Oracle Scratchpad

January 19, 2022

Hash Aggregation – 2

Filed under: Execution plans,Infrastructure,Oracle,Performance,Tuning — Jonathan Lewis @ 12:03 pm GMT Jan 19,2022

In the note I wrote a couple of days ago about the way the optimizer switches from hash group by to sort group by if you add an order by X,Y clause to a query that has a group by X,Y I mentioned that this had been something I’d noticed about 15 years ago (shortly after Oracle introduced hash aggregation, in fact) but it was only the second of two details I’d noted when experimenting with this new operation. The first thing I’d noticed came from an even simpler example, and here’s a (cryptic) clue to what it was:


column operation_type format a24

select
        operation_type, count(*)
from
        V$sql_workarea
group by
        operation_type
order by
        operation_type
;

OPERATION_TYPE             COUNT(*)
------------------------ ----------
APPROXIMATE NDV                   1
BUFFER                          130
CONNECT-BY (SORT)                10
GROUP BY (HASH)                  12
GROUP BY (SORT)                 240
HASH-JOIN                       466
IDX MAINTENANCE (SORT)           39
LOAD WRITE BUFFERS               10
RANGE TQ COMPUTATION             13
RESULT CACHE                      4
SORT (v1)                        10
SORT (v2)                       147
WINDOW (SORT)                    35

The clue isn’t in the query, it’s in what’s missing from the result set, so here’s some code to create and query some data to make it easier to spot the anomaly:

rem
rem     Script:         hash_agg.sql
rem     Author:         Jonathan Lewis
rem     Dated:          Sept 2007
rem

create table t1
as
with generator as (
        select  rownum id
        from    dual
        connect by
                level <= 1e4 -- > comment to avoid wordpress format issue
)
select
        lpad(mod(rownum-1,1000),6)      small_vc_K,
        lpad(rownum-1,6)                small_vc_M
from
        generator       v1,
        generator       v2
where
        rownum <= 1e6 -- > comment to avoid wordpress format issue
;

set serveroutput off

prompt  ===========================
prompt  1000 distinct values (hash)
prompt  ===========================

select
        /*+ gather_plan_statistics 1000 */
        count(*)
from
        (
        select  /*+ no_merge */
                distinct small_vc_K
        from
                t1
        )
;

select * from table(dbms_xplan.display_cursor(null,null,'cost allstats last'));

prompt  ===========================
prompt  1000 distinct values (sort)
prompt  ===========================

select
        /*+ gather_plan_statistics 1000 */
        count(*)
from
        (
        select  /*+ no_merge no_use_hash_aggregation */
                distinct small_vc_K
        from
                t1
        )
;

select * from table(dbms_xplan.display_cursor(null,null,'cost allstats last'));

I’ve added the /*+ gather_plan_statistics */ hint to the query so that I can check on the rowsource execution stats and (particularly) the memory and/or temporary space used; and I’ve blocked hash aggregation in one of the two queries, so I expect to see a “hash unique” operation in the first query and a “sort unique” operation in the second. Here’s what I get from 19.11.0.0:


===========================
1000 distinct values (hash)
===========================

  COUNT(*)
----------
      1000

SQL_ID  1baadqgv02r6b, child number 0
-------------------------------------
select  /*+ gather_plan_statistics 1000 */  count(*) from  (  select
/*+ no_merge */   distinct small_vc_K  from   t1  )

Plan hash value: 171694178

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation            | Name | Starts | E-Rows | Cost (%CPU)| A-Rows |   A-Time   | Buffers | Reads  |  OMem |  1Mem | Used-Mem |
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT     |      |      1 |        |   765 (100)|      1 |00:00:00.07 |    2637 |   2632 |       |       |          |
|   1 |  SORT AGGREGATE      |      |      1 |      1 |            |      1 |00:00:00.07 |    2637 |   2632 |       |       |          |
|   2 |   VIEW               |      |      1 |   1000 |   765  (56)|   1000 |00:00:00.07 |    2637 |   2632 |       |       |          |
|   3 |    HASH UNIQUE       |      |      1 |   1000 |   765  (56)|   1000 |00:00:00.07 |    2637 |   2632 |  1889K|  1889K| 1417K (0)|
|   4 |     TABLE ACCESS FULL| T1   |      1 |   1000K|   405  (17)|   1000K|00:00:00.04 |    2637 |   2632 |       |       |          |
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

17 rows selected.

===========================
1000 distinct values (sort)
===========================

  COUNT(*)
----------
      1000

SQL_ID  a66rqhgw7a6dk, child number 0
-------------------------------------
select  /*+ gather_plan_statistics 1000 */  count(*) from  (  select
/*+ no_merge no_use_hash_aggregation */   distinct small_vc_K  from
t1  )

Plan hash value: 1750119335

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation            | Name | Starts | E-Rows | Cost (%CPU)| A-Rows |   A-Time   | Buffers |  OMem |  1Mem | Used-Mem |
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT     |      |      1 |        |   765 (100)|      1 |00:00:00.22 |    2637 |       |       |          |
|   1 |  SORT AGGREGATE      |      |      1 |      1 |            |      1 |00:00:00.22 |    2637 |       |       |          |
|   2 |   VIEW               |      |      1 |   1000 |   765  (56)|   1000 |00:00:00.22 |    2637 |       |       |          |
|   3 |    SORT UNIQUE       |      |      1 |   1000 |   765  (56)|   1000 |00:00:00.22 |    2637 | 48128 | 48128 |43008  (0)|
|   4 |     TABLE ACCESS FULL| T1   |      1 |   1000K|   405  (17)|   1000K|00:00:00.02 |    2637 |       |       |          |
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Look back at the summary of v$sql_workarea. Can you now spot something that might be missing? Since we’ve now got two execution plans with their sql_ids, let’s run a much more precise query against the view.

select
        sql_id, child_number, operation_id, operation_type ,
        total_executions, last_memory_used/1024 last_mem_kb
from
        v$sql_workarea
where
        sql_id in (
                '1baadqgv02r6b',
                'a66rqhgw7a6dk'
)
order by
        sql_id, child_number, operation_id
/

SQL_ID        CHILD_NUMBER OPERATION_ID OPERATION_TYPE       TOTAL_EXECUTIONS LAST_MEM_KB
------------- ------------ ------------ -------------------- ---------------- -----------
1baadqgv02r6b            0            3 GROUP BY (HASH)                     1       1,417
a66rqhgw7a6dk            0            3 GROUP BY (SORT)                     1          42

The first thing to note, of course, is that the sort aggregate at operation 1 doesn’t report a workarea at all; but this shouldn’t be a surprise, the operation is simply counting rows as they arrive, there’s no real sorting going on.

Operation 3 in both cases is the more interesting one. In the plan it’s reported as a “hash/sort unique” but the workarea operation has changed this to a “group by (hash/sort)”.  It’s a little detail that probably won’t matter to most people most of the time – but it’s the sort of thing that can waste a couple of hours of time when you’re trying to analyze a performance oddity.

And another thing …

You’ll have noticed, by the way, that the hash unique operation actually demanded far more memory than the sort unique operation; 1.4MB compared to 42KB. In a large production system this may be fairly irrelevant, especially since the discrepancy tends to disappear for higher volumes, and hardly matters if the operation spills to disc. However, if you have a large number of processes doing a lot of small queries using hash aggregation you may find that cumulatively they use up an unexpected fraction of your pga_aggregate_target.

There is some scope (with the usual “confirm with Oracle support” caveat) for modifying this behaviour with a fix_control:

16792882    QKSFM_COMPILATION_16792882  Cardinality threshold for hash aggregation(raised to power of 10)

alter session set "_fix_control"='16792882:3';

The default value is 0, the maximum value seems to be 3 and the description about raising to power of 10 seems to be the wrong way round, but I haven’t done any careful testing. When I set the value to 3 the hash unique with an estimated output of 1,000 switched to a sort unique.(hence my suggestion about 10N rather than N10).

Footnote

In the previous note I pointed out that Oracle would use a single sort group by operation rather than a consecutive hash group by / sort order by pair of operations. This simpler example helps to explain why. If you check the CBO trace files for the two you can check the costs of the inline aggregate view.

From a 19.11.0.0 trace file here are two costing fragments for the hash group by strategy; the first bit is the cost of the tablescan that acquires the rows (operation 4) the second is the final cost of the inline view / query block:


  Best:: AccessPath: TableScan
         Cost: 404.639881  Degree: 1  Resp: 404.639881  Card: 1000000.000000  Bytes: 0.000000

Final cost for query block SEL$2 (#2) - All Rows Plan:
  Best join order: 1
  Cost: 764.843155  Degree: 1  Card: 1000000.000000  Bytes: 7000000.000000
  Resc: 764.843155  Resc_io: 337.000000  Resc_cpu: 1069607888
  Resp: 764.843155  Resp_io: 337.000000  Resc_cpu: 1069607888

I won’t show you the equivalent extracts for the example where I blocked hash aggregation because the numbers are identical. So there’s no way that Oracle will want to do hash group by followed by sort order by, when it can do just a single sort group by that costs exactly the same as the hash group by operation alone. This is a shame, and a little ironic because when Oracle Corp introduce hash aggregation they made a bit of a fuss about how much more efficient it was than sorting- but it looks like no-one told the optimizer about this.

January 1, 2022

Happy New Year

Filed under: 12c,Bugs,CBO,Execution plans,Oracle,Transformations — Jonathan Lewis @ 12:01 am GMT Jan 1,2022

Here’s an entertaining little bug that appeared on the oracle-l list server just in time to end one year and start another in a suitable way. The thread starts with an offering from Matthias Rogel (shown below with some cosmetic changes) to be run on Oracle 12.2.0.1:

rem
rem     Script:         group_by_bug.sql
rem     Author:         Mathias Rogel  / Jonathan Lewis
rem     Dated:          Dec 2021
rem
rem     Last tested 
rem             19.11.0.0       Fixed
rem             12.2.0.1        Fail
rem

create table t as (
        select date'2021-12-30' d from dual 
        union all 
        select date'2021-12-31'   from dual
);

select extract(year from d), count(*) from t group by extract(year from d);

alter table t add primary key(d);
select extract(year from d), count(*) from t group by extract(year from d);

This doesn’t look particularly exciting – I’ve created a table with two rows holding two dates in the same year, then counted the number of rows for “each” year before and after adding a primary key on the date column. Pause briefly to think about what the results might look like …

Table created.


EXTRACT(YEARFROMD)   COUNT(*)
------------------ ----------
              2021          2

1 row selected.


Table altered.


EXTRACT(YEARFROMD)   COUNT(*)
------------------ ----------
              2021          1
              2021          1

2 rows selected.

After adding the primary key (with its unique index) the result changes to something that is clearly (for this very simple data set) wrong.

At this point I offered a hypothetical reason why Oracle might be producing the wrong result, but Tim Gorman was one step ahead of me and supplied a bug reference from MOS: Wrong Result Using GROUP BY with EXTRACT Function Against DATE (Doc ID 2629968.1)

The MOS document describes this as a bug introduced in the upgrade from 12.1.0.2 to 12.2.0.1, demonstrates the error with the extract() function applied to a date, and supplies three possible workarounds (but not the workaround or explanation I supplied in my response on oracle-l).

The document also pointed to a further bug note that described how the problem also appeared with the combination of the to_char() function applied to a date column with a unique indexes: 12.2 Wrong Results from Query with GROUP BY Clause Based on To_char Function of Unique Index Columns (Doc ID 2294763.1) with a further suggestion for applying a patch (see MOS Doc ID: 26588069.8) or upgrading to 18.1 (where the bug has been fixed).

Matthias Rogel supplied a follow-up demonstrating the problem with to_char(), which prompted me to create an example showing that it wasn’t just about dates – which I’ve tidied up below (reminder, all results on this page are from 12.2.0.1):

create  table t1 as 
select  round(rownum/10,1) n1 
from    all_objects 
where   rownum <= 10
;


select n1 from t1 order by n1;
select n1, count(*) from t1 group by n1 order by n1;

column nch format A3

select to_char(n1,'99') nch, count(*) from t1 group by to_char(n1,'99') order by 1,2;

select * from table(dbms_xplan.display_cursor(format =>'outline'));

alter table t1 add constraint t1_pk primary key(n1);
select to_char(n1,'99') nch , count(*) from t1 group by to_char(n1,'99') order by 1,2;

select * from table(dbms_xplan.display_cursor(format =>'outline'));

As before I’ve created a simple table, and populated it with a few rows of data. THe first two queries are there to show you the data (0.1 to 1.0 by steps of 0.1), and show that aggregating the raw data produces one row per value.

I’ve then repeated the aggregation query, but converted each value to a character string that effectively rounds the value to an integer. Here are the two sets of results, before and after adding the primary key.

NCH   COUNT(*)
--- ----------
  0          4
  1          6

2 rows selected.

Table altered.

NCH   COUNT(*)
--- ----------
  0          1
  0          1
  0          1
  0          1
  1          1
  1          1
  1          1
  1          1
  1          1
  1          1

10 rows selected.

Again, the introduction of the primary key constraint on the column results in wrong results. In this example, though I’ve pulled the execution plans from memory along with their outlines, and this is what the two plans look like.

SQL_ID  gt5a14jb0g4n0, child number 0
-------------------------------------
select to_char(n1,'99') nch, count(*) from t1 group by to_char(n1,'99')
order by 1,2

Plan hash value: 2808104874

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation           | Name | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     |
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT    |      |       |       |     4 (100)|          |
|   1 |  SORT ORDER BY      |      |    10 |    30 |     4  (50)| 00:00:01 |
|   2 |   HASH GROUP BY     |      |    10 |    30 |     4  (50)| 00:00:01 |
|   3 |    TABLE ACCESS FULL| T1   |    10 |    30 |     2   (0)| 00:00:01 |
----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Outline Data
-------------

  /*+
      BEGIN_OUTLINE_DATA
      IGNORE_OPTIM_EMBEDDED_HINTS
      OPTIMIZER_FEATURES_ENABLE('12.2.0.1')
      DB_VERSION('12.2.0.1')
      ALL_ROWS
      OUTLINE_LEAF(@"SEL$1")
      FULL(@"SEL$1" "T1"@"SEL$1")
      USE_HASH_AGGREGATION(@"SEL$1")
      END_OUTLINE_DATA
  */


SQL_ID  4fxxtmrh8cpzp, child number 0
-------------------------------------
select to_char(n1,'99') nch , count(*) from t1 group by
to_char(n1,'99') order by 1,2

Plan hash value: 1252675504

--------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation        | Name  | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     |
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT |       |       |       |     2 (100)|          |
|   1 |  SORT ORDER BY   |       |    10 |    30 |     2  (50)| 00:00:01 |
|   2 |   INDEX FULL SCAN| T1_PK |    10 |    30 |     1   (0)| 00:00:01 |
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Outline Data
-------------

  /*+
      BEGIN_OUTLINE_DATA
      IGNORE_OPTIM_EMBEDDED_HINTS
      OPTIMIZER_FEATURES_ENABLE('12.2.0.1')
      DB_VERSION('12.2.0.1')
      ALL_ROWS
      OUTLINE_LEAF(@"SEL$9BB7A81A")
      ELIM_GROUPBY(@"SEL$47952E7A")
      OUTLINE(@"SEL$47952E7A")
      ELIM_GROUPBY(@"SEL$1")
      OUTLINE(@"SEL$1")
      INDEX(@"SEL$9BB7A81A" "T1"@"SEL$1" ("T1"."N1"))
      END_OUTLINE_DATA
  */

In the absence of the primary key (index) Oracle does a full tablescan, then hash group by, then sort order by. When the primary key is put in place Oracle does an index full scan (which is legal because the index must contain all the data thanks to the not null declaration inherent in a primary key) and a sort order by without any group by.

You might wonder if the problem arises because Oracle assumes the indexed path somehow means the aggregation doesn’t apply – but with a /*+ full(t1) */ hint in place and a full tablescan in the plan the aggregation step is still missing — and if you look at the Outline Data section of the plan you can see that this is explicitly demanded by the hint(s): /*+ elim_groupby() */

My hypothesis (before I read the bug note) was that the optimizer had picked up the primary key declaration and seen that n1 was unique and therefore allowed the aggregating group by to be eliminated, but failed to “notice” that the to_char() – or extract() in the date example – meant that the assumption of uniqueness was no longer valid. To work around this problem very locally I simply added the hint /*+ no_elim_groupby */ (with no query block specified) to the query – and got the correct results.

