How do you trouble-shoot a problem ? It’s not an easy question to answer when posed in this generic fashion; but perhaps it’s possible to help people trouble-shoot by doing some examples in front of them. (This is why I’ve got so many statspack/AWR examples – just reading a collection of different problems helps you to get into the right mental habit.)
So here’s a problem someone sent me yesterday. Since it only took a few seconds to read, and included a complete build for a test case, with results, and since it clearly displayed an Oracle bug, I took a look at it. (I’ve trimmed the test a little bit, there were a few more queries leading up to the error):
create table person (id number(2), name varchar2(10)) ; insert into person values (1, 'Alpha') ; insert into person values (2, 'Bravo') ; insert into person values (3, 'Charlie') ; insert into person values (4, 'Charles') ; insert into person values (5, 'Delta') ; create or replace view vtest as select id, 'C' as letter from person where name like 'C%' ; select p.id, p.name, v.id, v.letter from person p left join vtest v on v.id = p.id order by p.id ;
The problem was that 10.2.0.4 and 126.96.36.199 gave different results – and the 188.8.131.52 result was clearly wrong. So the question was: “is there something broken with outer joins on views, or possibly ANSI outer joins?” (The ansswer to the last question is always “probably” as far as I’m concerned, but I wouldn’t turn that into a “yes” without checking first.) Here are the two results:
10.2.0.4: ======== ID NAME ID L ---------- ---------- ---------- - 1 Alpha 2 Bravo 3 Charlie 3 C 4 Charles 4 C 5 Delta 184.108.40.206 ======== ID NAME ID L ---------- ---------- ---------- - 1 Alpha C 2 Bravo C 3 Charlie 3 C 4 Charles 4 C 5 Delta C
Clearly the extra ‘C’s in the letter column are wrong.
So what to do next ? Knowing that Oracle transforms ANSI SQL before evaluating an execution plan I decided to run the 10053 trace. Sometimes you get lucky and see the “unparsed SQL” in this trace file, a representation (though not necessarily 100% exact) image of the statement for which Oracle will generate a plan. I was lucky, this was the unparsed SQL (cosmetically enhanced):
SELECT P.ID ID, P.NAME NAME, PERSON.ID ID, CASE WHEN PERSON.ROWID IS NOT NULL THEN 'C' ELSE NULL END LETTER FROM TEST_USER.PERSON P, TEST_USER.PERSON PERSON WHERE PERSON.ID (+) = P.ID AND PERSON.NAME(+) LIKE 'C%' ORDER BY P.ID ;
So I ran this query, and found that the same error appeared – so it wasn’t about ANSI or views. So possibly it’s something about the CASE statement and/or the ROWID in the CASE statement, which I tested by adding three extra columns to the query:
person.name, person.rowid, CASE WHEN PERSON.name IS NOT NULL THEN 'C' ELSE NULL END LETTER
With these extra columns I got the following results from the query:
ID NAME ID NAME ROWID L L ---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ------------------ - - 1 Alpha C 2 Bravo C 3 Charlie 3 Charlie AAAT7gAAEAAAAIjAAC C C 4 Charles 4 Charles AAAT7gAAEAAAAIjAAD C C 5 Delta C
So the CASE did the right thing with the person.name column, but the wrong thing with the person.rowid column.
Time to get onto MOS (Metalink).
I searched the bug database with the key words: case rowid null
This gave me 2,887 hits, so I added the expression (with the double quotes in place) “outer join”
This gave me 110 hits, so from the “product category” I pick “Oracle Database Products”
This gave me 80 hits, and the first one on the list was:
Bug 10269193: WRONG RESULTS WITH OUTER JOIN AND CASE EXPRESSION OPTIMIZATION CONTAINING ROWID
The text matched my problem, so job done – except it’s reported as not fixed until 12.1
This isn’t a nice bug, of course, because the particular problem can be generated automatically in the transformation of ANSI outer joins to Oracle outer joins, so you can’t just change the code.
In passing, it’s taken me 31 minutes to write this note – that’s 10 minutes longer than it took to pin down the bug, but I have to say I got lucky on two counts: first, that the “unparsed SQL” was available, second that my choice of key words for MOS got me to the bug so quickly (which is where I usually find I waste most time).