What Is A Materialized View? - ITU Online

What Is a Materialized View?

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Definition: Materialized View

A materialized view is a database object that contains the results of a query. It is similar to a standard view, which is a virtual table representing the results of a query, except that a materialized view is physically stored on disk, making data retrieval much faster. Materialized views are especially useful in data warehousing environments, where they speed up the process of accessing frequently queried but computationally expensive data.


Materialized views are used to optimize query performance by storing the result of a query in a physical table that can be refreshed periodically or on demand. This is particularly beneficial for queries involving complex joins, aggregations, or calculations that would otherwise need to be performed every time the query is executed. Materialized views improve performance by precomputing and storing the query result, thus avoiding the overhead of executing the query repeatedly.

Features of Materialized Views

Data Storage

Unlike standard views that dynamically retrieve data upon each query execution, materialized views store the query result directly in the database. This physical storage enables quicker data retrieval but requires additional disk space.

Query Performance

Materialized views significantly enhance query performance for complex computations. They are particularly effective in scenarios where the underlying data does not change frequently but requires heavy read operations.

Refresh Options

Materialized views can be refreshed manually, on a schedule, or triggered by changes in the underlying data. Refresh strategies can be tailored to balance between query performance and data freshness.

Dependency Management

Materialized views are dependent on the tables from which they derive their data. Database management systems keep track of these dependencies to ensure that changes in source tables can trigger updates to the materialized views as necessary.

Benefits of Materialized Views

Improved Query Performance

By storing the result of a query, materialized views reduce the time and computational overhead associated with frequently executed queries.

Timely Data Access

For applications requiring quick response times, materialized views provide a faster alternative to running complex queries on large datasets.

Efficient Data Management

Materialized views help in managing data more efficiently in scenarios where certain queries are executed frequently. They also allow for the separation of heavy computation tasks during off-peak hours by refreshing the views less frequently.

Use Cases of Materialized Views

Data Warehousing

In data warehousing, materialized views are used to precompute and store aggregate data such as sums, averages, and counts, which are frequently accessed but expensive to compute on the fly.

Reporting and Analytics

Materialized views facilitate timely and efficient reporting and analytics by storing complex query results, which can be quickly accessed by reporting tools and dashboards.

Real-time Data Aggregation

For applications that require real-time or near-real-time data aggregation, materialized views can provide an efficient solution by periodically refreshing the data to reflect the most recent updates.

Frequently Asked Questions Related to Materialized View

What is the difference between a view and a materialized view?

A view is a virtual table that dynamically generates results using a SQL query upon each access, while a materialized view stores the query result physically on the disk, allowing for quicker data retrieval.

How often should a materialized view be refreshed?

The refresh frequency of a materialized view should be determined based on the nature of the underlying data and the application’s requirements for data freshness versus query performance.

Can materialized views be indexed?

Yes, unlike standard views, materialized views can be indexed to further improve query performance.

What happens if the data underlying a materialized view changes?

If the underlying data changes, the materialized view needs to be refreshed to reflect these changes. This can be set up to happen automatically or manually, depending on the configuration.

Are materialized views suitable for all types of databases?

Materialized views are most beneficial in databases where read performance is critical and the data does not change frequently. They are commonly used in data warehousing and business intelligence applications.

Can changes in a materialized view affect the source tables?

No, changes made to a materialized view do not affect the source tables from which the view is derived. The view is only a snapshot of the data.

What are the main challenges in managing materialized views?

The main challenges include managing the storage space, deciding the refresh strategy, and maintaining performance as the volume of data grows.

How do materialized views handle data redundancy?

Materialized views can lead to data redundancy because they store a copy of the data. This requires careful management to balance between performance gains and storage efficiency.

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