Oracle Scratchpad

June 17, 2014

Cluster Nulls

Filed under: clusters,Indexing,Infrastructure,NULL,Oracle — Jonathan Lewis @ 7:39 am GMT Jun 17,2014

Yesterday’s posting was a reminder that bitmap indexes, unlike B-tree indexes in Oracle,  do store entries where every column in the index is null. The same is true for cluster indexes – which are implemented as basic B-tree indexes. Here’s a test case I wrote to demonstrate the point.

drop table tc1;
drop cluster c including tables;

purge recyclebin;

create cluster c(val number);
create index c_idx on cluster c;
create table tc1 (val number, n1 number, padding varchar2(100)) cluster c(val);

insert into tc1
select
	decode(rownum,1,to_number(null),rownum), rownum, rpad('x',100)
from
	all_objects
where
	rownum <= 100
;

insert into tc1 select * from tc1;
insert into tc1 select * from tc1;
insert into tc1 select * from tc1;
insert into tc1 select * from tc1;
insert into tc1 select * from tc1;
commit;

analyze cluster c compute statistics;
execute dbms_stats.gather_table_stats(user,'tc1');

set autotrace traceonly explain

select * from tc1 where val = 2;
select * from tc1 where val is null;

set autotrace off

Here are the two execution plans from the above queries:


------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation            | Name  | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     |
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT     |       |    32 |  3424 |     1   (0)| 00:00:01 |
|   1 |  TABLE ACCESS CLUSTER| TC1   |    32 |  3424 |     1   (0)| 00:00:01 |
|*  2 |   INDEX UNIQUE SCAN  | C_IDX |     1 |       |     0   (0)| 00:00:01 |
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
---------------------------------------------------
   2 - access("VAL"=2)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation         | Name | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     |
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT  |      |    32 |  3424 |    14   (0)| 00:00:01 |
|*  1 |  TABLE ACCESS FULL| TC1  |    32 |  3424 |    14   (0)| 00:00:01 |
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
---------------------------------------------------
   1 - filter("VAL" IS NULL)

Spot the problem: the second query doesn’t use the index. So, despite the fact that I said that fully null index entries are stored in cluster indexes you might (as the first obvious question) wonder whether or not I was right. So here’s a piece of the symbolic dump of the index.


kdxconro 100                -- Ed: 100 entries (rows) in the leaf block

row#0[8012] flag: -----, lock: 0, data:(8):  02 00 02 0b 00 00 01 00
col 0; len 2; (2):  c1 03

row#1[7999] flag: -----, lock: 0, data:(8):  02 00 02 0c 00 00 01 00
col 0; len 2; (2):  c1 04

...

row#98[6738] flag: -----, lock: 2, data:(8):  02 00 02 6d 00 00 01 00
col 0; len 2; (2):  c2 02

row#99[8025] flag: -----, lock: 0, data:(8):  02 00 02 0a 00 00 01 00
col 0; NULL

The NULL entry is right there – sorted as the high value – just as it is in a bitmap index. But the optimizer won’t use it, even if you hint it.

Of course, Oracle uses it internally when inserting rows (how else, otherwise, would it rapidly find which the heap block needed for the next NULL insertion) – but it won’ use it to retrieve the data, it always uses a full table (cluster) scan. That’s really a little annoying if you’ve made the mistake of allowing nulls into your cluster.

There is a workaround, of course – in this case (depending on version) you could create a virtual column with index or a function-based index that (for example) uses the nvl2() function to convert nulls to a know value and all non-null entries to null; this would give you an index on just the original nulls which would be as small as possible and also have a very good clustering_factor. You’d have to change the code from “column is not null” to a predicate that matched the index, though. For example:


create index tc1_null on tc1(nvl2(val,null,0));

execute dbms_stats.gather_table_stats(user,'tc1', method_opt=>'for all hidden columns size 1');

select * from tc1 where nvl2(val,null,0) = 0;

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation                   | Name     | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     |
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT            |          |    32 |  3456 |     2   (0)| 00:00:01 |
|   1 |  TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID| TC1      |    32 |  3456 |     2   (0)| 00:00:01 |
|*  2 |   INDEX RANGE SCAN          | TC1_NULL |    32 |       |     1   (0)| 00:00:01 |
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
---------------------------------------------------
   2 - access(NVL2("VAL",NULL,0)=0)

I’ve included the compress keyword (which implicitly means “all columns” for a non-unique index) in the definition since you only need 4 repetitions of the single-byte entry that is the internal representation of zero before you start to win on the storage trade-off – but since it’s likely to be a small index anyway that’s not particularly important. (Reminder: although Oracle collects index stats on index creation, you still need to collect column stats on the hidden column underlying the function-based columns on the index to give the optimizer full information.)

2 Comments »

  1. […] while I was scrolling my “WordPress reader” page I saw a post which reminds me to something I had fun before /and find it useful in many […]

    Pingback by B-tree and nulls | progeeking — June 25, 2014 @ 11:39 am GMT Jun 25,2014 | Reply

  2. Hi, take a look at this: http://wp.me/p3QpUL-eh

    Comment by Nikolay Kovachev — June 25, 2014 @ 11:44 am GMT Jun 25,2014 | Reply


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