Footnote

There is an interesting side note to this example (though not one that I would want to see used in a production system – this comment is for interest only). If you look at the Outline Data for the plan when there was no primary key you’ll notice that the only outline_leaf() is named sel$1 whereas in the plan with the primary key sel$1 appears as an outline() and the only outline_leaf() is named sel$9bb7a81a. As “outline leaf” is a query block that was used by the optimizer in constructing the final plan, while an “outline” is an intermediate query block that was examined before being transformed into another query block. So this difference in the Outline Data tells us that the problem appears thanks to a transformation that did not happen when there was no index – so what would our execution plan look like if the only hint we used in the query was /*+ outline_leaf(@sel$1) */ ?

SQL_ID  apgu34hc3ap7f, child number 0
-------------------------------------
select /*+ outline_leaf(@sel$1) */ to_char(n1,'99') nch , count(*) from
t1 group by to_char(n1,'99') order by 1,2

Plan hash value: 3280011052

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation         | Name  | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     |
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT  |       |       |       |     3 (100)|          |
|   1 |  SORT ORDER BY    |       |    10 |    30 |     3  (67)| 00:00:01 |
|   2 |   HASH GROUP BY   |       |    10 |    30 |     3  (67)| 00:00:01 |
|   3 |    INDEX FULL SCAN| T1_PK |    10 |    30 |     1   (0)| 00:00:01 |
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Outline Data
-------------

  /*+
      BEGIN_OUTLINE_DATA
      IGNORE_OPTIM_EMBEDDED_HINTS
      OPTIMIZER_FEATURES_ENABLE('12.2.0.1')
      DB_VERSION('12.2.0.1')
      ALL_ROWS
      OUTLINE_LEAF(@"SEL$1")
      INDEX(@"SEL$1" "T1"@"SEL$1" ("T1"."N1"))
      USE_HASH_AGGREGATION(@"SEL$1")
      END_OUTLINE_DATA
  */


This posting was scheduled to launch at 00:01 GMT on 1st January 2022. Happy new year – just be careful that you don’t try to extract() or to_char() it if you’re running 12.2.0.1 unless you’ve applied patch 26588069.

December 22, 2021

Explain Plan

Filed under: Execution plans,Oracle,Troubleshooting — Jonathan Lewis @ 1:26 pm GMT Dec 22,2021

Here’s a little example that appeared on the Oracle database forum a few years ago (2013, 11.2.0.3 – it’s another of my drafts that waited a long time for completion) which captures a key problem with execution plans:

you need to make sure you look at the right one.

We have the tkprof output from an SQL statement that has been traced because it needs to go faster.


select clndr_id , count(*)
from
 task where (clndr_id = :"SYS_B_0") group by clndr_id
union
select clndr_id , count(*) from project where (clndr_id = :"SYS_B_1") group by clndr_id

call     count       cpu    elapsed       disk      query    current        rows
------- ------  -------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ----------  ----------
Parse        1      0.01       0.00          0          0          0           0
Execute      1      0.01       0.00          0          0          0           0
Fetch        2     53.32     612.03      81650      58920          0           2
------- ------  -------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ----------  ----------
total        4     53.34     612.04      81650      58920          0           2

Misses in library cache during parse: 1
Optimizer mode: ALL_ROWS
Parsing user id: 34  (PX)
Number of plan statistics captured: 1


Rows (1st) Rows (avg) Rows (max)  Row Source Operation
---------- ---------- ----------  ---------------------------------------------------
         2          2          2  SORT UNIQUE (cr=58923 pr=81650 pw=22868 time=113329109 us cost=58277 size=24 card=2)
         2          2          2   UNION-ALL  (cr=58923 pr=81650 pw=22868 time=113329001 us)
         1          1          1    SORT GROUP BY NOSORT (cr=58330 pr=81070 pw=22868 time=104312437 us cost=58128 size=7 card=1)
   5589739    5589739    5589739     VIEW  index$_join$_003 (cr=58330 pr=81070 pw=22868 time=619784236 us cost=57240 size=38875249 card=5553607)
   5589739    5589739    5589739      HASH JOIN  (cr=58330 pr=81070 pw=22868 time=617373467 us)
   5590158    5590158    5590158       INDEX RANGE SCAN NDX_TASK_CALENDAR (cr=21676 pr=21676 pw=0 time=113637058 us cost=11057 size=38875249 card=5553607)(object id 24749)
   6673774    6673774    6673774       INDEX FAST FULL SCAN NDX_TASK_PROJ_RSRC (cr=36651 pr=36526 pw=0 time=213370625 us cost=21921 size=38875249 card=5553607)(object id 217274)
         1          1          1    SORT GROUP BY NOSORT (cr=593 pr=580 pw=0 time=9016527 us cost=149 size=17 card=1)
    136390     136390     136390     INDEX FAST FULL SCAN NDX_PROJECT_CALENDAR (cr=593 pr=580 pw=0 time=165434 us cost=132 size=2315876 card=136228)(object id 154409)


Rows     Execution Plan
-------  ---------------------------------------------------
      0  SELECT STATEMENT   MODE: ALL_ROWS
      2   SORT (UNIQUE)
      2    UNION-ALL
      1     SORT (GROUP BY NOSORT)
5589739      TABLE ACCESS   MODE: ANALYZED (BY INDEX ROWID) OF 'TASK' (TABLE)
5589739       INDEX   MODE: ANALYZED (RANGE SCAN) OF 'NDX_TASK_CALENDAR' (INDEX)
5590158     SORT (GROUP BY NOSORT)
6673774      INDEX   MODE: ANALYZED (RANGE SCAN) OF 'NDX_PROJECT_CALENDAR' (INDEX)

One of the first things you should notice from the tkprof output is that the “Rowsource Operation” section and the “Execution Plan” section do not match. Remember that tkprof is simply calling explain plan when it generates the “Execution Plan” section of the output and has no information about the type and value of bind variables, so it’s easy for it to generate a plan that didn’t happen. (There are other reasons why the two sets of output might differ – but this is the commonest one.)

Another thing you might note in passing is that the system has cursor_sharing set to force or similar – a detail you can infer from the bind variable names having the form :SYS_B_nnn. This, alone, might be enough to convince you to ignore the Execution Plan because of its potential to mislead.

Despite the tendancy to mislead there is (in this case) a very important clue in the Execution Plan. In lines 2 and 3 we can see the “sort unique” and “union all” that the optimizer has used to implement the UNION operator in the query. Then we see that the “union all” has two “sort group by (nosort)” children, one for each of the aggregate query blocks – the “nosort” in both cases because the query blocks ensure that only a single value of clndr_id is selected in each case anyway.

The interesting thing in the Execution Plan is that the range scan of ndx_task_calendar in the first query block tells us that the optimizer thinks that all the information we need can be found in that index. So why does the Rowsource Operation tell us that at run-time the optimizer thought it needed to include the ndx_task_proj_rsrc index in an index join as well?

Assuming we haven’t found a bug the answer must be that there is another predicate hidden somewhere behind the query. There may be a security predicate, or it may simply be that task is actually a view with a definition like “select {list of columns} from task_t where {some predicate}”.

The mismatch between Execution Plan and Rowsource Operation gives us a clue, but the output from tkprof (and even the underlying trace file) is incomplete – we need to see what predicates Oracle has used to execute this query, and where it used them. So here’s the plan for the query pulled from memory by a call to dbms_xplan.display_cursor():

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation                 | Name                 | E-Rows |  OMem |  1Mem | Used-Mem | Used-Tmp|
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT          |                      |        |       |       |          |         |
|   1 |  SORT UNIQUE              |                      |      2 |  2048 |  2048 | 2048  (0)|         |
|   2 |   UNION-ALL               |                      |        |       |       |          |         |
|   3 |    SORT GROUP BY NOSORT   |                      |      1 |       |       |          |         |
|*  4 |     VIEW                  | index$_join$_003     |   5553K|       |       |          |         |
|*  5 |      HASH JOIN            |                      |        |   207M|    11M|  176M (1)|     181K|
|*  6 |       INDEX RANGE SCAN    | NDX_TASK_CALENDAR    |   5553K|       |       |          |         |
|*  7 |       INDEX FAST FULL SCAN| NDX_TASK_PROJ_RSRC   |   5553K|       |       |          |         |
|   8 |    SORT GROUP BY NOSORT   |                      |      1 |       |                  |         |
|*  9 |     INDEX FAST FULL SCAN  | NDX_PROJECT_CALENDAR |    136K|       |       |          |         |
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
---------------------------------------------------
   4 - filter("CLNDR_ID"=:SYS_B_0)
   5 - access(ROWID=ROWID)
   6 - access("CLNDR_ID"=:SYS_B_0)
   7 - filter("DELETE_SESSION_ID" IS NULL)
   9 - filter(("CLNDR_ID"=:SYS_B_1 AND "DELETE_SESSION_ID" IS NULL))

And there in the Predicate Information section we see two extra predicates “delete_session_id is null” – one on each table. Presumably the index ndx_project_calendar includes this column, but ndx_task_calendar does not – hence the need for the index join.

Given that the predicate has been attached to both tables, it seems fairly likely (from an outsider’s perspecetive) that this is row-level security (RLS / FGAC / VPD) in place. Regardless of whether it is RLS, or just a view layer, it looks like the only options to improve the performance of this query is to persuade it into using a full tablescan, or to find an alternatice index access path (which might mean adding delete_session_id to the index it’s already using – and checking whether this change would have any nasty side effects).

Footnote

A potentially significant, but easy to miss detail is the “Misses in library cache during parse:” – this statement had to be “hard parsed” (i.e. optimised) before execution; if you see a trace file where a statement has executed and parsed many times and the Misses is greater than one then it’s worth asking yourself why that might be.

December 1, 2021

Best Practice

Filed under: Execution plans,Oracle,Performance — Jonathan Lewis @ 7:08 pm GMT Dec 1,2021

This showed up recently on the Oracle Developer Forum.

For a while I’m questioning myself about a best practice query for performance.

I’ve 2 tables: EMPLOYEES and DEPARTMENTS. The EMPLOYEES table can contains millions of records. Which query is better for performance ?

Select t1.emp_id, t1.emp_name, t2.dept_name
from EMPLOYEES t1, DEPARTMENTS t2
where t1.dept_id = t2.dept_id
order by t1.emp_name
Select emp_id, emp_name, (select mypackage.get_dept_name(dept_id) from dual) as dept_name
from EMPLOYEES
order by emp_name

The nice thing thing about this question is the correct use of English grammar; it uses “better” rather than “best” (the former is correct when comparing two things, the latter requires at least three things to be compared). On the down-side, any suggestion that a single pattern might be “best practice” for performance should be viewed with great caution; it’s far too easy for the less experience to translate “this is a good idea for this query” as “you should always do this”. At best it’s possible to identify patterns at the edges of style where you could say either: “this usually works well enough” or “you shouldn’t do this unless it’s really necessary”.

So I’m going to ignore the generic question and pretend that the question was supposed to be about the performance of the specific case; and then I’m going to complain that the question is badly posed because it omits several pieces of information that are likely to be relevant.

Some points to consider as background before looking too closely into performance:

  • We might expect that there is a referential integrity (RI) constraint between departments and employees. We might also expect to see emp.dept_id declared as not null – if it’s not then do we really want employees who are not yet assigned to a department to disappear from the report. Maybe the join should be an outer join.
  • How many departments are there. If there are millions of employees might there be thousands, or even tens of thousands, of departments? That’s going to make a difference to performance and (depending on strategy) to the consistency of the performance.
  • How important is it to squeeze the last bit of performance from this query. An Oracle database can perform perfectly well with millions of rows but how rapidly can the network transfer the rows from the database to the client, and how well is the client process going to deal with such a large result set. (Why does the client want to run a query that returns millions of rows – is the client then going to do something, after a long and tedious data transfer, that should have been done in 1/100th of the time in the database to supply a much smaller result set).
  • How competent are the people who may be required to support the query once it has gone into production. Should you follow the principle of preferring simplicity to optimum performance. What’s the difference in (database) performance between the better performance and the one that’s easier to understand?
  • Is there any reason why the query must not use parallel execution. Depending on the coding strategy adopted it’s possible that the slower serial query becomes the faster parallel query, and parallelism hasn’t even been mentioned.
  • Do you think that the version of Oracle may change the relative performance of different strategies for the query? (The correct answer is “yes”, and the query that uses a function call and scalar subquery is the one that’s more likely to be affected by future tweaks to the Oracle internal processing.)

So let’s look at specifics.

I’m going to ignore the option for using of a PL/SQL function to generate a department name from an id. Possibly the hope that using it would reduce the number of times a piece of SQL was executed against the dept table; but you shouldn’t use the public result cache for such a lightweight call, particularly when the session’s scalar subquery cache would probably get all the benefit that was available anyway.

Assume, then, that the referential integrity and not null declarations are in place, and that the number of departments is vaguely commensurate with the millions of employees. I’ve set up a little test with 50,000 rows in an “emp” table and 200 rows in a “dept” table just to have some concrete results to prompt a few thoughts.

Given the nature of the query (no predicates to limit data selected) the simple join with “order by” probably has only one sensible path:

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation           | Name | Starts | E-Rows | A-Rows |   A-Time   | Buffers |  OMem |  1Mem | Used-Mem |
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT    |      |      1 |        |  50000 |00:00:00.03 |     953 |       |       |          |
|   1 |  SORT ORDER BY      |      |      1 |  50000 |  50000 |00:00:00.03 |     953 |  3738K|   834K| 3322K (0)|
|*  2 |   HASH JOIN         |      |      1 |  50000 |  50000 |00:00:00.01 |     953 |  1335K|  1335K| 1566K (0)|
|   3 |    TABLE ACCESS FULL| DEPT |      1 |    200 |    200 |00:00:00.01 |       5 |       |       |          |
|   4 |    TABLE ACCESS FULL| EMP  |      1 |  50000 |  50000 |00:00:00.01 |     948 |       |       |          |
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
---------------------------------------------------
   2 - access("DEPT"."ID"="EMP"."DEPT_ID")

I’ve run this with with rowsource execution stats enabled so that I can highlight details that might suggest ways to save resources like CPU or memory consumption. This gives rise to two thoughts:

First, would the subquery method do anything to reduce the volume of data sorted – i.e. would the subquery run late; secondly, even if it didn’t run late might it reduce the work needed to translate department ids into department names.

Here’s a version of the query using a scalar subquery with the resulting execution plan:

select 
        emp.id, emp.ename,
        (select dept.dept_name from dept where dept.id = emp.dept_id) dept_name
from 
        emp
order by
         emp.ename
/

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation                   | Name    | Starts | E-Rows | A-Rows |   A-Time   | Buffers |  OMem |  1Mem | Used-Mem |
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT            |         |      1 |        |  50000 |00:00:00.05 |    5884 |       |       |          |
|   1 |  TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID| DEPT    |   4931 |      1 |   4931 |00:00:00.01 |    4935 |       |       |          |
|*  2 |   INDEX UNIQUE SCAN         | DEPT_PK |   4931 |      1 |   4931 |00:00:00.01 |       4 |       |       |          |
|   3 |  SORT ORDER BY              |         |      1 |  50000 |  50000 |00:00:00.05 |    5884 |  3738K|   834K| 3322K (0)|
|   4 |   TABLE ACCESS FULL         | EMP     |      1 |  50000 |  50000 |00:00:00.01 |     949 |       |       |          |
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
---------------------------------------------------
   2 - access("DEPT"."ID"=:B1)

The plan for any query with scalar subqueries in the select list reports the subqueries at the same level as the main query and before the query – so we can see here that the scalar subquery has been executed only 4,931 times, rather than the full 50,000, and that’s the benefit of scalar subquery caching. The execution count is in the thousands rather than being 200 (number of departments) because the cache is rather small and when hash values for department ids collide hashing only the first into the cache is retained (the cache doesn’t use linked lists to handle collisions).

There’s some ambiguity here, though. We can see that the Buffers statistic at operation 3 (the Sort) matches the total for the query, and consists of the value for the table scan plus the value for the subquery execution (5884 = 4935 + 949, but don’t ask me why the emp tablescan reports 949 buffers instead of the 948 previously reported) so we can’t easily tell whether Oracle executed the subquery before or after it had sorted the data from the tablescan. This could make a difference to performance since including the department name in the data to be sorted could mean using a lot more memory (and more I/O if the larger volume resulted in the sort spilling to disc). We can do a quick check with a simplified query – selecting only the department id from emp, rather than translating id to name.

select 
        emp.id, emp.ename,
        emp.dept_id
--      (select dept.dept_name from dept where dept.id = emp.dept_id) dept_name
from 
        emp
order by
         emp.ename
/

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation          | Name | Starts | E-Rows | A-Rows |   A-Time   | Buffers |  OMem |  1Mem | Used-Mem |
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT   |      |      1 |        |  50000 |00:00:00.02 |     948 |       |       |          |
|   1 |  SORT ORDER BY     |      |      1 |  50000 |  50000 |00:00:00.02 |     948 |  2746K|   746K| 2440K (0)|
|   2 |   TABLE ACCESS FULL| EMP  |      1 |  50000 |  50000 |00:00:00.01 |     948 |       |       |          |
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


With this simpler query the Used-Mem for the sort operation drops from 3322K to 2440K so Oracle must have been using the scalar subquery to fetch the department name before sorting. (I don’t know why Buffers for the tablescan has dropped to 948 again.)

