Oracle Scratchpad

February 4, 2014


Filed under: Indexing,Oracle — Jonathan Lewis @ 1:33 am BST Feb 4,2014

To create an index on a table (with no existing indexes) Oracle has to start by doing a tablescan.

What’s the difference between the tablescan it uses for a B-tree index and the tablescan it uses for a bitmap index ? Why ?


I was going to give a hint that if you answered the “why” first that might lead you to the right idea and a test for the “what”, but we already have an answer, with a sample of proof.

February 1, 2014

Modify PK

Filed under: Indexing,Oracle — Jonathan Lewis @ 11:00 am BST Feb 1,2014

Sitting in the lounge waiting to be called for my flight I was musing on the 12c feature of having multiple indexes defined on the same ordered column set  when a thought crossed my mind and I decided to run a little test that looked like this:

create table t1 as select * from all_objects where rownum <= 10000;

create unique index t1_pk on t1(object_id);

alter table t1 add constraint t1_pk primary key(object_id);

create index t1_i1 on t1(object_id, object_name);

drop index t1_pk;

    expect ORA-02429: cannot drop index used for enforcement of unique/primary key

alter table t1 modify primary key using index t1_i1;

drop index t1_pk;

For years I’ve been assuming that you really have to mess around with the PK (and any related FKs) if you want to change the index supporting the primary key – but this code demonstrates that you can add a new index to a table and “move” the primary key to it before dropping the original index.

The worrying thing about this (for me, at any rate) is that it isn’t a new feature – after testing it on I started working backwards, and it works down to (the earlist 9i I have access to). It doesn’t work on, and the version behaves slightly differently from later versions because the original PK index disappears as the constraint is moved.

As I’ve often said about trust – keep an eye on the date and version of any article you read, it may no longer be true.

January 26, 2014


Filed under: Bugs,Indexing,Oracle,Troubleshooting,Tuning — Jonathan Lewis @ 12:08 pm BST Jan 26,2014

I was involved in a thread on Oracle-L recently started with the question: “How many LIOs is too many LIOs”. Rather than rewrite the whole story, I’ve supplied a list of links to the contributions I made, in order – the final “answer” is actually the answer to a different question – but travels an interesting path to get there.#

I’ve got a script to emulate the requirement so that people can see for themselves the bug that I mention in post 15; I’ll try to add a couple of notes to it and publish it some time, but for the moment I’ll just remind myself that it’s called (slightly counter-intuitively: no_sort_problem.sql)

January 17, 2014

Bitmap question

Filed under: bitmaps,Indexing,Oracle — Jonathan Lewis @ 7:06 pm BST Jan 17,2014

If you know anything about bitmap indexes you probably know that a single entry in a bitmap index takes the form (key_value, starting rowid, ending rowid, BBC compressed bit string). So an entry covers a single value for a column over a range of rowids  in the table, and the string of bits for that (notional) range is reduce to a minimum by a compression mechanism that eliminate repeated zeros in multiples of 8.

So here’s a question – to which I don’t know the answer, although you may be surprised when you try to find it:

If you have a very large table and in one of its columns the first row and the last row (and no others) hold the value 0 (say) and you create a bitmap index on this column, what’s the largest number of rows you could have in the table before Oracle would HAVE to create two index entries in order to cover both rows ?

Follow-up question – once you start getting close to working out the answer, can you think of a way to provide an example without actually creating a table with that many rows in it ?


January 3, 2014

Index Hash

Filed under: Bugs,CBO,Hints,Ignoring Hints,Index Joins,Indexing,Oracle — Jonathan Lewis @ 6:56 pm BST Jan 3,2014

I’m afraid this is one of my bad puns again – an example of the optimizer  making a real hash of the index hash join. I’m going to create a table with several indexes (some of them rather similar to each other) and execute a query that should do an index join between the obvious two indexes. To show how obvious the join should be I’m going to start with a couple of queries that show the cost of simple index fast full scans.

Here’s the data generating code:


December 17, 2013

dbms_space usage

Filed under: ASSM,Indexing,Infrastructure,Oracle — Jonathan Lewis @ 6:43 pm BST Dec 17,2013

Just throwing out a brief comment (one of my many draft notes that I don’t have time to complete) about the dbms_space package. You’re probably familiar with this package and how, for ASSM segments, it can give you a measure of the available space in the blocks in a data segment, reporting 6 possible states of the blocks below the high high water mark (HHWM) e.g.:


December 13, 2013

Bitmap Question

Filed under: Indexing,Infrastructure,Oracle,Partitioning — Jonathan Lewis @ 6:09 pm BST Dec 13,2013

This question came up on the OTN database forum a couple of months ago: “Why doesn’t Oracle allow you to create globally partitioned bitmap indexes?” The obvius answer is “It just doesn’t, okay.” But it can be quite interesting to think of reasons why a particular mechanism might not have been implemented – sometimes the answer can give you an insight into how a feature has been implemented, or it might suggest cases where a feature might not work very well, it might give you some ideas on how to work around a particular limitation, and sometimes it might just help to pass the time on a short flight.


