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The problem is that what you want can't be had within an MVCC framework. To get what you want, you really need global, thread-safe mutable data. MVCC instead gives you multiple parallel universes that spring into existence and then disappear, possibly making indelible changes on the next parallel universes to be created in the process.

It boils down to two problems. You can't be sure you're the only transaction in progress, and you also can't "take back" a sequence number. If you could guarantee you were the only transaction, you could just use COUNT. But since you can't, you could have two transactions in progress that both get the same COUNT result and you wind up with two "Chapter 5"s. You can put a UNIQUE constraint on that table, and then one of your transactions fails that constraint. That way you retain integrity and you get (at least for a while) sequential numbering, but there is no in-database way to ensure that a sequence of numbers has no gaps. This is because to do so would be expensive but also not really relate to data integrity.

The purpose of PostgreSQL sequences is to reliably generate surrogate keys. That means every transaction in progress gets a separate ID from that sequence. They all have to be unique because they all might commit. If they rollback instead, it doesn't matter; those become gaps, but nobody is failing the UNIQUE constraint.

What are you going to do to seal the gap when you have two transactions in progress on the same sequence and one of them rolls back? Are you going to pause the other transaction and propagate some kind of decrement to the other transactions? What if I inserted that ID into another table or called a globally-visible stored procedure (sent an email, for example)? I'm not certain it would even be possible, but even if it were, it would clearly be extremely expensive, and therefore, probably not a feature you want on by default.

So I hope that explains why this is not "in scope." :)




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