So maybe it would be worth rewriting the query to sort the “narrower” data set before calling the scalar subquery:

select
        /*+ 
                qb_name(main) 
                no_merge(@inline)
                no_eliminate_oby(@inline)
        */
        v1.id, v1.ename, 
        (select /*+ qb_name(ssq) */ dept.dept_name from dept where dept.id = v1.dept_id) dept_name
from    (
        select 
                /*+ qb_name(inline) */
                emp.id, emp.ename, emp.dept_id
        from 
                emp
        order by
                emp.ename
        )       v1
/

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation                   | Name    | Starts | E-Rows | A-Rows |   A-Time   | Buffers |  OMem |  1Mem | Used-Mem |
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT            |         |      1 |        |  50000 |00:00:00.03 |     949 |       |       |          |
|   1 |  TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID| DEPT    |   4909 |      1 |   4909 |00:00:00.01 |    5112 |       |       |          |
|*  2 |   INDEX UNIQUE SCAN         | DEPT_PK |   4909 |      1 |   4909 |00:00:00.01 |     203 |       |       |          |
|   3 |  VIEW                       |         |      1 |  50000 |  50000 |00:00:00.03 |     949 |       |       |          |
|   4 |   SORT ORDER BY             |         |      1 |  50000 |  50000 |00:00:00.02 |     949 |  2746K|   746K| 2440K (0)|
|   5 |    TABLE ACCESS FULL        | EMP     |      1 |  50000 |  50000 |00:00:00.01 |     949 |       |       |          |
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
---------------------------------------------------
   2 - access("DEPT"."ID"=:B1)

As you can see, my execution plan now has a View operation telling us that the Sort operation completed inside a non-mergable view; and we can see that the Buffers and the Used-Mem statistics for the Sort operation has stayed at the 948(+1 again) buffers and 2440K of the simpler query. Of course, the need for the data (i.e. sorted rowsource) to pass up the plan through the view operation means a little extra CPU at that point before we start executing the subquery. By a lucky fluke the hash collisions on the scalar subquery cache have dropped slightly because the data department ids are arriving in a different order – this can be a good thing but, as you will have seen in the linked article above on filter subqueries, the change of order could have been a disaster. (More articles on scalar subquery caching – and deterministic functions – linked to from this URL)

You might also note the odd little glitch in the reporting – the final figure for Buffers has “lost” the result from the scalar subquery. (And this was on 19.11.0.0 – so it’s not an old error.)

So it seems we can do better than either of the options supplied in the original post. But the important question then is whether we should adopt that strategy or not. And the answer in many cases will be “probably not, unless it’s in very special circumstances and carefully documented”.

I’ve used a no_merge() hint and the undocumented no_eliminate_oby() hint; and that happens to have done what I wanted in the release of Oracle I was using; but in principle the optimizer could unnest the “@qb_name(ssq)” scalar subquery and produce a join between the “@qb_name(inline)” inline view and the unnested table – and that might cause the ordered data to become disordered (even though the sort order by operation would still be taking place). That’s a little unlikely, of course, but if it did happen someone would have to notice and deal with an urgent rewrite. (Strangely the reason why the optimizer doesn’t do this unnest in 19c and 21c is because – according to the 10053 trace file – the subquery “might return more than one row”, even though it’s selecting by equality on primary key!)

Summary Observations

Resist the temptation to ask for “best practices” for writing performant SQL. There are no immediately practical answers to the question (though there may be a couple of suggestions about how not to write your SQL).

You don’t necessarily want to put the more performant query into production.

Footnote

If you want to play around with this model, here’s the script I used to generate the data and run the test:

Click here to expand/contract the text
rem
rem     Script:         emp_dept_optimise.sql
rem     Author:         Jonathan Lewis
rem     Dated:          Sept 2021
rem     Purpose:        
rem
rem     Last tested 
rem             19.11.0.0
rem

define m_dept=200

drop table emp;
drop table dept;

execute dbms_randoms.seed(0)

create table dept as
select 
        rownum id, 
        lpad(dbms_random.value,20) dept_name, 
        rpad('x',100) padding
from
        all_objects
where 
        rownum &amp;lt;= &amp;amp;m_dept
/

alter table dept add constraint dept_pk primary key(id);

create table emp as
select 
        rownum id, 
        1 + mod(rownum-1,&amp;amp;m_dept) dept_id,
        lpad(dbms_random.value,20) ename, 
        rpad('x',100) padding
from
        all_objects
where
        rownum &amp;lt;= 50000
/

alter table emp add constraint emp_pk primary key (id)
/

alter table emp add constraint emp_fk_dept foreign key(dept_id) references dept
/

set linesize 180
set arraysize 250

set termout off
set serveroutput off

alter session set statistics_level = all;

select 
        emp.id, emp.ename,
        emp.dept_id
--      (select dept.dept_name from dept where dept.id = emp.dept_id) dept_name
from 
        emp
order by
         emp.ename
/

spool emp_dept_optimise.lst

prompt  ============================================
prompt  For a baseline on memory, query with dept_id
prompt  ============================================

select * from table(dbms_xplan.display_cursor(format=&amp;gt;'allstats last'));
spool off

select 
        emp.id, emp.ename,
        dept.dept_name
from 
        emp,
        dept
where
        dept.id = emp.dept_id
order by
         emp.ename
/

spool emp_dept_optimise.lst append

prompt  ======================================
prompt  For a simple join between emp and dept
prompt  ======================================

select * from table(dbms_xplan.display_cursor(format=&amp;gt;'allstats last projection'));
spool off

select 
        emp.id, emp.ename,
--      emp.dept_id
        (select dept.dept_name from dept where dept.id = emp.dept_id) dept_name
from 
        emp
order by
         emp.ename
/

spool emp_dept_optimise.lst append

prompt  ==============================================
prompt  Now switching to the dept_name scalar subquery
prompt  ==============================================

select * from table(dbms_xplan.display_cursor(format=&amp;gt;'allstats last'));
spool off



select
        /*+ 
                qb_name(main) 
                no_merge(@inline)
                no_eliminate_oby(@inline)
        */
        v1.id, v1.ename, 
        (select /*+ qb_name(ssq) */ dept.dept_name from dept where dept.id = v1.dept_id) dept_name
from    (
        select 
                /*+ qb_name(inline) */
                emp.id, emp.ename, emp.dept_id
        from 
                emp
        order by
                emp.ename
        )       v1
/

spool emp_dept_optimise.lst append

prompt  ==================================================
prompt  Now with the dept_name scalar subquery 'postponed'
prompt  ==================================================

select * from table(dbms_xplan.display_cursor(format=&amp;gt;'allstats last outline'));
spool off

set serveroutput on
alter session set statistics_level = typical;

November 12, 2021

Index Conspiracy

Filed under: Execution plans,humour,Indexing,Oracle — Jonathan Lewis @ 3:28 pm GMT Nov 12,2021

A little light entertainment – but with a tiny bit of information that’s worth knowing – for a Friday evening. This is a demo I used at IOUG 2003 to warm the audience up before the main event.

We start with a table and two indexes – and a clunky little query just to show the index names and object ids.

rem
rem     Script:         index_conspiracy_2.sql
rem     Author:         Jonathan Lewis
rem     Dated:          Nov 2003 / Nov 2021
rem     Purpose:        Demonstrate the anti-microsoft conspiracy.
rem

create table t1 
as
select 
        rownum          n1, 
        rownum          n2,
        rpad('x',10)    small_vc,
        rpad('x',100)   padding
from
        all_objects
where
        rownum <= 3000
;

create index first_col_index on t1(n1);
create index microsoft_index on t1(n2);

select object_id, table_name, index_name
from
        (
        select  object_id, object_name
        from    user_objects
        where   object_type = 'INDEX'
        )       v1,
        (
        select table_name, index_name
        from   user_indexes
        where  table_name = 'T1'
        )       v2
where
        object_name = index_name
order by 
        object_id
;

You’ll notice that the n1 and n2 columns are identical and that means the corresponding indexes will have identical content, statistics and costs. So let’s use autotrace to check the plans for a few queries – we won’t be using bind variables so it’s a good bet that the plans from autotrace would be what we’d get if we actually ran the queries and pulled the plans from memory:

set autotrace traceonly explain

prompt  ==========================================
prompt  Initial Behaviour (uses "first_col_index")
prompt  ==========================================

select
        *
from    t1
where   n1 = 44
and     n2 = 44
;

At the time of the IOUG conference there was quite a lot of antipathy between Microsoft and Oracle, so it didn’t surprise anyone that the query ignored the index called “microsoft_index” and used the following plan:

Execution Plan
----------------------------------------------------------
Plan hash value: 4128733246

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation                           | Name            | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     |
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT                    |                 |     1 |   120 |     2   (0)| 00:00:01 |
|*  1 |  TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID BATCHED| T1              |     1 |   120 |     2   (0)| 00:00:01 |
|*  2 |   INDEX RANGE SCAN                  | FIRST_COL_INDEX |     1 |       |     1   (0)| 00:00:01 |
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
---------------------------------------------------

   1 - filter("N2"=44)
   2 - access("N1"=44)

We can demonstrate that the microsoft_index was an appropriate index for this query by renaming it, of course, and I’ll leave it as an exercise for the user to see what happens as we go through several different names:

prompt  ============================================
prompt  Renaming "microsoft_index" to "better_index"
prompt  ============================================

alter index microsoft_index rename to better_index;

select
        *
from    t1
where   n1 = 44
and     n2 = 44
;

prompt  ============================================
prompt  Renaming "better_index" to "microsoft_index"
prompt  ============================================

alter index better_index rename to microsoft_index ;

select
        *
from    t1
where   n1 = 44
and     n2 = 44
;

prompt  =============================================
prompt  Renaming "microsoft_index" to "ellison_index"
prompt  =============================================

alter index microsoft_index rename to ellison_index ;

select
        *
from    t1
where   n1 = 44
and     n2 = 44
;

prompt  =========================================
prompt  Renaming "ellison_index" to "gates_index"
prompt  =========================================

alter index ellison_index rename to gates_index ;

select
        *
from    t1
where   n1 = 44
and     n2 = 44
;

set autotrace off

I think the version of Oracle that I demonstrated this on was a late version of 9i. The behaviour is the same in 21c.

October 15, 2021

use_nl redux

Filed under: CBO,Execution plans,Hints,Ignoring Hints,Oracle — Jonathan Lewis @ 2:58 pm BST Oct 15,2021

A question has just appeared on a note I wrote in 2012 about the incorrect use of the use_nl() hint in some sys-recursive SQL, linking forward to an explanation I wrote in 2017 of the use_nl() hint – particularly the interpretation of the form use_nl(a,b), which does not mean “use a nested loop from table A to table B)”.

The question is essentially – “does Oracle pick the join order before it looks at the hints”?

I’m going to look at one of the queries in the question (based on the 2017 table creation code) and explain how Oracle gets to the plan it finally picks. I’ll be using an instance of 21.3 in the examples below. Here’s the query, followed by the plan:

select
        /*+ use_nl(b) */
        a.v1, b.v1, c.v1, d.v1
from
        a, b, c, d
where
        d.n100 = 0
and     a.n100 = d.id
and     b.n100 = a.n2
and     c.id   = a.id
/


| Id  | Operation            | Name | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     |
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT     |      | 20000 |  1347K|   105   (5)| 00:00:01 |
|*  1 |  HASH JOIN           |      | 20000 |  1347K|   105   (5)| 00:00:01 |
|   2 |   TABLE ACCESS FULL  | C    | 10000 |   146K|    26   (4)| 00:00:01 |
|*  3 |   HASH JOIN          |      | 20000 |  1054K|    78   (4)| 00:00:01 |
|*  4 |    TABLE ACCESS FULL | D    |   100 |  1800 |    26   (4)| 00:00:01 |
|*  5 |    HASH JOIN         |      | 20000 |   703K|    52   (4)| 00:00:01 |
|   6 |     TABLE ACCESS FULL| B    | 10000 |   136K|    26   (4)| 00:00:01 |
|   7 |     TABLE ACCESS FULL| A    | 10000 |   214K|    26   (4)| 00:00:01 |
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Outline Data
-------------
  /*+
      BEGIN_OUTLINE_DATA
      SWAP_JOIN_INPUTS(@"SEL$1" "C"@"SEL$1")
      SWAP_JOIN_INPUTS(@"SEL$1" "D"@"SEL$1")
      USE_HASH(@"SEL$1" "C"@"SEL$1")
      USE_HASH(@"SEL$1" "D"@"SEL$1")
      USE_HASH(@"SEL$1" "A"@"SEL$1")
      LEADING(@"SEL$1" "B"@"SEL$1" "A"@"SEL$1" "D"@"SEL$1" "C"@"SEL$1")
      FULL(@"SEL$1" "C"@"SEL$1")
      FULL(@"SEL$1" "D"@"SEL$1")
      FULL(@"SEL$1" "A"@"SEL$1")
      FULL(@"SEL$1" "B"@"SEL$1")
      OUTLINE_LEAF(@"SEL$1")
      ALL_ROWS
      DB_VERSION('21.1.0')
      OPTIMIZER_FEATURES_ENABLE('21.1.0')
      IGNORE_OPTIM_EMBEDDED_HINTS
      END_OUTLINE_DATA
  */

Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
---------------------------------------------------
   1 - access("C"."ID"="A"."ID")
   3 - access("A"."N100"="D"."ID")
   4 - filter("D"."N100"=0)
   5 - access("B"."N100"="A"."N2")

Hint Report (identified by operation id / Query Block Name / Object Alias):
Total hints for statement: 1 (U - Unused (1))
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
   6 -  SEL$1 / "B"@"SEL$1"
         U -  use_nl(b)

Note
-----
   - this is an adaptive plan

Points to note:

  • The Hint Report says the plan final did not use the use_nl(b) hint.
  • Whatever you may think the join order is by looking at the bodyy of the plan, the leading() hint in the Outline Information tells us that the join order was (B A D C) – and that explains why the use_nl(b) hint could not be used, because B was never “the next table in the join order”.
  • The “visible” order of activity displayed in the plan is C D B A, but that’s because we swap_join_inputs(D) to put it above the (B,A) join, then swap_join_inputs(C) to put that above D.

So did Oracle completely pre-empt any plans that allowed B to be “the next table”, thus avoiding the hint, or did it consider some plans where B wasn’t the first table in the join order and, if so, would it have used a nested loop into B if that plan had had a low enough cost?

