This is the text of an article I published in the UKOUG magazine a few years ago, but it caught my eye while I was browsing through my knowledge base recently, and it’s still relevant. I haven’t altered the original apart from adding a couple of very brief comments in brackets [Ed: like this].
January 10, 2013
January 6, 2013
Just a quick note to say that I found a blog over the weekend with a number of interesting posts, so I thought I’d pass it on: http://www.bobbydurrettdba.com/
There’s a really cute example (complete with test case) of an optimizer bug (possibly only in 11.1) in the December archive: http://www.bobbydurrettdba.com/2012/12/04/index-causes-poor-performance-in-query-that-doesnt-use-it/
January 3, 2013
Here’s a question that is NOT a trick question, it’s demonstrating an example of optimizer behaviour that might come as a surprise.
I have an index (addr_id0050, effective_date), the first column is numeric, the second is a date. Here’s a query with an execution plan that uses that index:
November 23, 2012
Here’s a funny little glitch – typical of the sort of oddity that creeps into the data dictionary from time to time – cut-n-pasted from 220.127.116.11:
October 23, 2012
A recent question on OTN asked how you could model a case where Oracle had the choice between a “perfect” index for a range scan and an index that could be used for an index skip scan and choose the latter path even though it was clearly (to the human eye) the less sensible choice. There have been a number of wierd and wonderful anomalies with the index skip scan and bad choice over the years, and this particular case is just one of many oddities I have seen in the past – so I didn’t think it would be hard to model one (in fact, I thought I already had at least two examples somewhere in my library – but I couldn’t find them).
Take a data set with two columns, call them id1 and id2, and create indexes on (id1), and (id2, id1). Generate the id1 column as a wide range of cyclic values, generate the id2 set with a small number of repetitive values so that a large number of physically adjacent rows hold the same value. The clustering_factor on the (id1) index will be very large, the clustering_factor on the (id2, id1) index will be relatively small because it will be controlled largely by the repetitive id2 value. Here’s the data set:
October 4, 2012
Another little detail that Hermann Baer mentioned in his presentation yesterday was the ability to create multiple indexes with the same column definition – something which currently gets you Oracle error “ORA-01408: such column list already indexed.”
No details, and there’s always the “safe harbour” slide of course – the one which says seomthing about the presentation being only an indication of current thinking and nothing is guaranteed to appear.
Having said that, this looks like an interesting option for those (possibly rare) occasions when you want to change a unique index into a non-unique index (for example, to change a unique constraint to deferrable). Rather than having to drop the index and create a new one – leaving the table unindexed while the index builds, you appear to have the option to: “create new index online”, “drop old index”. Moving a primary key constraint from one index to the other might not be so easy, of course, especially if there are foreign keys in place – but this certainly looks like a helpful step.
Details to follow when 12c becomes available.
Update Sept 2013
Although you can create multiple indexes with the same column definition, only one of them can be visible at any time – so this should remove the temptation that Richard describes in his comment below. It won’t stop people creating “duplicates”, though, and leaving some of them invisible for a while just in case they need to change their minds. Always keep firm control of your indexing.
September 18, 2012
Occasionally I come across complaints that dbms_stats is not obeying the estimate_percent when sampling data and is therefore taking more time than it “should” when gathering stats. The complaint, when I have seen it, always seems to be about the sample size Oracle chose for indexes.
There is a simple but (I believe) undocumented reason for this: because indexes are designed to collate similar data values they are capable of accentuating any skew in the data distribution, which means a sample taken from a small number of leaf blocks can be highly misleading as a guide to the whole index – so Oracle aims for a minimum sample size for gathering index stats.
I’ve found remnants of a note I wrote on comp.databases.oracle.server in December 2004 which claims that this limit (as of Oracle 9.2) was 919 leaf blocks – and I have a faint memory of discovering this figure in an official Metalink (MOS) note. I can’t find the note any more, but it’s easy enough to set up a test to see if the requirement still exists and if the limit is still the same. Here’s a test I ran recently on 18.104.22.168 using an 8KB block size:
September 11, 2012
A recent post on Oracle-l complained about an oddity when deleting through a function-based index.
I have a function based index but the CBO is not using it. The DML that I expect to have a plan with index range scan is doing a FTS. Its a simple DML that deletes 1000 rows at a time in a loop and is based on the column on which the FBI is created.
Although execution plans are mentioned, we don’t get to see the statement or the plan – and it’s always possible that there will be some clue in the (full) plan that tells us something about the code that the OP has forgotten to mention. However, function-based indexes have a little history of not doing quite what you expect, so I thought I’d take a quick look at the problem, starting with the simplest possible step – do function-based indexes and “normal” b-tree indexes behave differently on a delete. Here’s the data set I created for my test:
September 4, 2012
I’ve commented in the past about the strange stories you can find on the internet about how Oracle works and how sometimes, no matter how daft those stories seem, there might be something behind them. Here’s one such remark I came across a little while ago – published in two or three places this year:
“An index that enforces referential integrity cannot be rebuilt online.”
There are a couple of problems with this statement – first, of course, indexes don’t enforce referential integrity, though they may help to enforce uniqueness, and the so-called “foreign key” index may avoid a locking issue related to referential integrity: that’s splitting hairs a little bit, though, and we can probably guess what the author means by “indexes enforcing referential integrity”. (An example demonstrating the problem would have been useful, though – it would have saved me from writing this note, and it might save other people from jumping to the wrong conclusion and taking unsuitable action as a consequence.)
So here’s a simple test (run under 22.214.171.124):
August 19, 2012
The Enkitec Extreme Exadata Expo (E4) event is over, but I still have plenty to say about the technology. The event was a great success, with plenty of interesting speakers and presentations. As I said in a previous note, I was particularly keen to hear Frits Hoogland’s comments on Exadata and OLTP, Richard Foote on Indexes, and Maria Colgan’s comments on how Oracle is making changes to the optimizer to understand Exadata a little better.
All three presentations were interesting – but Maria’s was possiby the most important (and entertaining). In particular she told us about two patches for 126.96.36.199, one current and one that is yet to be released (unfortunately I forgot to take note of the patch numbers – ed: but they’ve been supplied by readers’ comment below).
July 23, 2012
When I arrived in Edinburgh for the UKOUG Scotland conference a little while ago Thomas Presslie, one of the organisers and chairman of the committee, asked me if I’d sign up on the “unconference” timetable to give a ten-minute talk on something. So I decided to use Hybrid Columnar Compression to make a general point about choosing and testing features. For those of you who missed this excellent conference, here’s a brief note of what I said.
May 28, 2012
For those not familiar with Richard Foote’s extensive blog about indexes (and if you’re not you should be) – the title of this note is a blatant hi-jacking of his preferred naming mechanism.
It’s just a short note to remind myself (and my readers) that anything you know about Oracle, and anything published on the Internet – even by Oracle Corp. and its employees – is subject to change without notice (and sometimes without being noticed). I came across one such change today while reading the Expert Oracle Exadata book by Kerry Osborne, Randy Johnson and Tanel Poder. It was just a little throwaway comment on page 429 to the effect that:
In NOARCHIVELOG mode all bulk operations (such as INSERT, APPEND, index REBUILD and ALTER TABLE MOVE) are automatically nologging.
May 17, 2012
I was in a discussion recently about how to estimate the size of a bitmap index before you build it, and why it’s much harder to do this for bitmap indexes than it is for B-tree indexes. Here’s what I wrote in “Practical Oracle 8i”:
April 23, 2012
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.
April 19, 2012
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).