relational database management system. In Proc. ACM SIGMOD Int. Conf. on Management of Data, 1979, pp. 23–34.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Evaggelia Pitoura
    • 1
  1. 1.University of IoanninaIoanninaGreece