The only way to answer these questions is to look at the CBO (10053) trace file; and for very simple queries it’s often enough to pick out a few lines as a starting point – in my case using egrep:

egrep -e "^Join order" -e"Best so far" or21_ora_15956.trc

Join order[1]:  D[D]#0  A[A]#1  B[B]#2  C[C]#3
Best so far:  Table#: 0  cost: 25.752439  card: 100.000000  bytes: 1800.000000
Join order[2]:  D[D]#0  A[A]#1  C[C]#3  B[B]#2
Best so far:  Table#: 0  cost: 25.752439  card: 100.000000  bytes: 1800.000000
Join order[3]:  D[D]#0  B[B]#2  A[A]#1  C[C]#3
Best so far:  Table#: 0  cost: 25.752439  card: 100.000000  bytes: 1800.000000
Join order[4]:  D[D]#0  B[B]#2  C[C]#3  A[A]#1
Join order aborted2: cost > best plan cost
Join order[5]:  D[D]#0  C[C]#3  A[A]#1  B[B]#2
Join order aborted2: cost > best plan cost
Join order[6]:  D[D]#0  C[C]#3  B[B]#2  A[A]#1
Join order aborted2: cost > best plan cost

Join order[7]:  A[A]#1  D[D]#0  B[B]#2  C[C]#3
Join order aborted2: cost > best plan cost
Join order[8]:  A[A]#1  D[D]#0  C[C]#3  B[B]#2
Join order aborted2: cost > best plan cost
Join order[9]:  A[A]#1  B[B]#2  D[D]#0  C[C]#3
Join order aborted2: cost > best plan cost
Join order[10]:  A[A]#1  C[C]#3  D[D]#0  B[B]#2
Join order aborted2: cost > best plan cost
Join order[11]:  A[A]#1  C[C]#3  B[B]#2  D[D]#0
Join order aborted2: cost > best plan cost

Join order[12]:  B[B]#2  D[D]#0  A[A]#1  C[C]#3
Join order aborted2: cost > best plan cost
Join order[13]:  B[B]#2  A[A]#1  D[D]#0  C[C]#3
Best so far:  Table#: 2  cost: 25.692039  card: 10000.000000  bytes: 140000.000000
Join order[14]:  B[B]#2  A[A]#1  C[C]#3  D[D]#0
Join order aborted2: cost > best plan cost
Join order[15]:  B[B]#2  C[C]#3  D[D]#0  A[A]#1
Join order aborted2: cost > best plan cost

Join order[16]:  C[C]#3  D[D]#0  A[A]#1  B[B]#2
Join order aborted2: cost > best plan cost
Join order[17]:  C[C]#3  A[A]#1  D[D]#0  B[B]#2
Join order aborted2: cost > best plan cost
Join order[18]:  C[C]#3  A[A]#1  B[B]#2  D[D]#0
Join order aborted2: cost > best plan cost
Join order[19]:  C[C]#3  B[B]#2  D[D]#0  A[A]#1
Join order aborted2: cost > best plan cost

Oracle has considerd 19 possible join orders (out of a maximum of 24 (= 4!). In theory we should see 6 plans starting with each of the 4 tables. In fact we see that the optimizer’s first choice started with table D, producing 6 join orders, then switched to starting with table A, producing only 5 join orders.

The “missing” order is (A, B, C, D) which should have appeared between join orders 9 and 10. If we check the trace file for join order 9 (A, B, D, C) in more detail we’ll see that the optimizer aborted after calculating the join from A to B because the cost had already exceeded the “Best so far” by then; so it didn’t even calculate the cost of getting to the 3rd table (D) in that join order. Clearly, then, there was no point in considering any other order that started with (A, B) – hence the absence of (A, B, C, D), which would otherwise have been the next in the list

I’ve highlighted all the join orders where the optimizer didn’t abort with a “Best so far” line, but the method I used was engineered for ease and the result is misleading, that line is only the cost of getting data from the first table in join order so I need to expand the output in each case to 4 lines (one for each table). This is what the 4 non-aborted summaries look like:

egrep -A+3 -e"Best so far" or21_ora_15956.trc

Best so far:  Table#: 0  cost: 25.752439  card: 100.000000  bytes: 1800.000000
              Table#: 1  cost: 51.767478  card: 10000.000000  bytes: 400000.000000
              Table#: 2  cost: 30137.036118  card: 20000.000000  bytes: 1080000.000000
              Table#: 3  cost: 30163.548157  card: 20000.000000  bytes: 1380000.000000
--
Best so far:  Table#: 0  cost: 25.752439  card: 100.000000  bytes: 1800.000000
              Table#: 1  cost: 51.767478  card: 10000.000000  bytes: 400000.000000
              Table#: 3  cost: 78.079517  card: 10000.000000  bytes: 550000.000000
              Table#: 2  cost: 30163.348157  card: 20000.000000  bytes: 1380000.000000
--
Best so far:  Table#: 0  cost: 25.752439  card: 100.000000  bytes: 1800.000000
              Table#: 2  cost: 2483.956340  card: 1000000.000000  bytes: 32000000.000000
              Table#: 1  cost: 2530.068379  card: 20000.000000  bytes: 1080000.000000
              Table#: 3  cost: 2556.580418  card: 20000.000000  bytes: 1380000.000000
--
Best so far:  Table#: 2  cost: 25.692039  card: 10000.000000  bytes: 140000.000000
              Table#: 1  cost: 52.204078  card: 20000.000000  bytes: 720000.000000
              Table#: 0  cost: 78.479517  card: 20000.000000  bytes: 1080000.000000
              Table#: 3  cost: 104.991556  card: 20000.000000  bytes: 1380000.000000

As you can see, when we start with (B A) the estimated cost drops dramatically.

Now that we’ve see that Oracle looks at many (though not a completely exhaustive set of) plans on the way to the one it picks the thing we need to do (in theory) is check that for every single calculation where B is “the next table”, Oracle obeys our hint. Each time the optimizer join “the next” table it usually considers the cost of a Nested Loop, a Sort Merge, and a Hash Join in that order; if the optimizer is obeying the hint it will only consider the nested loop join. Here’s a suitable call to egrep with the first four join orders::

egrep -e "^Join order" -e "^Now joining" -e"^NL Join" -e"^SM Join" -e"^HA Join" or21_ora_15956.trc

Join order[1]:  D[D]#0  A[A]#1  B[B]#2  C[C]#3
Now joining: A[A]#1
NL Join
SM Join
SM Join (with index on outer)
HA Join
Now joining: B[B]#2
NL Join
Now joining: C[C]#3
NL Join
SM Join
HA Join

Join order[2]:  D[D]#0  A[A]#1  C[C]#3  B[B]#2
Now joining: C[C]#3
NL Join
SM Join
HA Join
Now joining: B[B]#2
NL Join

Join order[3]:  D[D]#0  B[B]#2  A[A]#1  C[C]#3
Now joining: B[B]#2
NL Join
Now joining: A[A]#1
NL Join
SM Join
HA Join
Now joining: C[C]#3
NL Join
SM Join
HA Join

Join order[4]:  D[D]#0  B[B]#2  C[C]#3  A[A]#1
Now joining: C[C]#3
NL Join
Join order aborted2: cost > best plan cost


As you can see, the only join considered when “Now joining” B is a nested loop join; for all other tables the three possible joins (and sometimes two variants of the Sort Merge join) are evaluated.

You may also notice another of the clever strategies the optimizer uses to minimise its workload. On the second join order the optimizer goes straight to “Now joining C” because it has remembered the result of joining A from the previous join order.

This is only a very simple example and analysis, but I hope it’s given you some idea of how the optimizer works, and how clever it tries to be about minimising the work; and how it can obey a hint while still producing an execution plan that appears to have ignored the hint.

October 11, 2021

Adaptive Study

Filed under: Execution plans,Oracle — Jonathan Lewis @ 11:57 am BST Oct 11,2021

This is a little case study of adaptive optimisation in Oracle 19c with a surprising side-effect showing up when the optimizer gave the execution engine the option to “do the right thing” and the execution engine took it – except the “right thing” turned out to be a wrong thing.

We started with a request to the Oracle-L list server asking about the difference between the operations “table access by rowid” and “table access by rowid batched” and why changing the parameter “optimizer_adaptive_reporting_only” should make a plan switch from one to the other, and how much of a performance impact this would have because this was the only change that showed up in a plan that went from fast (enough) to very slow when the parameter was changed from true to false.

The batching (or not) of the table access really shouldn’t make much difference; the batch option tends to appear if there’s a “blocking” operation (such as a hash join) further up the execution plan, but the mechanism by which a rowsource is produced and passed up the tree is only likely to be affected very slightly. So there had to be something else going on.

Fortunately the OP had the SQL Monitor reports available from a fast / non-batched / reporting only = true run and a slow / batched / “reporting only = false” run. I’ve shown these below with the option to expand and contract them on demand:

Fast plan (reporting only):

Click on this line to expand the “reporting only = true (fast)” plan
Global Information
------------------------------
 Status              :  DONE (ALL ROWS)         
 Instance ID         :  2                       
 Session             :  XXXXX (510:5394) 
 SQL ID              :  791qwn38bq6gv           
 SQL Execution ID    :  33554432                
 Execution Started   :  10/07/2021 11:46:56     
 First Refresh Time  :  10/07/2021 11:46:56     
 Last Refresh Time   :  10/07/2021 11:51:36     
 Duration            :  280s                    
 Module/Action       :  SQL*Plus/-              
 Service             :  XXXXX.XXXXX.com 
 Program             :  sqlplus.exe             
 Fetch Calls         :  370                     

Global Stats
===========================================================================
| Elapsed |   Cpu   |    IO    | Cluster  | Fetch | Buffer | Read | Read  |
| Time(s) | Time(s) | Waits(s) | Waits(s) | Calls |  Gets  | Reqs | Bytes |
===========================================================================
|     252 |     170 |       71 |       11 |   370 |    39M | 251K |   2GB |
===========================================================================

SQL Plan Monitoring Details (Plan Hash Value=250668601)
===============================================================================================================================================================================
| Id |                      Operation                       |             Name              |  Rows   | Cost  |   Time    | Start  | Execs |   Rows   | Read  | Read  |  Mem  |
|    |                                                      |                               | (Estim) |       | Active(s) | Active |       | (Actual) | Reqs  | Bytes | (Max) |
===============================================================================================================================================================================
|  0 | SELECT STATEMENT                                     |                               |         |       |       279 |     +2 |     1 |       2M |       |       |     . |
|  1 |   FILTER                                             |                               |         |       |       279 |     +2 |     1 |       2M |       |       |     . |
|  2 |    NESTED LOOPS OUTER                                |                               |       1 |    3M |       279 |     +2 |     1 |       2M |       |       |     . |
|  3 |     NESTED LOOPS OUTER                               |                               |       1 |    3M |       279 |     +2 |     1 |       2M |       |       |     . |
|  4 |      HASH JOIN OUTER                                 |                               |       1 |    3M |       279 |     +2 |     1 |       2M |       |       |     . |
|  5 |       NESTED LOOPS OUTER                             |                               |       1 |    3M |       279 |     +2 |     1 |       2M |       |       |     . |
|  6 |        STATISTICS COLLECTOR                          |                               |         |       |       279 |     +2 |     1 |       2M |       |       |     . |
|  7 |         NESTED LOOPS OUTER                           |                               |       1 |    3M |       279 |     +2 |     1 |       2M |       |       |     . |
|  8 |          HASH JOIN OUTER                             |                               |       1 |    3M |       279 |     +2 |     1 |       2M |       |       |     . |
|  9 |           NESTED LOOPS OUTER                         |                               |       1 |    3M |       279 |     +2 |     1 |       2M |       |       |     . |
| 10 |            STATISTICS COLLECTOR                      |                               |         |       |       279 |     +2 |     1 |       2M |       |       |     . |
| 11 |             NESTED LOOPS OUTER                       |                               |       1 |    3M |       279 |     +2 |     1 |       2M |       |       |     . |
| 12 |              NESTED LOOPS OUTER                      |                               |       1 |    3M |       279 |     +2 |     1 |       2M |       |       |     . |
| 13 |               NESTED LOOPS                           |                               |    272K |    2M |       279 |     +2 |     1 |       2M |       |       |     . |
| 14 |                NESTED LOOPS OUTER                    |                               |    272K |    2M |       279 |     +2 |     1 |       2M |       |       |     . |
| 15 |                 NESTED LOOPS                         |                               |    272K |    2M |       279 |     +2 |     1 |       2M |       |       |     . |
| 16 |                  NESTED LOOPS OUTER                  |                               |    272K |    1M |       279 |     +2 |     1 |       2M |       |       |     . |
| 17 |                   NESTED LOOPS                       |                               |    272K |    1M |       279 |     +2 |     1 |       2M |       |       |     . |
| 18 |                    FILTER                            |                               |         |       |       279 |     +2 |     1 |       2M |       |       |     . |
| 19 |                     NESTED LOOPS OUTER               |                               |    272K |  598K |       279 |     +2 |     1 |       2M |       |       |     . |
| 20 |                      VIEW                            | index$_join$_006              |    276K | 48299 |       279 |     +2 |     1 |       2M |       |       |     . |
| 21 |                       HASH JOIN                      |                               |         |       |       279 |     +2 |     1 |       2M |       |       | 132MB |
| 22 |                        HASH JOIN                     |                               |         |       |         2 |     +1 |     1 |       2M |       |       | 124MB |
| 23 |                         INDEX STORAGE FAST FULL SCAN | TET_IX2                       |    276K |  8505 |         1 |     +2 |     1 |       2M |       |       |     . |
| 24 |                         INDEX STORAGE FAST FULL SCAN | TET_IX4                       |    276K | 13077 |         1 |     +2 |     1 |       2M |       |       |     . |
| 25 |                        INDEX STORAGE FAST FULL SCAN  | TET_PK                        |    276K | 11889 |       279 |     +2 |     1 |       2M |   149 |  62MB |     . |
| 26 |                      TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID     | TT                            |       1 |     2 |       279 |     +2 |    2M |       2M |  2347 |  18MB |     . |
| 27 |                       INDEX UNIQUE SCAN              | TT_PK                         |       1 |     1 |       279 |     +2 |    2M |       2M |    11 | 90112 |     . |
| 28 |                    TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID       | TM                            |       1 |     2 |       279 |     +2 |    2M |       2M | 12476 |  97MB |     . |
| 29 |                     INDEX UNIQUE SCAN                | TM_PK                         |       1 |     1 |       279 |     +2 |    2M |       2M |  1683 |  13MB |     . |
| 30 |                   TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID        | TU                            |       1 |     1 |       257 |    +21 |    2M |    17764 |   137 |   1MB |     . |
| 31 |                    INDEX UNIQUE SCAN                 | TU_PK                         |       1 |       |       257 |    +21 |    2M |    17764 |     1 |  8192 |     . |
| 32 |                  TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID         | TEP                           |       1 |     2 |       279 |     +2 |    2M |       2M |  155K |   1GB |     . |
| 33 |                   INDEX UNIQUE SCAN                  | TEP_PK                        |       1 |     1 |       279 |     +2 |    2M |       2M |  1729 |  14MB |     . |
| 34 |                 TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID          | TLIM                          |       1 |     1 |       279 |     +2 |    2M |       2M |       |       |     . |
| 35 |                  INDEX UNIQUE SCAN                   | TLIM_PK                       |       1 |       |       279 |     +2 |    2M |       2M |       |       |     . |
| 36 |                TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID           | TLPSE                         |       1 |     1 |       279 |     +2 |    2M |       2M |       |       |     . |
| 37 |                 INDEX UNIQUE SCAN                    | TLPSE_PK                      |       1 |       |       279 |     +2 |    2M |       2M |       |       |     . |
| 38 |               INDEX RANGE SCAN                       | TCX_IX2                       |       1 |     2 |       279 |     +2 |    2M |       2M |  8870 |  69MB |     . |
| 39 |              TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID             | TC                            |       1 |     2 |       279 |     +2 |    2M |       2M | 14648 | 114MB |     . |
| 40 |               INDEX UNIQUE SCAN                      | TC_PK                         |       1 |     1 |       279 |     +2 |    2M |       2M |   157 |   1MB |     . |
| 41 |            INDEX RANGE SCAN                          | TCX_PK                        |       1 |     2 |       279 |     +2 |    2M |       2M |       |       |     . |
| 42 |           INDEX RANGE SCAN                           | TCX_PK                        |       1 |     2 |           |        |       |          |       |       |     . |
| 43 |          TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID                 | TC                            |       1 |     2 |       279 |     +2 |    2M |       2M | 16037 | 125MB |     . |
| 44 |           INDEX UNIQUE SCAN                          | TC_PK                         |       1 |     1 |       279 |     +2 |    2M |       2M |   224 |   2MB |     . |
| 45 |        TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID                   | TP                            |       1 |     3 |       279 |     +2 |    2M |       2M |       |       |     . |
| 46 |         INDEX RANGE SCAN                             | TP_PK                         |      15 |     1 |       279 |     +2 |    2M |      28M |       |       |     . |
| 47 |       TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID                    | TP                            |       1 |     3 |           |        |       |          |       |       |     . |
| 48 |        INDEX RANGE SCAN                              | TP_PK                         |      15 |     1 |           |        |       |          |       |       |     . |
| 49 |      TABLE ACCESS STORAGE FULL FIRST ROWS            | TLIET                         |       1 |     3 |       279 |     +2 |    2M |       2M |       |       |     . |
| 50 |     VIEW PUSHED PREDICATE                            | TEB_VW                        |       1 |    57 |       256 |    +24 |    2M |     1459 |       |       |     . |
| 51 |      NESTED LOOPS OUTER                              |                               |       1 |    57 |       272 |     +8 |    2M |     1459 |       |       |     . |
| 52 |       NESTED LOOPS                                   |                               |       1 |    55 |       256 |    +24 |    2M |     1459 |       |       |     . |
| 53 |        NESTED LOOPS                                  |                               |       1 |    53 |       256 |    +24 |    2M |     1459 |       |       |     . |
| 54 |         NESTED LOOPS                                 |                               |       1 |    51 |       272 |     +9 |    2M |     1459 |       |       |     . |
| 55 |          NESTED LOOPS                                |                               |       5 |    41 |       279 |     +2 |    2M |     6965 |       |       |     . |
| 56 |           NESTED LOOPS                               |                               |       1 |     7 |       279 |     +2 |    2M |     770K |       |       |     . |
| 57 |            NESTED LOOPS                              |                               |       1 |     4 |       279 |     +2 |    2M |     770K |       |       |     . |
| 58 |             NESTED LOOPS                             |                               |       1 |     3 |       279 |     +2 |    2M |     770K |       |       |     . |
| 59 |              TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID             | TEP                           |       1 |     3 |       279 |     +2 |    2M |     770K |       |       |     . |
| 60 |               INDEX UNIQUE SCAN                      | TEP_PK                        |       1 |     2 |       279 |     +2 |    2M |       2M |       |       |     . |
| 61 |              INDEX RANGE SCAN                        | TLP_IX1                       |       1 |       |       279 |     +2 |  770K |     770K |       |       |     . |
| 62 |             VIEW                                     |                               |       1 |     1 |       279 |     +2 |  770K |     770K |       |       |     . |
| 63 |              SORT AGGREGATE                          |                               |       1 |       |       279 |     +2 |  770K |     770K |       |       |     . |
| 64 |               TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID            | TPR                           |       1 |     1 |       279 |     +2 |  770K |     770K |       |       |     . |
| 65 |                INDEX UNIQUE SCAN                     | TPR_PK                        |       1 |       |       279 |     +2 |  770K |     770K |       |       |     . |
| 66 |            TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID               | TET                           |       1 |     3 |       279 |     +2 |  770K |     770K | 28892 | 226MB |     . |
| 67 |             INDEX RANGE SCAN                         | TET_Ix1                       |       1 |     2 |       279 |     +2 |  770K |     899K |  6957 |  54MB |     . |
| 68 |           TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID                | TWE                           |       5 |    34 |       272 |     +9 |  770K |     6965 |   890 |   7MB |     . |
| 69 |            INDEX RANGE SCAN                          | TWE_IDX1                      |      35 |     2 |       272 |     +9 |  770K |     6965 |    22 | 176KB |     . |
| 70 |          TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID                 | TT                            |       1 |     2 |       272 |     +9 |  6965 |     1459 |       |       |     . |
| 71 |           INDEX UNIQUE SCAN                          | TT_PK                         |       1 |     1 |       272 |     +9 |  6965 |     6965 |       |       |     . |
| 72 |         INDEX RANGE SCAN                             | TCX_IX2                       |       1 |     2 |       256 |    +24 |  1459 |     1459 |   932 |   7MB |     . |
| 73 |        TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID                   | TC                            |       1 |     2 |       256 |    +24 |  1459 |     1459 |       |       |     . |
| 74 |         INDEX UNIQUE SCAN                            | TC_PK                         |       1 |     1 |       256 |    +24 |  1459 |     1459 |       |       |     . |
| 75 |       TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID                    | TLS                           |       1 |     2 |       256 |    +24 |  1459 |     1451 |       |       |     . |
| 76 |        INDEX SKIP SCAN                               | TLS_PK                        |       1 |     1 |       256 |    +24 |  1459 |     1451 |       |       |     . |
| 77 |    SORT AGGREGATE                                    |                               |       1 |       |       279 |     +2 |    2M |       2M |       |       |     . |
| 78 |     FIRST ROW                                        |                               |       1 |     3 |       279 |     +2 |    2M |       2M |       |       |     . |
| 79 |      INDEX RANGE SCAN (MIN/MAX)                      | TCX_IX2                       |       1 |     3 |       279 |     +2 |    2M |       2M |       |       |     . |
===============================================================================================================================================================================

