An online index, also commonly referred to as an indexing, is a method of compiling piles of economic data that would normally be separate, into a single metric.
Indexing can be used to reflect on economic activity or to assist in summarizing market activity which companies will often use as performance benchmarks.
Indexing has become a very common tool used by those in the field of finance and economics and is now one of the most popular methods of tracking economic data and statistics.
There are however some intricate details and benefits from indexing which are lesser known but still incredibly useful that make this technique even more effective and worthwhile.
How Does Indexing Work?
Indexing can organize an ordered table into a neat order that can make it much clearer to analyze the economic measures and statistics in each table.
When a table is unindexed, the actual order of the rows is hard to discern by the query, and will therefore have to search through every row to find the rows matching the conditions.
This can take quite a long time as the database would need to run through each individual table to find the query you are looking for which only takes more time the bigger the table is.
Indexing therefore works to organize this in a much easier and neater fashion by causing the database to create a data structure which often takes the shape of a B-Tree.
The main advantage of this is that it makes the data sortable and makes searching far more quick and efficient.
Types Of Indexing
While they function largely the same and serve the same purpose, there are two primary types of indexing that can be used.
Clustered indexes use a primary key to organize the data within the chosen table. A clustered index ensures that the primary key is stored in an increasing order, which is also the order the table will hold in memory.
They therefore do not have to be explicitly declared and are created as soon as the table is created.
A clustered index will be automatically applied to a table centered around the primary key.
The created table will then base itself around this primary key and will be clustered automatically thanks to the index and because it will order the numbers of the table, it allows a search of a figure or query to happen in a very short amount of time.
Non-clustered indexing in contrast is used to increase the speed of queries on a table by creating columns that are much more easily searchable.
Non-clustered indexes can be created by data analysts and developers even after a table has been created and filled out.
One important point to note is that non-clustered indexes are not new tables, they instead hold the field that they are responsible for sorting and a pointer from each of those entries back into the full entry in the table.
Rather than storing data themselves, non-clustered indexes point to memory addresses and while this makes them a bit slower than clustered indexes when it comes to searching a query, they are still much faster than a column that has no index at all.
When Is It Best To Use Indexing?
Indexing becomes more important and useful the larger your database becomes because of how it functions to read through multiple columns at once.
Therefore while you can use indexing on smaller tables, it can be far better suited if you have a lot of data and measurements to go through at once.
It is also good to note that every time a new write or piece of data is added to the indexed database, the indexes will be unusable until they are updated and while this is easy to do, it means that if there are constant rewrites or additions being made on a constant basis, the indexes will struggle to stay effective.
This is the reason indexing is more often applied to databases that have data added on a scheduled basis so it makes updating them easier to manage.
Advantages Of Indexing
The biggest reason to use indexing is because it is one of the easiest ways to track the overall health of a market. By analyzing the statistical measurements it makes it much easier to gauge the current state of the market.
Additionally, the index movements and prices can provide great guidance for investors to how markets have reacted to specific situations in the past.
Indexing also helps investors to achieve their goals relative to benchmarks far more consistently since the risk of picking the wrong stock is mitigated by a large amount.
Disadvantages Of Indexing
The primary disadvantage of indexing is how much it will slow down other actions such as inserts, updates and any deletes since the database engine does not just have to write the data only, but the index too.
Additionally, indexing a column that only has a few values usually does not speed up the process especially if the table is small and can be sorted through much quicker if done manually.
An index used for a site is therefore an extremely useful tool for speeding up operations when having to search through a database for a specific value.
At the same time, it also makes grouping documents, statistics and information far easier to manage and allows search times to be far quicker.
It is well worth experimenting with and using indexing to make managing economic data far easier, allow set goals to be better established and to find any key terms or data you need to search for in a large table in no time.