December 9, 2013

Bitmap join indexes

Filed under: Indexing,Oracle,Statistics — Jonathan Lewis @ 6:01 pm BST Dec 9,2013

Here’s another of my “draft” notes that needs some exapansion and, most importantly, proof.

I have a fact table with a status id column that shows a massive skew. But I also have a dimension table that holds the “status code” so (in theory, at least) I have to do a join from the statuses table to the facts table to find rows of a given status. Unfortunately the join hides the skew:


November 14, 2013

32K Columns

Filed under: 12c,Function based indexes,Indexing,Infrastructure,Oracle — Jonathan Lewis @ 8:06 am BST Nov 14,2013

Oracle 12c has increased the maximum length of character-based columns to 32K bytes – don’t get too excited, they’re stored out of lines (so similar in cost to LOBs) and need some modification to the parameter file and data dictionary (starting the database in upgrade mode) before you can use them.

Richard Foote has a pair of articles on indexing such columns:

Be cautious about enabling this option and test carefully – there are going to be a number of side effects, and some of them may require a significant investment in time to resolve. The first one that came to my mind was that if you’ve created a function-based index on a pl/sql function that returns a varchar2() type and haven’t explicitly created the index on a substr() of the return value then the data type of the function’s return value will change from the current default of varchar2(4000) to varchar2(32767) – which means the index will become invalid and can’t be rebuilt or recreated.

Obviously you can redefine the index to include an explicit substr() call – but then you have to find all the code that was supposed to use the index and modify it accordingly.

November 11, 2013

Reverse Key

Filed under: Indexing,Oracle,Performance — Jonathan Lewis @ 3:19 pm BST Nov 11,2013

Here’s one of those little details which I would have said just couldn’t be true – except it’s in the manuals, and the manuals happen to be right.


November 6, 2013

12c In-memory

Filed under: 12c,compression,Indexing,Infrastructure,Oracle — Jonathan Lewis @ 6:53 pm BST Nov 6,2013

I wrote a note about the 12c “In-Memory” option some time ago on the OTN Database forum and thought I’d posted a link to it from the blog. If I have I can’t find it now so, to avoid losing it, here’s a copy of the comments I made:


October 2, 2013

FBI decode

Filed under: Bugs,CBO,Function based indexes,Indexing,Oracle — Jonathan Lewis @ 8:26 am BST Oct 2,2013

It probably won’t surprise many people to hear me say that the decode() function can be a bit of a nuisance; and I’ll bet that quite a lot of people have had trouble occasionally trying to get function-based indexes that use this function to behave properly. So (to put it all together and support the general directives that case is probably a better choice than decode() and that the cast() operator is an important thing to learn) here’s an example of how function-based indexes don’t always allow you to work around bad design/code. (Note: this is a model of a problem I picked up at a client site, stripped to a minimum – you have to pretend that I’m not allowed to fix the problem by changing code).


September 30, 2013

Virtual Integrity

Filed under: Indexing,Infrastructure,Oracle — Jonathan Lewis @ 3:59 pm BST Sep 30,2013

A recent question on the Oracle-L list server described a problem with data coming in from SQL Server and an oddity with referential integrity failing on Oracle because (for example) a child row was in lower case while the parent was in upper.

This raised a few comments on how you might handle referential integrity while allowed case to differ. No doubt it’s been done before – by Tom Kyte if no-one else – but the first thought that crossed my mind was to use virtual columns:

September 3, 2013

Bitmap / Btree

Filed under: 12c,Indexing,Oracle — Jonathan Lewis @ 7:28 am BST Sep 3,2013

Here’s a little note that came about after I tweeted an idle thought on Twitter yesterday

  • 12c allows you to have multiple indexes on the same columns on a table, although only one of them is allowed to be visible at any one time – you can do the same with any recent versions of Oracle “almost”, and without the invisibility requirements. (Thanks to Jason Bucata for suggesting the critical detail on this one.)
  • 12c allows you to have “partial” indexing on partitioned tables –  you can do the same with earlier versions of Oracle “almost” but only if the indexes are local indexes or globally partitioned.
  • 12c doesn’t officially allow you to create an index that is a bitmap in the past and a btree in the present (yet) – although you can almost do this in any recent versions of Oracle.


July 27, 2013


Filed under: CBO,Indexing,Oracle — Jonathan Lewis @ 7:21 am BST Jul 27,2013

The clustering_factor is one of the most important numbers (if not the most important number) affecting the optimizer’s choice of execution plan – it’s the thing that has the most significant effect on the optimizer’s decision on whether to choose a table scan or an index, and on which index to choose.


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