Hint Report (identified by operation id / Query Block Name / Object Alias):
Total hints for statement: 3 (U - Unused (1))
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    0 -  STATEMENT
         U -  first_rows / hint overridden by another in parent query block
           -  first_rows
 
  56 -  SEL$5
           -  no_merge
 
Note
-----
   - this is an adaptive plan

Slow plan (runtime adapted):

Click on this line to expand the “reporting_only = false (slow)” plan
Global Information
------------------------------
 Status              :  DONE (ALL ROWS)          
 Instance ID         :  2                        
 Session             :  XXXXX (509:27860) 
 SQL ID              :  8t19y7v5j9ztg            
 SQL Execution ID    :  33554432                 
 Execution Started   :  10/07/2021 07:56:09      
 First Refresh Time  :  10/07/2021 07:56:09      
 Last Refresh Time   :  10/07/2021 08:07:17      
 Duration            :  668s                     
 Module/Action       :  SQL*Plus/-               
 Service             :  XXXXX.XXXXX.com  
 Program             :  sqlplus.exe              
 Fetch Calls         :  370                      

Global Stats
==========================================================================================================================
| Elapsed |   Cpu   |    IO    | Concurrency | Cluster  | Fetch | Buffer | Read | Read  | Write | Write |    Offload     |
| Time(s) | Time(s) | Waits(s) |  Waits(s)   | Waits(s) | Calls |  Gets  | Reqs | Bytes | Reqs  | Bytes | Returned Bytes |
==========================================================================================================================
|     705 |     280 |      270 |        0.00 |      155 |   370 |    40M | 984K |  11GB |  6422 |   3GB |            6GB |
==========================================================================================================================

SQL Plan Monitoring Details (Plan Hash Value=3015036808)
========================================================================================================================================================================================================
| Id |                      Operation                       |             Name              |  Rows   | Cost  |   Time    | Start  | Execs |   Rows   | Read  | Read  | Write | Write |  Mem  | Temp  |
|    |                                                      |                               | (Estim) |       | Active(s) | Active |       | (Actual) | Reqs  | Bytes | Reqs  | Bytes | (Max) | (Max) |
========================================================================================================================================================================================================
|  0 | SELECT STATEMENT                                     |                               |         |       |       512 |   +157 |     1 |       2M |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
|  1 |   FILTER                                             |                               |         |       |       512 |   +157 |     1 |       2M |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
|  2 |    NESTED LOOPS OUTER                                |                               |       1 |    3M |       512 |   +157 |     1 |       2M |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
|  3 |     NESTED LOOPS OUTER                               |                               |       1 |    3M |       512 |   +157 |     1 |       2M |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
|  4 |      HASH JOIN OUTER                                 |                               |       1 |    3M |       538 |   +131 |     1 |       2M |  3387 |   2GB |  3387 |   2GB | 450MB |   2GB |
|  5 |       NESTED LOOPS OUTER                             |                               |       1 |    3M |        27 |   +131 |     1 |       2M |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
|  6 |        STATISTICS COLLECTOR                          |                               |         |       |        27 |   +131 |     1 |       2M |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
|  7 |         NESTED LOOPS OUTER                           |                               |       1 |    3M |        27 |   +131 |     1 |       2M |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
|  8 |          HASH JOIN OUTER                             |                               |       1 |    3M |       155 |     +3 |     1 |       2M |  3035 |   1GB |  3035 |   1GB | 309MB |   1GB |
|  9 |           NESTED LOOPS OUTER                         |                               |       1 |    3M |       129 |     +3 |     1 |       2M |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
| 10 |            STATISTICS COLLECTOR                      |                               |         |       |       129 |     +3 |     1 |       2M |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
| 11 |             NESTED LOOPS OUTER                       |                               |       1 |    3M |       129 |     +3 |     1 |       2M |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
| 12 |              NESTED LOOPS OUTER                      |                               |       1 |    3M |       129 |     +3 |     1 |       2M |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
| 13 |               NESTED LOOPS                           |                               |    272K |    2M |       129 |     +3 |     1 |       2M |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
| 14 |                NESTED LOOPS OUTER                    |                               |    272K |    2M |       129 |     +3 |     1 |       2M |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
| 15 |                 NESTED LOOPS                         |                               |    272K |    2M |       129 |     +3 |     1 |       2M |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
| 16 |                  NESTED LOOPS OUTER                  |                               |    272K |    1M |       129 |     +3 |     1 |       2M |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
| 17 |                   NESTED LOOPS                       |                               |    272K |    1M |       129 |     +3 |     1 |       2M |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
| 18 |                    FILTER                            |                               |         |       |       129 |     +3 |     1 |       2M |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
| 19 |                     NESTED LOOPS OUTER               |                               |    272K |  598K |       129 |     +3 |     1 |       2M |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
| 20 |                      VIEW                            | index$_join$_006              |    276K | 48299 |       129 |     +3 |     1 |       2M |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
| 21 |                       HASH JOIN                      |                               |         |       |       129 |     +3 |     1 |       2M |       |       |       |       | 132MB |     . |
| 22 |                        HASH JOIN                     |                               |         |       |         3 |     +1 |     1 |       2M |       |       |       |       | 124MB |     . |
| 23 |                         INDEX STORAGE FAST FULL SCAN | TET_IX2                       |    276K |  8505 |         1 |     +1 |     1 |       2M |   129 |  54MB |       |       |     . |     . |
| 24 |                         INDEX STORAGE FAST FULL SCAN | TET_IX4                       |    276K | 13077 |         3 |     +1 |     1 |       2M |   167 |  81MB |       |       |     . |     . |
| 25 |                        INDEX STORAGE FAST FULL SCAN  | TET_PK                        |    276K | 11889 |       129 |     +3 |     1 |       2M |   198 |  61MB |       |       |     . |     . |
| 26 |                      TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID     | TT                            |       1 |     2 |       129 |     +3 |    2M |       2M |  1488 |  12MB |       |       |     . |     . |
| 27 |                       INDEX UNIQUE SCAN              | TT_PK                         |       1 |     1 |       129 |     +3 |    2M |       2M |     7 | 57344 |       |       |     . |     . |
| 28 |                    TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID       | TM                            |       1 |     2 |       129 |     +3 |    2M |       2M |  9875 |  77MB |       |       |     . |     . |
| 29 |                     INDEX UNIQUE SCAN                | TM_PK                         |       1 |     1 |       129 |     +3 |    2M |       2M |  1235 |  10MB |       |       |     . |     . |
| 30 |                   TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID        | TU                            |       1 |     1 |       119 |    +11 |    2M |    17764 |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
| 31 |                    INDEX UNIQUE SCAN                 | TU_PK                         |       1 |       |       119 |    +11 |    2M |    17764 |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
| 32 |                  TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID         | TEP                           |       1 |     2 |       129 |     +3 |    2M |       2M |  140K |   1GB |       |       |     . |     . |
| 33 |                   INDEX UNIQUE SCAN                  | TEP_PK                        |       1 |     1 |       129 |     +3 |    2M |       2M |  1478 |  12MB |       |       |     . |     . |
| 34 |                 TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID          | TLIM                          |       1 |     1 |       129 |     +3 |    2M |       2M |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
| 35 |                  INDEX UNIQUE SCAN                   | TLIM_PK                       |       1 |       |       129 |     +3 |    2M |       2M |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
| 36 |                TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID           | TLPSE                         |       1 |     1 |       129 |     +3 |    2M |       2M |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
| 37 |                 INDEX UNIQUE SCAN                    | TLPSE_PK                      |       1 |       |       129 |     +3 |    2M |       2M |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
| 38 |               INDEX RANGE SCAN                       | TCX_IX2                       |       1 |     2 |       129 |     +3 |    2M |       2M |  4642 |  36MB |       |       |     . |     . |
| 39 |              TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID             | TC                            |       1 |     2 |       129 |     +3 |    2M |       2M | 22307 | 174MB |       |       |     . |     . |
| 40 |               INDEX UNIQUE SCAN                      | TC_PK                         |       1 |     1 |       129 |     +3 |    2M |       2M |   546 |   4MB |       |       |     . |     . |
| 41 |            INDEX RANGE SCAN                          | TCX_PK                        |       1 |     2 |           |        |       |          |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
| 42 |           INDEX RANGE SCAN                           | TCX_PK                        |       1 |     2 |         1 |   +131 |     1 |     976K |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
| 43 |          TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID                 | TC                            |       1 |     2 |        27 |   +131 |    2M |       2M | 21549 | 168MB |       |       |     . |     . |
| 44 |           INDEX UNIQUE SCAN                          | TC_PK                         |       1 |     1 |        27 |   +131 |    2M |       2M |   959 |   7MB |       |       |     . |     . |
| 45 |        TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID BATCHED           | TP                            |       1 |     3 |           |        |       |          |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
| 46 |         INDEX RANGE SCAN                             | TP_PK                         |      15 |     1 |           |        |       |          |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
| 47 |       TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID BATCHED            | TP                            |       1 |     3 |        36 |   +157 |     1 |       15 |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
| 48 |        INDEX RANGE SCAN                              | TP_PK                         |      15 |     1 |        36 |   +157 |     1 |       15 |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
| 49 |      TABLE ACCESS STORAGE FULL FIRST ROWS            | TLIET                         |       1 |     3 |       512 |   +157 |    2M |       2M |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
| 50 |     VIEW PUSHED PREDICATE                            | TEB_VW                        |       1 |    57 |       506 |   +163 |    2M |     1459 |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
| 51 |      NESTED LOOPS OUTER                              |                               |       1 |    57 |       506 |   +163 |    2M |     1459 |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
| 52 |       NESTED LOOPS                                   |                               |       1 |    55 |       506 |   +163 |    2M |     1459 |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
| 53 |        NESTED LOOPS                                  |                               |       1 |    53 |       506 |   +163 |    2M |     1459 |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
| 54 |         NESTED LOOPS                                 |                               |       1 |    51 |       506 |   +163 |    2M |     1459 |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
| 55 |          NESTED LOOPS                                |                               |       5 |    41 |       510 |   +159 |    2M |     6965 |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
| 56 |           NESTED LOOPS                               |                               |       1 |     7 |       510 |   +159 |    2M |     770K |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
| 57 |            NESTED LOOPS                              |                               |       1 |     4 |       510 |   +159 |    2M |     770K |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
| 58 |             NESTED LOOPS                             |                               |       1 |     3 |       510 |   +159 |    2M |     770K |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
| 59 |              TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID             | TEP                           |       1 |     3 |       512 |   +157 |    2M |     770K |  661K |   5GB |       |       |     . |     . |
| 60 |               INDEX UNIQUE SCAN                      | TEP_PK                        |       1 |     2 |       512 |   +157 |    2M |       2M |  2934 |  23MB |       |       |     . |     . |
| 61 |              INDEX RANGE SCAN                        | TLP_IX1                       |       1 |       |       510 |   +159 |  770K |     770K |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
| 62 |             VIEW                                     |                               |       1 |     1 |       510 |   +159 |  770K |     770K |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
| 63 |              SORT AGGREGATE                          |                               |       1 |       |       510 |   +159 |  770K |     770K |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
| 64 |               TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID            | TPR                           |       1 |     1 |       510 |   +159 |  770K |     770K |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
| 65 |                INDEX UNIQUE SCAN                     | TPR_PK                        |       1 |       |       510 |   +159 |  770K |     770K |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
| 66 |            TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID BATCHED       | TET                           |       1 |     3 |       511 |   +158 |  770K |     770K | 79759 | 623MB |       |       |     . |     . |
| 67 |             INDEX RANGE SCAN                         | TET_Ix1                       |       1 |     2 |       510 |   +159 |  770K |     899K | 15834 | 124MB |       |       |     . |     . |
| 68 |           TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID BATCHED        | TWE                           |       5 |    34 |       506 |   +163 |  770K |     6965 |  2080 |  16MB |       |       |     . |     . |
| 69 |            INDEX RANGE SCAN                          | TWE_IDX1                      |      35 |     2 |       506 |   +163 |  770K |     6965 |   118 | 944KB |       |       |     . |     . |
| 70 |          TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID                 | TT                            |       1 |     2 |       506 |   +163 |  6965 |     1459 |   208 |   2MB |       |       |     . |     . |
| 71 |           INDEX UNIQUE SCAN                          | TT_PK                         |       1 |     1 |       506 |   +163 |  6965 |     6965 |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
| 72 |         INDEX RANGE SCAN                             | TCX_IX2                       |       1 |     2 |       506 |   +163 |  1459 |     1459 |  1388 |  11MB |       |       |     . |     . |
| 73 |        TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID                   | TC                            |       1 |     2 |       506 |   +163 |  1459 |     1459 |   936 |   7MB |       |       |     . |     . |
| 74 |         INDEX UNIQUE SCAN                            | TC_PK                         |       1 |     1 |       506 |   +163 |  1459 |     1459 |    75 | 600KB |       |       |     . |     . |
| 75 |       TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID BATCHED            | TLS                           |       1 |     2 |       506 |   +163 |  1459 |     1451 |     1 |  8192 |       |       |     . |     . |
| 76 |        INDEX SKIP SCAN                               | TLS_PK                        |       1 |     1 |       506 |   +163 |  1459 |     1451 |     1 |  8192 |       |       |     . |     . |
| 77 |    SORT AGGREGATE                                    |                               |       1 |       |       512 |   +157 |    2M |       2M |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
| 78 |     FIRST ROW                                        |                               |       1 |     3 |       512 |   +157 |    2M |       2M |       |       |       |       |     . |     . |
| 79 |      INDEX RANGE SCAN (MIN/MAX)                      | TCX_IX2                       |       1 |     3 |       512 |   +157 |    2M |       2M |  9356 |  73MB |       |       |     . |     . |
=======================================================================================================================================================================================================

Hint Report (identified by operation id / Query Block Name / Object Alias):
Total hints for statement: 3 (U - Unused (1))
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
   0 -  STATEMENT
         U -  first_rows / hint overridden by another in parent query block
           -  first_rows
 
  56 -  SEL$5
           -  no_merge
 
Note
-----
   - this is an adaptive plan

If you want to pull these plans into separate windows and compare (nothing but) the Operations and Names line by line you’ll find that the only differences appear at operations 45, 47, 66, 68, and 75:

| 45 |        TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID                   | TP                            |
| 47 |       TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID                    | TP                            |
| 66 |            TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID               | TET                           |
| 68 |           TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID                | TWE                           |
| 75 |       TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID                    | TLS                           |

| 45 |        TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID BATCHED           | TP                            |
| 47 |       TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID BATCHED            | TP                            |
| 66 |            TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID BATCHED       | TET                           |
| 68 |           TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID BATCHED        | TWE                           |
| 75 |       TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID BATCHED            | TLS                           |

So what could possibly make one plan so much slower than the other?

