There are many little bits and pieces lurking in the Oracle code set that would be very useful if only you had had time to notice them. Here’s one that seems to be virtually unknown, yet does a wonderful job of eliminating calls to decode().
The nvl2() function takes three parameters, returning the third if the first is null and returning the second if the first is not null. This is convenient for all sorts of example where you might otherwise use an expression involving case or decode(), but most particularly it’s a nice little option if you want to create a function-based index that indexes only those rows where a column is null.
If you drop a unique or primary key constraint the index that supports it may be dropped at the same time – but this doesn’t always happen. Someone asked me recently if it was possible to tell whether or not an index would be dropped without having to find out the hard way by dropping the constraint. The answer is yes – after all, Oracle has to make a decision somehow, so if we can find out how it makes the decision we can predict the decision.
So here’s my best theory so far – along with the observations that led to it. First, run a trace while dropping a primary key constraint and see if this gives you any clues; on an instance running 10gR2 I noticed the following statement appearing in the trace file immediately after the delete from cdef$ (constraint definitions).
Here’s a model of a little problem I came across recently. It’s something I wrote about many years ago, and I thought I’d seen a note on Metalink (probably Note 73167.1 – see comments 2 and 4 below) explaining that the issue had been addressed; but the problem is still there, even in 18.104.22.168.
We start with a little data set (and it’s my standard setup of 8KB blocks, LMTs, 1MB uniform extents, and no ASSM):
You might think from the title that this little note is going to be about the index hash join – you would be half right, it’s also about how the optimizer seems to make a complete hash of dealing with index hash joins.
Let’s set up a simple data set and a couple of indexes so that we can take a closer look:
In my previous post, I made the comment:
In general, if you have a three-column index that starts with the same columns in the same order as the two-column index then the three-column index will be bigger and have a higher clustering_factor.
So what scenarios can you come up with that fall outside the general case ?
Alternatively, what argument could you put forward that justifies the general claim ?
I’ll try to respond to comments on this post a little more quickly than the last one, but I still have quite a lot of other comments to catch up on.
Browsing a little history recently I came across a note I’d written about the new-style index hint. In that note I claimed that:
… the index has to start with the columns (product_group, id) in that order – with preference given to an exact match, otherwise using the lowest cost index that starts the right way.
On reading this statement I suddenly realised that I hadn’t actually proved (to myself, even) that if I had the indexes (product_group, id) and (product_group, id, other_col) then a two-column hint forced Oracle to use the two column index in all (legal) circumstances.
So, tonight’s quiz – are there any edge cases, and what easy ways can you think of to prove (or disprove) the claim for the general case.
Footnote: you don’t have to demonstrate the method, just a brief outline of the idea will be sufficient.
Here’s a follow-up to a post I did some time ago about estimating the size of an index before you create it. The note describes dbms_stats.create_index_cost() procedure, and how it depends on the results of a call to explain plan. A recent question on the OTN database forum highlighted a bug in explain plan, however, which I can demonstrate very easily. I’ll start with a small amount of data to demonstrate the basic content that is used to calculate the index cost.
Here’s a funny little optimizer bug – though one that seems to have been fixed by at least 10.2.0.3. It showed up earlier on today in a thread on the OTN database forum. We’ll start (in 22.214.171.124) with a little table and two indexes – one normal, the other descending.
This one’s so odd I nearly posted it as a “Quiz Night” – but decided that it would be friendlier simply to demonstrate it. Here’s a simple script to create a couple of identical tables. It’s using my standard environment but, apart from fiddling with optimizer settings, I doubt if there’s any reason why you need to worry too much about getting the environment exactly right.
Here are a few thoughts on dbms_stats – in particular the procedure gather_index_stats.
The procedure counts the number of used leaf blocks and the number of distinct keys using a count distinct operation, which means you get an expensive aggregation operation when you gather stats on a large index. It would be nice efficiency feature if Oracle changed the code to use the new Approximate NDV mechanism for these counts.
In a recent question on OTN someone asked why Oracle had put some columns into the overflow segment of an IOT when they had specified that they should be in the main index section (the “IOT_TOP”) by using the including clause.
The answer is simple and devious; there’s a little trap hidden in the including clause. It tells Oracle which columns to include, but it gets applied only after Oracle has re-arranged the column ordering (internally) to put the primary key columns first. The OP had put the last column of the primary key AFTER the dozen columns in the table that he wanted in the index section, but Oracle moved that column to the fifth position in the internal table definition, so didn’t include the desired 10 extra columns.
It was good to see the answers to the last Quiz Night accumulating. The problem posed was simply this: I have two IOTs and I’ve inserted the same data into them with the same “insert as select” statement. Can you explain the cost of a particular query (and it’s the same for both tables) and extreme differences in work actually done. Here’s the query, the critical stats on the primary key indexes, the shared plan, and the critical execution statistic for running the plan.
Inspired by Martin Widlake’s series on IOTs, I thought I’d throw out this little item. In the following, run against 10.2.0.3, tables t3 and t4 are index organized tables, in the same tablespace, with a primary key of (id1, id2) in that order.
A new form of index hint appeared in 10g – and it’s becoming more common to see it in production code; instead of naming indexes in index hints, we describe them. Consider the following hint (expressed in two ways, first as it appeared in the outline section of an execution plan, then cosmetically adjusted to look more like the way you would write it in your SQL):
INDEX(@"SEL$1" "PRD"@"SEL$1" ("PRODUCTS"."PRODUCT_GROUP" "PRODUCTS"."ID"))
index(@sel$1 prd@sel$1(product_group id))
Here’s one I keep forgetting – and spending 15 minutes trying to think of the answer before getting to the “deja vu” point again. I’ve finally decided that I’ve got to write the answer down because that will save me about 14 minutes the next time I forget.
Q. In a Statspack or AWR report there is a section titles “Segments by Row Lock Waits”. Why could an index be subject to a Row Lock Wait ?
A. Try inserting into a table from two different sessions (without committing) two rows with the same primary key. The second insert will wait on event enq: TX – row lock contention, and show up in v$lock with a lock request for a TX lock in mode 4. When you issue a commit or rollback on the first session, and the second statement errors or completes (depending on whether you commit or rollback the first session) it will increase the value for row lock waits in v$segstat (and v$segment_statistics) for the index by 1.
There are variations on the theme, of course, but the key feature is uniqueness with one session waiting for another session to commit or rollback on a conflicting value. This includes cases of foreign key constraint checking such as inserting a child for a parent that has been deleted but not committed (and there’s an interesting anomaly with that scenario which – in 10g, at least – reports more row lock waits on the parent PK than you might expect.)