Page Index

This document describes the format for column index pages in the Parquet footer. These pages contain statistics for DataPages and can be used to skip pages when scanning data in ordered and unordered columns.

Problem Statement

In previous versions of the format, Statistics are stored for ColumnChunks in ColumnMetaData and for individual pages inside DataPageHeader structs. When reading pages, a reader had to process the page header to determine whether the page could be skipped based on the statistics. This means the reader had to access all pages in a column, thus likely reading most of the column data from disk.


  1. Make both range scans and point lookups I/O efficient by allowing direct access to pages based on their min and max values. In particular:
    • A single-row lookup in a row group based on the sort column of that row group will only read one data page per the retrieved column.
    • Range scans on the sort column will only need to read the exact data pages that contain relevant data.
    • Make other selective scans I/O efficient: if we have a very selective predicate on a non-sorting column, for the other retrieved columns we should only need to access data pages that contain matching rows.
  2. No additional decoding effort for scans without selective predicates, e.g., full-row group scans. If a reader determines that it does not need to read the index data, it does not incur any overhead.
  3. Index pages for sorted columns use minimal storage by storing only the boundary elements between pages.


  • Support for the equivalent of secondary indices, i.e., an index structure sorted on the key values over non-sorted data.

Technical Approach

We add two new per-column structures to the row group metadata:

  • ColumnIndex: this allows navigation to the pages of a column based on column values and is used to locate data pages that contain matching values for a scan predicate
  • OffsetIndex: this allows navigation by row index and is used to retrieve values for rows identified as matches via the ColumnIndex. Once rows of a column are skipped, the corresponding rows in the other columns have to be skipped. Hence the OffsetIndexes for each column in a RowGroup are stored together.

The new index structures are stored separately from RowGroup, near the footer.
This is done so that a reader does not have to pay the I/O and deserialization cost for reading them if it is not doing selective scans. The index structures' location and length are stored in ColumnChunk.

Page Index Layout

Some observations:

  • We don’t need to record the lower bound for the first page and the upper bound for the last page, because the row group Statistics can provide that. We still include those for the sake of uniformity, and the overhead should be negligible.
  • We store lower and upper bounds for the values of each page. These may be the actual minimum and maximum values found on a page, but can also be (more compact) values that do not exist on a page. For example, instead of storing ““Blart Versenwald III”, a writer may set min_values[i]="B", max_values[i]="C". This allows writers to truncate large values and writers should use this to enforce some reasonable bound on the size of the index structures.
  • Readers that support ColumnIndex should not also use page statistics. The only reason to write page-level statistics when writing ColumnIndex structs is to support older readers (not recommended).

For ordered columns, this allows a reader to find matching pages by performing a binary search in min_values and max_values. For unordered columns, a reader can find matching pages by sequentially reading min_values and max_values.

For range scans, this approach can be extended to return ranges of rows, page indices, and page offsets to scan in each column. The reader can then initialize a scanner for each column and fast forward them to the start row of the scan.

The min_values and max_values are calculated based on the column_orders field in the FileMetaData struct of the footer.

Last modified January 14, 2024: Sync site with format release v2.10.0 (7cf58a9)