There are all sorts of bits and pieces in these plans that you need to be able to spot “in passing” if you want to become fluent at understanding execution plans. It’s something that takes a lot of practise but there’s one general tip (or warning, perhaps) that I can offer.

If you start out by looking for one particular thing you’ll miss lots of important clues; on a first pass through the plan just try to notice anything that looks a little interesting or informative, then go back for a more detailed examination on a second pass through the plan.

I won’t go through the entire pattern of thought that went through my mind as I started looking at these plans, but here are a couple of flags I raised

  • Adaptive plans in SQL Monitor – we’re likely to see some “statistics collector” operations and that’s the “obvious” source of the anomaly, but reading plans that include their adaptive bits can be a mind-bending experience.
  • Global Stats of the slow one says 984K read requests (compared to 251K for the fast plan) – that might explain the difference in timing – keep an eye out for where the big numbers appear. (NB Don’t, at this point, go looking for them as that may lead you into missing the real issue.)
  • The slow plan plan shows the top operation with a Start Active of +157 while the fast plan has a start active of +2: that’s pretty consistent with a comment the user made (but I hadn’t mentioned) about the response time from the user’s persective; and it tells us that there’s a blocking operation somewhere in the slow plan. That’s nice because that’s what we might expect from seeing an adaptive plan switching from a nested loop to a hash join. (So we already think we’re a clever bunny – too bad it wasn’t quite the right answer.)
  • There are two places in the plan which report Statistics Collector, with one Nested Loop Outer then a Hash Join Outer immediately above them as the two candidate consumers for the rowsource supplied by the collector’s child operation. (Note: in some cases you will see two Nested Loop operations above a Statistics Collector before you get to the Hash Join, but that’s just because Oracle may implement a nested loop join in two steps, first to the index, second to the table)

First thoughts

With the warning about not digging “too deep too soon” in mind, here are a few potentially significant observations;. In the following notes I’ll simply refer to the plans as the “fast” plan and the “slow” plan..

  • The slow plan shows a large hash join with spill to disc at operation 4, and that’s one of the options triggered by the statistics collector at operation 6. It’s a little confusing that the nested loop join following it also reports execution statistics since only one of the two lines would have been doing anything, but we’ll assume for now that that’s a reporting error and postpone making a fuss about it. The same pattern appears at operations 8, 9 and 10.
  • A cross-check to the fast plan shows that the hash joins don’t do any work at corresponding operations (although it also displays the oddity of operation that (we assume) didn’t actually run reporting a long Time Active.
  • The slow plan has an oddity at operation 41 – it’s an index range scan of a primary key (TCX_PK) that doesn’t report any execution statistics. Cross-checking to the slow plan we see that it’s operation 42 (which is also an index range scan, and using the same index !) that doesn’t report any execution statistics. We note that the fast plan “Starts” its range scan 2 million times, while the slow plan starts just once, starting at time +131 and having an active time of 1 second. [side-note: I am a little suspicious of that number – It looks to me as if it ought to be reporting 27 seconds]
  • Keep going – because just a bit further down we see that the slow plan has no stats for operations 45 and 46 (index range scan of TP_PK with table access of TP) while the fast plan has no stats for operations 47 and 48 (also an index range scan of TP_PK with table access to TP). Again we see the same pattern that the slow plan executes the operation just once while the fast plan executes its operations 2M times.
  • Keep going – the previous two observations are interesing and probably need further investigation, but they might not be critical. The very next line (operation 49) in both plans shows us a “TABLE ACCESS STORAGE FULL FIRST ROWS” that executes 2 million times – that’s got to hurt, surely, but let’s not get side-tracked just yet.
  • Operation 50 is a “VIEW PUSHED PREDICATE” – that almost certainly means it’s the second child of a nested loop join with a join predicate pushed into a non-mergeable view (and the view name is TEB_VW so it’s not a view created by an internal transformation) and the operation has, like so many other lines in the plan, started 2 million times.
  • Looking at the rest of the plan, there are no more statistics collectors and the plans have an exact match on operations. Unfortunately we don’t have a Predicate Information section, so we can’t tell whether matching operations were really doing the same thing e.g. was an index range scan in one plan using more columns to probe the index than the corresponging index range scan in the other plan. However we can check times:
  • The View Pushed Predicate in the fast plan starts at time +24 [Another slightly suspicious time given all the +2 starts in the locale] and is active for 256 seconds, while in the slow plan it starts at time +163 and is active for 506 seconds. So it looks as if a lot of the excess run time of the query time is spent in this part of the plan — for no logical reason that we can see.
  • Again we take a quick note, and move on. The final observation is that the last three lines of the plan look like the plan for a subquery block (executed very efficiently) of the “find the most recent / highest / lowest” type, and a quick check to the top of the plan shows that its parent is a FILTER operation, corroborating our first guess.

Starting to dig

Reviewing the first pass we can see that we lose a lot of “startup” time to the two hash joins where the build table in each case has to be completed before any further tables can be joined. This is in the order of 160 seconds, which is consistent with the OP’s observations, and it’s happening because adaptive plans are activated, triggering a change from nested loop joins to hash joins.

More significantly, from the perspective of time, is that the nested loop join into the View Pushed Predicate is active for twice as long in the slow plan as it is in the fast plan – so that’s a place to look a little more closely, revealing that operation 59 is probably the reason for the difference: 661 thousand read requests in the slow plan but none in the fast plan.

Unfortunately we don’t have any Activity Stats (i.e. active session history data) in the report, but since the access to the table is reported as unique access by unique index in both cases we can be fairly sure that the difference isn’t due to a difference in the Predicate Information (that isn’t in the report).

Clearly we need to stop the stop the adaptive plan from being taken to avoid the start-up delay – e.g. add a /*+ no_adaptive_plan */ hint to the query, but that still leaves two puzzles:

  1. why are the rows estimates so bad (and at least part of the reason for that is that it turned out that the query was being optimized with optimizer_mode = first_rows – that’s the legacy first_rows, not a cost-based first_rows_N);
  2. how could the same sub-plan result in far more physical reads in one case compared to the other when the critical operation is a unique index access.

The answer to the second question could be in an observation I first published 14 years ago – and it could indicate a generic threat to adaptive optimisation.

If you have an execution plan which, stripped to a minimum, looks like this:

Join Operation
        Table_X
        Table_Y

The order in which the result appears is likely to change depending on the join mechanism that Oracle chooses, viz Hash Join, Merge Join or Nested Loop Join.

Under “non-adaptive” conditions if you have a join that’s border-line between a hash join and a nested loop join it frequently means that the optimizer will fip flop between two plans like the following (leading to the classic question – nothing changed why did the plan change):

Hash Join
        Table_X
        Table_Y

Nested Loop Join
        Table_Y
        Table_X

Note that the order in which the tables appear is reversed.

As it says in another article of mine: all joins are nested loop joins, just with different startup costs”. In both the plans above Oracle picks a row from Table_Y and looks for a match in Table_X, so the order of the result set is dictated by the Table_Y regardless of whether the join is a hash join or a nested loop join. However, if Oracle has decided to use an adaptive plan and starts with the nested loop (Y -> X) and decides to switch to a hash join it doesn’t swap the join order as the join mechanism is selected, so a result set whose order would have been dictated by Table_Y turns into the same result set (we hope) but in an order dictated by Table_X.

Consequences:

If you’re using very big tables and Oracle produces an adaptive nested loop join early in the plan, this may result in a later nested loop being lucky and inducing lots of “self-caching” because its driving rowsource is in a nice order. If the plan adapts to a hash join the driving data set may appear in a completely different order that makes the later nested loop jump randomly around a very large table, inducing a lot of “self-flushing” as one table block is discarded from the buffer cache to make space for another. (I published an article several years ago about how a similar – though far from identical – type of anomaly could happen with Exadata and compression: an unlucky order of data access causing a massive extra workload.)

Conclusion and further thoughts

In this note I’ve tried to present my thoughts as I’ve read through an execution plan trying to understand what it’s doing and why it’s showing the performance characteristics it does.

In this case the interpretation was made harder because the plan was an adaptive plan – and there doesn’t appear to be an option in the procedure in dbms_sql_monitor to choose between hiding and revealing the adaptive parts [ed: this statement may apply only to the text option – see comment #1 for a counter-example using the ‘Active HTML” option]; moreover there was no Activity (ASH) information supplied and we didn’t have the Predicate Information.

The performance “issue” was that when adaptive plans were allowed (as opposed to reported only) we could see that two nested loops changed to hash joins. It was fairly clear that this explained the huge delay before results started to appear, but didn’t explain why the query took so much longer to complete.

We have a hypothesis that the extra run time of the query was due to “bad luck” because we can see very clearly that a nested loop into a non-mergeable view with pushed predicate reports a huge number of single block read requests; and we know that changing a join from a nested loop to a hash join without changing the order of the child operations will change the order in which the join’s rowsource is generated.

Ini this case the query was executing under the legacy first_rows optimizer mode, and it’s possible that if first_rows_N had been used the optimizer would have behaved differently, especially since we have a query that is returning 2M rows and we only want the first few rows.

Next Steps

The obvious “next step” in this investigation is to check whether first_rows_N co-operates nicely with adaptive optimisation. After all, the only significant thing that adaptive optimisation does to (serial) execution plans is set an inflexion point to dictate when a nested loop should change to a hash join – and a hash join is a blocking operation which is rarely a good thing for a first_rows_N plan.

So, does first_rows_N disable this adaptive plan analysis, does it move the inflection point significantly, or does the optimizer simply forget that hash joins are less desirable in first_rows N optimisation. And if you’re running a system in first_rows_N mode should you disable adaptive plans by default, and only enable it for special cases.

I also have an urge to test a couple of ideas about why the two timing anomalies I mentioned have appeared, but it’s already taken me several hours to write notes (including a few replies to the list server) about the 30 minutes I’ve spent looking at an execution plan, so that’s just another couple of items on my to-do list.

October 7, 2021

Hints and Costs

Filed under: 12c,CBO,Conditional SQL,Execution plans,Oracle — Jonathan Lewis @ 12:06 pm BST Oct 7,2021

This note is one I drafted three years ago, based on a question from the Oracle-L. It doesn’t directly address that question because at the time I was unable to create a data set that reproduced the problem’ but it did highlight a detail that’s worth mentioning, so I’ve finally got around to completing it (and testing on a couple of newer versions of Oracle).

I’ll start with a model that was supposed to demonstrate the problem behind the question:


rem
rem     Script:         122_or_expand.sql
rem     Author:         Jonathan Lewis
rem     Dated:          Aug 2018
rem     Purpose:        
rem
rem     Last tested
rem             21.3.0.0
rem             19.11.0.0
rem             12.2.0.1
rem

create table t1
segment creation immediate
pctfree 80 pctused 20
nologging
as
select
        *
from
        all_objects
where
        rownum <= 50000
;

alter table t1 add constraint t1_pk
        primary key(object_id)
        using index pctfree 80
;

variable b1 number
variable b2 number
variable b3 number
variable b4 number
variable b5 number
variable b6 number

exec :b1 := 100
exec :b2 := 120
exec :b3 := 1100
exec :b4 := 1220
exec :b5 := 3100
exec :b6 := 3320

set serveroutput off

select
        object_name
from 
        t1
where
        object_id between :b1 and :b2
or      object_id between :b3 and :b4
or      object_id between :b5 and :b6
;

select * from table(dbms_xplan.display_cursor(null,null,'outline'));


The critical feature of the query is the list of disjuncts (ORs) which all specify a range for object_id. The problem was that the query used a plan with an index full scan when there were no statistics on the table (or its indexes), but switched to a plan  that used index range scans when statistics were gathered – and the performance of the plan with the full scan was unacceptable.  (Clearly the “proper” solution is to have some suitable statistics in place – but sometimes such things are out of the control of the people who have to solve the problems.)

The /*+ index() */ and (undocumented) /*+ index_rs_asc() */ hints had no effect on the plan. The reason why the /*+ index() */ hint made no difference is because an index full scan is one of the ways in which the /*+ index() */ hint can be obeyed – the hint doesn’t instruct the optimizer to pick an index range scan. The hint /*+ index_rs_asc() */ specifically tells the optimizer to pick an index Range Scan ASCending if the hint has been specified correctly and the choice is available and legal. So why was the optimizer not doing as it was told. Without seeing the execution plan or CBO trace file from a live example I can’t guarantee that the following hypothesis is correct, but I think it’s in the right ball park.

I think the optimizer was probably using the (new to 12c) cost-based“OR expansion” transformation, which basically transformed the query into a UNION ALL of several index range scans – and that’s why its outline would show /*+ index_rs_asc() */ hints, and the hint would only become valid after the transformation had taken place so if Oracle didn’t consider (or considered and discarded) the transformation when there were no stats in place then the hint would have to be “Unused” (as the new 19c hint-report would say).

When I tried to model the problem the optimizer kept doing nice things with my data, so I wasn’t able to demonstrate the OP’s problem. However in one of my attempts to get a silly plan I did something silly – that can happen by accident if your client code isn’t careful! I’ll tell you what that was in a moment – first, a couple of plans.

As it stands, with the data and bind variables as shown, the optimizer used “b-tree / bitmap conversion” to produce an execution plan that did three separate index range scans, converts rowids to bit, OR-ed the bit-strings, then converted back to rowids before accessing the table:

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation                           | Name  | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     |
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT                    |       |       |       |    84 (100)|          |
|   1 |  TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID BATCHED| T1    |   291 | 12804 |    84   (5)| 00:00:01 |
|   2 |   BITMAP CONVERSION TO ROWIDS       |       |       |       |            |          |
|   3 |    BITMAP OR                        |       |       |       |            |          |
|   4 |     BITMAP CONVERSION FROM ROWIDS   |       |       |       |            |          |
|   5 |      SORT ORDER BY                  |       |       |       |            |          |
|*  6 |       INDEX RANGE SCAN              | T1_PK |       |       |     2   (0)| 00:00:01 |
|   7 |     BITMAP CONVERSION FROM ROWIDS   |       |       |       |            |          |
|   8 |      SORT ORDER BY                  |       |       |       |            |          |
|*  9 |       INDEX RANGE SCAN              | T1_PK |       |       |     2   (0)| 00:00:01 |
|  10 |     BITMAP CONVERSION FROM ROWIDS   |       |       |       |            |          |
|  11 |      SORT ORDER BY                  |       |       |       |            |          |
|* 12 |       INDEX RANGE SCAN              | T1_PK |       |       |     2   (0)| 00:00:01 |
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So the first thing I had to do was disable this feature, which I did by adding the hint /*+ opt_param(‘_b_tree_bitmap_plans’,’false’) */ to the query. This adjustment left Oracle doing the OR-expansion that I didn’t want to see:


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation                              | Name            | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     |
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT                       |                 |       |       |   297 (100)|          |
|   1 |  VIEW                                  | VW_ORE_BA8ECEFB |   288 | 19008 |   297   (1)| 00:00:01 |
|   2 |   UNION-ALL                            |                 |       |       |            |          |
|*  3 |    FILTER                              |                 |       |       |            |          |
|   4 |     TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID BATCHED| T1              |    18 |   792 |    20   (0)| 00:00:01 |
|*  5 |      INDEX RANGE SCAN                  | T1_PK           |    18 |       |     2   (0)| 00:00:01 |
|*  6 |    FILTER                              |                 |       |       |            |          |
|   7 |     TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID BATCHED| T1              |    97 |  4268 |   100   (0)| 00:00:01 |
|*  8 |      INDEX RANGE SCAN                  | T1_PK           |    97 |       |     2   (0)| 00:00:01 |
|*  9 |    FILTER                              |                 |       |       |            |          |
|  10 |     TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID BATCHED| T1              |   173 |  7612 |   177   (1)| 00:00:01 |
|* 11 |      INDEX RANGE SCAN                  | T1_PK           |   173 |       |     2   (0)| 00:00:01 |
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

You’ll notice that the three range scans have different row estimates and costs – that’s the effect of bind variable peeking and my careful choice of bind variables to define different sized ranges. Take note, by the way, for the three filter predicates flagged at operations 3, 6, and 9.  These are the “conditional plan” filters that say things like: “don’t run the sub-plan if the runtime value of :b5 is greater than :b6”.

Since I didn’t want to see OR-expansion just yet I then added the hint /*+ no_or_expand(@sel$1) */ to the query and that gave me a plan with tablescan:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation         | Name | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     |
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT  |      |       |       |   617 (100)|          |
|*  1 |  TABLE ACCESS FULL| T1   |   291 | 12804 |   617   (4)| 00:00:01 |
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

This was a shame because I really wanted to see the optimizer produce an index full scan at this point – so I decided to add an “unnamed index” hint to the growing list of hints – specifically: /*+ index_(@sel$1 t1@sel$1) */

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation                           | Name  | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     |
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT                    |       |       |       |   405 (100)|          |
|   1 |  TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID BATCHED| T1    |   291 | 12804 |   405   (2)| 00:00:01 |
|*  2 |   INDEX FULL SCAN                   | T1_PK |   291 |       |   112   (7)| 00:00:01 |
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This, of course, is where things started to get a little interesting – the index full scan costs less than the tablescan but didn’t appear until hinted. But after a moment’s thought you can dismiss this one (possibly correctly) as an example of the optimizer being cautious about the cost of access paths that are dictated by bind variables or unpeekable inputs. (But these bind variables were peekable – so maybe there’s more to it than that – I was still trying to get to a point where my model would behave more like the OP’s, so I didn’t follow up on this detail: maybe in a couple of years time … ).

Once last tweak – and that will bring me to the main point of this note. In my original code I was using three ranges dictated by 3 pairs of bind variables, for example [:b5, :b6]. What would happen if I made :b5 greater than :b6, say I swapped their values?

The original btree/bitmap plan didn’t change, but where I had simply blocked bree/bitmap plans and seen OR-expansion as a result the plan changed to a full tablescan (with the cost you saw above of 617). So tried again, adding the hint /*+ or_expand(@sel$1) */ to see why; and this is the plan I got:

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation                              | Name            | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     |
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT                       |                 |       |       |   735 (100)|          |
|   1 |  VIEW                                  | VW_ORE_BA8ECEFB |   116 |  7656 |   735   (3)| 00:00:01 |
|   2 |   UNION-ALL                            |                 |       |       |            |          |
|*  3 |    FILTER                              |                 |       |       |            |          |
|   4 |     TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID BATCHED| T1              |    18 |   792 |    20   (0)| 00:00:01 |
|*  5 |      INDEX RANGE SCAN                  | T1_PK           |    18 |       |     2   (0)| 00:00:01 |
|*  6 |    FILTER                              |                 |       |       |            |          |
|   7 |     TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID BATCHED| T1              |    97 |  4268 |   100   (0)| 00:00:01 |
|*  8 |      INDEX RANGE SCAN                  | T1_PK           |    97 |       |     2   (0)| 00:00:01 |
|*  9 |    FILTER                              |                 |       |       |            |          |
|* 10 |     TABLE ACCESS FULL                  | T1              |     1 |    44 |   615   (4)| 00:00:01 |
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I still get the same three branches in the expansion, but look what’s happened to the sub-plan for the third pair of bind variables. The optimizer still has the FILTER at operation 9 – and that will evaluate to FALSE for the currently peeked values; but the optimizer has decided that it should use a tablescan for this part of the query if it ever gets a pair of bind variables in the right order; and the cost of the tablescan has echoed up the plan to make the total cost of the plan 735, which is (for obvious reasons) higher than the cost of running the whole query as a single tablescan.

The same anomaly appears in 19.11.0.0 and 21.3.0.0. On the plus side, it’s possible that if you have code like this the optimizer will be using the btree/bitmap conversion anyway;

tl;dr

As a generic point it’s worth ensuring that if you’re using bind variables in client code to define ranges then you’ve got to get the values in the right order otherwise one day the answer to the question “nothing changed why is the query running so slowly?” will be “someone got in first with the bound values the wrong way round”.

September 3, 2021

Ordered hint

Filed under: Execution plans,Hints,Oracle — Jonathan Lewis @ 6:49 pm BST Sep 3,2021

It’s been such a long time since Oracle deprecated the /*+ ordered */ hint that I can’t remember when it happened. The hint you should be using is the /*+ leading(…) */ hint which initially – maybe some time in 9i – would only allow you to specify the first table that the optimizer should use when examining join orders, but which soon changed to allow you to specify a complete join order.

I’ve written a few notes about the need to get rid of any /*+ ordered */ hints in production SQL because it can produce a join order you’re not expecting. I’ve just found an extreme case of this running a quick test on 19.11.0.0 then 21.3.0.0

I’m not going to bother with the data setup for the query but it’s a simple parent/child query that exhibits a surprising pattern. Here’s the query:

select
        /*+
                no_adaptive_plan
                ordered
                use_nl(ch)
        */
        par.n1,
        par.small_vc,
        sum(ch.n1)
from
        parent par,
        child ch
where
        par.n1 <= 20
and     ch.id_par = par.id
group by
        par.n1,
        par.small_vc
;

And here’s the plan, pulled from memory with a call to dbms_xplan.display_cursor() with /*+ ordered hint */ in place. I’ve included the outline information, hint report and (since this is from 21c) the query block registry:

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation              | Name     | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     |
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT       |          |       |       |    32 (100)|          |
|   1 |  HASH GROUP BY         |          |    20 |   780 |    32   (7)| 00:00:01 |
|*  2 |   HASH JOIN            |          |    20 |   780 |    31   (4)| 00:00:01 |
|   3 |    JOIN FILTER CREATE  | :BF0000  |    20 |   440 |     8   (0)| 00:00:01 |
|   4 |     VIEW               | VW_GBF_6 |    20 |   440 |     8   (0)| 00:00:01 |
|*  5 |      TABLE ACCESS FULL | PARENT   |    20 |   380 |     8   (0)| 00:00:01 |
|   6 |    VIEW                | VW_GBC_5 |  1000 | 17000 |    23   (5)| 00:00:01 |
|   7 |     HASH GROUP BY      |          |  1000 |  8000 |    23   (5)| 00:00:01 |
|   8 |      JOIN FILTER USE   | :BF0000  |  4000 | 32000 |    22   (0)| 00:00:01 |
|*  9 |       TABLE ACCESS FULL| CHILD    |  4000 | 32000 |    22   (0)| 00:00:01 |
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Outline Data
-------------
  /*+
      BEGIN_OUTLINE_DATA
      IGNORE_OPTIM_EMBEDDED_HINTS
      OPTIMIZER_FEATURES_ENABLE('21.1.0')
      DB_VERSION('21.1.0')
      ALL_ROWS
      OUTLINE_LEAF(@"SEL$D2EA58F1")
      ELIM_GROUPBY(@"SEL$FFB6458A")
      OUTLINE_LEAF(@"SEL$FE9D3122")
      OUTLINE_LEAF(@"SEL$E2E47E3A")
      PLACE_GROUP_BY(@"SEL$1" ( "PAR"@"SEL$1" ) ( "CH"@"SEL$1" ) 5)
      OUTLINE(@"SEL$FFB6458A")
      ELIM_GROUPBY(@"SEL$1D9E464A")
      OUTLINE(@"SEL$E26B953F")
      OUTLINE(@"SEL$1")
      OUTLINE(@"SEL$1D9E464A")
      OUTLINE(@"SEL$E132E821")
      NO_ACCESS(@"SEL$E2E47E3A" "VW_GBF_6"@"SEL$E132E821")
      NO_ACCESS(@"SEL$E2E47E3A" "VW_GBC_5"@"SEL$E26B953F")
      LEADING(@"SEL$E2E47E3A" "VW_GBF_6"@"SEL$E132E821"
              "VW_GBC_5"@"SEL$E26B953F")
      USE_HASH(@"SEL$E2E47E3A" "VW_GBC_5"@"SEL$E26B953F")
      PX_JOIN_FILTER(@"SEL$E2E47E3A" "VW_GBC_5"@"SEL$E26B953F")
      USE_HASH_AGGREGATION(@"SEL$E2E47E3A" GROUP_BY)
      FULL(@"SEL$D2EA58F1" "PAR"@"SEL$1")
      FULL(@"SEL$FE9D3122" "CH"@"SEL$1")
      USE_HASH_AGGREGATION(@"SEL$FE9D3122" GROUP_BY)
      END_OUTLINE_DATA
  */

Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
---------------------------------------------------

   2 - access("ITEM_1"="ITEM_1")
   5 - filter("PAR"."N1"<=20)
   9 - filter(SYS_OP_BLOOM_FILTER(:BF0000,"CH"."ID_PAR"))

Hint Report (identified by operation id / Query Block Name / Object Alias):
Total hints for statement: 3 (U - Unused (1))
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

   0 -  STATEMENT
           -  no_adaptive_plan

   1 -  SEL$E2E47E3A
           -  ordered

   9 -  SEL$FE9D3122 / "CH"@"SEL$1"
         U -  use_nl(ch)

Query Block Registry:
---------------------

  SEL$1 (PARSER)
    SEL$E26B953F (QUERY BLOCK TABLES CHANGED SEL$1)
      SEL$E132E821 (QUERY BLOCK TABLES CHANGED SEL$E26B953F)
        SEL$1D9E464A (SPLIT/MERGE QUERY BLOCKS SEL$E132E821)
          SEL$FFB6458A (ELIMINATION OF GROUP BY SEL$1D9E464A)
            SEL$D2EA58F1 (ELIMINATION OF GROUP BY SEL$FFB6458A) [FINAL]
      SEL$FE9D3122 (SPLIT/MERGE QUERY BLOCKS SEL$E26B953F) [FINAL]
    SEL$E2E47E3A (PLACE GROUP BY SEL$1) [FINAL]

The optimizer seems to have got rather carried away with how clever it cn be; so here’s the result of switching from /*+ ordered */ to using /*+ leading(par ch) */ – I won’t bother with all the extras since it’s a very simple plan:

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation                     | Name   | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     |
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT              |        |       |       |   109 (100)|          |
|   1 |  HASH GROUP BY                |        |    80 |  2160 |   109   (1)| 00:00:01 |
|   2 |   NESTED LOOPS                |        |    80 |  2160 |   108   (0)| 00:00:01 |
|   3 |    NESTED LOOPS               |        |    80 |  2160 |   108   (0)| 00:00:01 |
|*  4 |     TABLE ACCESS FULL         | PARENT |    20 |   380 |     8   (0)| 00:00:01 |
|*  5 |     INDEX RANGE SCAN          | CHI_PK |     4 |       |     1   (0)| 00:00:01 |
|   6 |    TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID| CHILD  |     4 |    32 |     5   (0)| 00:00:01 |
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
---------------------------------------------------

   4 - filter("PAR"."N1"<=20)
   5 - access("CH"."ID_PAR"="PAR"."ID")


tl;dr

You should not be using the /*+ ordered */ hint in any recent version of Oracle.

August 23, 2021

Distributed Query

Filed under: distributed,Execution plans,Hints,Oracle,subqueries,Transformations,Troubleshooting — Jonathan Lewis @ 5:24 pm BST Aug 23,2021

Here’s an example that appeared on the Oracle Developer Community forum about a year ago that prompted me to do a little investigative work. The question involved a distributed query that was “misbehaving” – the interesting points were the appearance of the /*+ rule */ and /*+ driving_site() */ hints in the original query when combined with a suggestion to address the problem using the /*+ materialize */ hint with factored subqueries (common table expressions – CTEs), or when combined with my suggestion to use the /*+ no_merge */ hint.

If you don’t want to read the whole article there’s a tl;dr summary just before the end.

The original question was posed with a handful of poorly constructed code fragments that were supposed to describe the problem, viz:


select /*+ DRIVING_SITE (s1) */ * from  Table1 s1 WHERE condition in (select att1 from local_table) ; -- query n°1

select /*+ RULE DRIVING_SITE (s2) */  * from  Table2 s2 where  condition in (select att1 from local_table); -- query n°2

select * from
select /*+ DRIVING_SITE (s1) */ * from  Table1 s1 WHERE condition in (select att1 from local_table) ,
select /*+ RULE DRIVING_SITE (s2) */  * from  Table2 s2 where  condition in (select att1 from local_table)
where att_table_1 = att_table_2  -- sic

The crux of the problem was that the two separate statements individually produced an acceptable execution plan but the attempt to use the queries in inline views with a join resulted in a plan that (from the description) sounded like the result of Oracle merging the two inline views and running the two IN subqueries as FILTER (existence) subqueries.

We weren’t shown any execution plans and only had the title of the question (“Distributed sql query through multiple databases”) to give us the clue that there might be three different databases involved.

Obviously there are several questions worth asking when presented with this problem. The first being “can we have a more realistic piece of code”, also “which vesion of Oracle”, and “where are the execution plans”. I can’t help feeling that there’s more to the problem than just the three tables that seem to be suggested by the fragments supplied.

More significant, though, was the surprise that rule and driving_site should work together. There’s a long-standing (but incorrect) assertion that “any other hint invalidates the RULE hint”. I think I’ve published an example somewhere showing that /*+ unnest */ would affect an execution plan where the optimizer still obeyed the /*+ rule */ hint, and there’s an old post on this blog which points out that transformation and optimisation are (or were, at the time) independent of each other, implying that you could combine the rule hint with “transformational” hints and still end up with a rule-based execution plan.

Despite old memories suggesting the contrary my first thought was that the rule and driving_site hints couldn’t be working together – and that made it worth running a little test. Then one of the other specialists on the forums suggested using subquery factoring with the materialize hint – and I thought that probably wouldn’t help because when you insert into a global temporary table the driving site has to become the site that holds the global temporary tables (in fact this isn’t just a feature of GTTs). So there was another thing prompting me to run a test. (And then I suggested using the /*+ no_merge */ hint – but thought I’d check if that idea was going to work before I suggested it.)

So here’s a code sample to create some data, and the first two simple queries with calls for their predicted execution plans:

rem
rem     Script:         distributed_multi.sql
rem     Author:         Jonathan Lewis
rem     Dated:          Jul 2020
rem     Purpose:
rem
rem     Last tested
rem             19.3.0.0
rem             12.2.0.1
rem             11.2.0.4
rem

rem     create public database link test@loopback using 'test';
rem     create public database link test2@loopback using 'test2';

rem     create public database link orcl@loopback using 'orcl';
rem     create public database link orcl2@loopback using 'orcl2';

rem     create public database link orclpdb@loopback using 'orclpdb';
rem     create public database link orclpdb2@loopback using 'orclpdb2';

define m_target=test@loopback
define m_target2=test2@loopback

define m_target=orcl@loopback
define m_target2=orcl2@loopback

define m_target=orclpdb@loopback
define m_target2=orclpdb2@loopback

create table t0
as
select  *
from    all_objects
where   mod(object_id,4) = 1
;

create table t1
as
select  *
from    all_objects
where   mod(object_id,11) = 0
;

create table t2
as
select  *
from    all_Objects
where   mod(object_id,13) = 0
;

explain plan for
select  /*+ driving_site(t1) */
        t1.object_name, t1.object_id
from    t1@&m_target    t1
where
        t1.object_id in (
                select  t0.object_id
                from    t0
        )
;

select * from table(dbms_xplan.display);

explain plan for
select
        /*+ rule driving_site(t2) */
        t2.object_name, t2.object_id
from    t2@&m_target2   t2
where
        t2.object_id in (
                select  t0.object_id
                from    t0
        )
;

select * from table(dbms_xplan.display);

Reading from the top down – t0 is in the local database, t1 is in remote database 1, t2 is in remote database 2. I’ve indicated the creation and selection of a pair of public database links at the top of the script – in this case both of them are loopback links to the local database, but I’ve used substitition variables in the SQL to allow me to adjust which databases are the remote ones. Since there are no indexes on any of the tables the optimizer is very limited in its choice of execution plans, which are as follows in 19.3 (the oraclepdb/orclpdb2 links).

First, the query against t1@orclpdb1 – which will run cost-based:


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation              | Name | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     | Inst   |IN-OUT|
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT REMOTE|      |  5168 |   287K|    57   (8)| 00:00:01 |        |      |
|*  1 |  HASH JOIN SEMI        |      |  5168 |   287K|    57   (8)| 00:00:01 |        |      |
|   2 |   TABLE ACCESS FULL    | T1   |  5168 |   222K|    16   (7)| 00:00:01 | ORCLP~ |      |
|   3 |   REMOTE               | T0   | 14058 |   178K|    40   (5)| 00:00:01 |      ! | R->S |
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
---------------------------------------------------
   1 - access("A1"."OBJECT_ID"="A2"."OBJECT_ID")

Remote SQL Information (identified by operation id):
----------------------------------------------------
   3 - SELECT "OBJECT_ID" FROM "T0" "A2" (accessing '!' )

Note
-----
   - fully remote statement

You’ll note that operation 3 is simply REMOTE, and t0 is the object accessed – which means this query is behaving as if the (local) t0 table is the remote one as far as the execution plan is concerned. The IN-OUT column tells us that this operation is “Remote to Serial” (R->S)” and the instance called to is named “!” which is how the local database is identified in the plan from a remote database.

We can also see that the execution plan gives us the “Remote SQL Information” for operation 2 – and that’s the text of the query that gets sent by the driving site to the instance that holds the object of interest. In this case the query is simply selecting the object_id values from all the rows in t0.

Now the plan for the query against t2@orclpdb2 which includes a /*+ rule */ hint:

-----------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation              | Name     | Inst   |IN-OUT|
-----------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT REMOTE|          |        |      |
|   1 |  MERGE JOIN            |          |        |      |
|   2 |   SORT JOIN            |          |        |      |
|   3 |    TABLE ACCESS FULL   | T2       | ORCLP~ |      |
|*  4 |   SORT JOIN            |          |        |      |
|   5 |    VIEW                | VW_NSO_1 | ORCLP~ |      |
|   6 |     SORT UNIQUE        |          |        |      |
|   7 |      REMOTE            | T0       |      ! | R->S |
-----------------------------------------------------------

Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
---------------------------------------------------
   4 - access("A1"."OBJECT_ID"="OBJECT_ID")
       filter("A1"."OBJECT_ID"="OBJECT_ID")

Remote SQL Information (identified by operation id):
----------------------------------------------------
   7 - SELECT /*+ RULE */ "OBJECT_ID" FROM "T0" "A2" (accessing '!' )

Note
-----
   - fully remote statement
   - rule based optimizer used (consider using cbo)

The most striking feature of this plan is that it is an RBO (rule based optimizer) plan not a cost-based plan – and the Note section confirms that observation. We can also see that the Remote SQL Information is echoing the /*+ RULE */ hint back in it’s query against t0. Since the query is operating rule-based the hash join mechanism is not available (it’s a costed path – it needs to know the size of the data that will be used in the build table), and that’s why the plan is using a sort/merge join.

Following the “incremental build” strategy for writing SQL all we have to do as the next step of producing the final code is put the two queries into separate views and join them:


explain plan for
select  v1.*, v2.*
from    (
        select  /*+ driving_site(t1) */
                t1.object_name, t1.object_id
        from    t1@&m_target    t1
        where
                t1.object_id in (
                        select  t0.object_id
                        from    t0
                )
        )       v1,
        (
        select
                /*+ rule driving_site(t2) */
                t2.object_name, t2.object_id
        from    t2@&m_target2 t2
        where
                t2.object_id in (
                        select  t0.object_id
                        from    t0
                )
        )       v2
where
        v1.object_id = v2.object_id
;

select * from table(dbms_xplan.display);

And here’s the execution plan – which, I have to admit, gave me a bit of a surprise on two counts when I first saw it:


-----------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation              | Name     | Inst   |IN-OUT|
-----------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT       |          |        |      |
|   1 |  MERGE JOIN            |          |        |      |
|   2 |   MERGE JOIN           |          |        |      |
|   3 |    MERGE JOIN          |          |        |      |
|   4 |     SORT JOIN          |          |        |      |
|   5 |      REMOTE            | T2       | ORCLP~ | R->S |
|*  6 |     SORT JOIN          |          |        |      |
|   7 |      REMOTE            | T1       | ORCLP~ | R->S |
|*  8 |    SORT JOIN           |          |        |      |
|   9 |     VIEW               | VW_NSO_1 |        |      |
|  10 |      SORT UNIQUE       |          |        |      |
|  11 |       TABLE ACCESS FULL| T0       |        |      |
|* 12 |   SORT JOIN            |          |        |      |
|  13 |    VIEW                | VW_NSO_2 |        |      |
|  14 |     SORT UNIQUE        |          |        |      |
|  15 |      TABLE ACCESS FULL | T0       |        |      |
-----------------------------------------------------------

Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
---------------------------------------------------
   6 - access("T1"."OBJECT_ID"="T2"."OBJECT_ID")
       filter("T1"."OBJECT_ID"="T2"."OBJECT_ID")
   8 - access("T2"."OBJECT_ID"="OBJECT_ID")
       filter("T2"."OBJECT_ID"="OBJECT_ID")
  12 - access("T1"."OBJECT_ID"="OBJECT_ID")
       filter("T1"."OBJECT_ID"="OBJECT_ID")

Remote SQL Information (identified by operation id):
----------------------------------------------------
   5 - SELECT /*+ RULE */ "OBJECT_NAME","OBJECT_ID" FROM "T2" "T2"
       (accessing 'ORCLPDB2.LOCALDOMAIN@LOOPBACK' )

   7 - SELECT /*+ RULE */ "OBJECT_NAME","OBJECT_ID" FROM "T1" "T1"
       (accessing 'ORCLPDB.LOCALDOMAIN@LOOPBACK' )

Note
-----
   - rule based optimizer used (consider using cbo)

The two surprises were that (a) the entire plan was rule-based, and (b) the driving_site() selection has disappeared from the plan.

Of course as soon as I actually started thinking about what I’d written (instead of trusting the knee-jerk “just stick the two bits together”) the flaw in the strategy became obvious.

  • Either the whole query runs RBO or it runs CBO – you can’t split the planning.
  • In the words of The Highlander “There can be only one” (driving site that is) – only one of the database involved will decide how to decompose and distribute the query.

It’s an interesting detail that the /*+ rule */ hint seems to have pushed the whole query into the arms of the RBO despite being buried somewhere in the depths of the query rather than being in the top level query block – but we’ve seen that before in some old data dictionary views.

The complete disregard for the driving_site() hints is less interesting – there is, after all, a comment in the manuals somewhere to the effect that when two hints contradict each other they are both ignored. (But I did wonder why the Hint Report that should appear with 19.3 plans didn’t tell me that the hints had been observed but not used.)

The other problem (from the perspective of the OP) is that the two inline views have been merged so the join order no longer reflects the two isolated components we used to have. So let’s fiddle around a little bit to see how close we can get to what the OP wants. The first step would be to add the /*+ no_merge */ hint to both inline view, and eliminate one of the /*+ driving_site() */ hints to see what happens, and since we’re modern we’ll also get rid of the /*+ rule */ hint:


explain plan for
select  v1.*, v2.*
from    (
        select  /*+ qb_name(subq1) no_merge driving_site(t1) */
                t1.object_name, t1.object_id
        from    t1@&m_target    t1
        where
                t1.object_id in (
                        select  t0.object_id
                        from    t0
                )
        )       v1,
        (
        select
                /*+ qb_name(subq2) no_merge */
                t2.object_name, t2.object_id
        from    t2@&m_target2 t2
        where
                t2.object_id in (
                        select  t0.object_id
                        from    t0
                )
        )       v2
where
        v1.object_id = v2.object_id
;

select * from table(dbms_xplan.display);

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation              | Name | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     | Inst   |IN-OUT|
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT REMOTE|      |  4342 |   669K|    72   (9)| 00:00:01 |        |      |
|*  1 |  HASH JOIN             |      |  4342 |   669K|    72   (9)| 00:00:01 |        |      |
|   2 |   VIEW                 |      |  4342 |   334K|    14   (8)| 00:00:01 |        |      |
|   3 |    REMOTE              |      |       |       |            |          |      ! | R->S |
|   4 |   VIEW                 |      |  5168 |   398K|    57   (8)| 00:00:01 |        |      |
|*  5 |    HASH JOIN SEMI      |      |  5168 |   287K|    57   (8)| 00:00:01 |        |      |
|   6 |     TABLE ACCESS FULL  | T1   |  5168 |   222K|    16   (7)| 00:00:01 | ORCLP~ |      |
|   7 |     REMOTE             | T0   | 14058 |   178K|    40   (5)| 00:00:01 |      ! | R->S |
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
---------------------------------------------------
   1 - access("A2"."OBJECT_ID"="A1"."OBJECT_ID")
   5 - access("A3"."OBJECT_ID"="A6"."OBJECT_ID")

Remote SQL Information (identified by operation id):
----------------------------------------------------
   3 - EXPLAIN PLAN INTO "PLAN_TABLE" FOR SELECT /*+ QB_NAME ("SUBQ2") NO_MERGE */
       "A1"."OBJECT_NAME","A1"."OBJECT_ID" FROM  (SELECT DISTINCT "A3"."OBJECT_ID"
       "OBJECT_ID" FROM "T0" "A3") "A2","T2"@ORCLPDB2.LOCALDOMAIN@LOOPBACK "A1" WHERE
       "A1"."OBJECT_ID"="A2"."OBJECT_ID" (accessing '!' )

   7 - SELECT "OBJECT_ID" FROM "T0" "A6" (accessing '!' )

Note
-----
   - fully remote statement

In this plan we can see that the /*+ driving_site() */ hint has been applied – the plan is presented from the point of view of orclpdb (the database holding t1). The order of the two inline views has apparently been reversed as we move from the statement to its plan – but that’s just a minor side effect of the hash join (picking the smaller result set as the build table).

Operations 5 – 7 tell us that t1 is treated as the local table and used for the build table in a hash semi-join, and then t0 is accessed by a call back to our database and its result set is used as the probe table.

From operation 3 (in the body of the plan, and in the Remote SQL Information) we see that orclpdb has handed off the entire t2 query block to a remote operation – which is ‘accessing “!”. But there’s a problem (in my opinion) in the SQL that it’s handing off – the text is NOT the text of our inline view; it’s already been through a heuristic transformation that has unnested the IN subquery of our original text into a “join distinct view” – if we had used a hint to force this transformation it would have been the /*+ unnest(UNNEST_INNERJ_DISTINCT_VIEW) */ variant.

SELECT /*+ NO_MERGE */
        "A1"."OBJECT_NAME","A1"."OBJECT_ID"
FROM
       (SELECT DISTINCT "A3"."OBJECT_ID" "OBJECT_ID" FROM "T0" "A3") "A2",
       "T2"@ORCLPDB2.LOCALDOMAIN@LOOPBACK "A1"
WHERE
        "A1"."OBJECT_ID"="A2"."OBJECT_ID"

I tried to change this by adding alternative versions of the /* unnest() */ hint to the original query, following the query block names indicated by the outline information (not shown), but it looks as if the code path constructs the Remote SQL operates without considering the main query hints – perhaps the decomposition code is simply following the code path of the old heuristic “I’ll do it if it’s legal” unnest. The drawback to this is that if the original form of the text had been sent to the other site the optimizer that had to handle it could have used cost-based query transformation and may have come up with a better plan.

You may be wondering why I left the /*+ driving_site() */ hint in one of the inline views rather than inserting it in the main query block. The answer is simple – it didn’t seem to work (even in 19.3) when I put /*+ driving_site(t1@subq1) */ in the main query block.

tl;dr

The optimizer has to operate rule-based or cost-based, it can’t do a bit of both in the same query – so if you’ve got a /*+ RULE */ hint that takes effect anywhere in the query the entire query will be optimised under the rule-based optimizer.

There can be only one driving site for a query, and if you manage to get multiple driving_site() hints in a query that contradict each other the optimizer will ignore all of them.

When the optimizer decomposes a distributed query and produces non-trivial components to send to remote sites you may find that some of the queries constructed for the remote sites have been subject to transformations that you cannot influence by hinting.

Footnote

I mentioned factored subqueries and the /*+ materialize */ option in the opening notes. In plans where the attempt to specify the driving site failed (i.e. when the query ran locally) the factored subqueries did materialize. In any plans where the driving site was a remote site the factored subqueries were always inline. This may well be related to the documented (though not always implemented) restriction that temporary tables cannot take part in distributed transactions.

March 12, 2021

Distributed Sequences

Filed under: distributed,Execution plans,Oracle,Performance,Problem Solving — Jonathan Lewis @ 9:09 am GMT Mar 12,2021

A request for help came up some time ago on ODC reporting a query that was hanging when it included a sequence.nextval. In fact the intial “query” was an “insert as select” with a select that was a join of two remote tables.

Making the fairly automatic assumption that many people say “hanging” when they really mean “hasn’t finished yet” the first thought I had about the structure of the statement was that it was just a variation of the standard problem of distributed DML. I haven’t written anything previously about how using sequences can introduce the problem so here’s a note to demonstrate the issue and suggest a workaround:

We start with a database link and a few tables:


rem
rem     Script:         distributed_sequence.sql
rem     Author:         Jonathan Lewis
rem     Dated:          June 2019
rem     Purpose:        
rem
rem     Last tested 
rem             19.3.0.0
rem             18.3.0.0
rem             12.2.0.1
rem

rem     create public database link orcl@loopback using 'orcl';

define m_target=orcl@loopback

create sequence s1 cache 10000;
select s1.nextval from dual;

create table t1
segment creation immediate
nologging
as
with generator as (
        select 
                rownum id
        from dual 
        connect by 
                level <= 1e4    -- > comment to avoid WordPress format issue
)
select
        rownum                          id,
        rownum                          n1,
        lpad(rownum,10,'0')             v1,
        lpad('x',100,'x')               padding
from
        generator       v1
;

create table t2
nologging
as
with generator as (
        select 
                rownum id
        from dual 
        connect by 
                level <= 1e4    -- > comment to avoid WordPress format issue
)
select
        rownum                          id,
        rownum                          n2,
        lpad(rownum,10,'0')             v2,
        lpad('x',100,'x')               padding
from
        generator       v1
;

create table t3(
        id1     number(6,0),
        id2     number(6,0),
        n0      number(6,0),
        n1      number(6,0),
        n2      number(6,0),
        v1      varchar2(10),
        v2      varchar2(10)
)
segment creation immediate
;

create or replace view v1 as
select
        t1.id id1,
        t2.id id2,
        t1.n1,
        t2.n2,
        t1.v1,
        t2.v2
from
        t1, t2
where
        t2.id = t1.id
;

The command to create a public database link (one example of the many optional commands in my original source) has to be run by a suitably privileged schema as a one-off event. The definition of the substitution variable m_target that I’ll be using as my database link (again with many possibilities in my original script) means I only have to edit my choice of database link once in my script as I change Oracle instances. You’ll notice I’ve done my usual trick of using a loopback database link to emulate a distributed system.

I’ve then created two populated tables (t1, t2) and a third empty table (t3) that will be the target of an insert. I’ve also created a view (v1) that joins the first two tables and a sequence (s1) that I’ve primed with a single call to nextval. When I get to the tests I’ll be using t1, t2 and v1 as if they had been created in the remote database (referenced through my loopback database link) while t3 and s1 will be local objects.

So let’s run a couple of statements and see what their execution plans look like:


set serveroutput off

prompt  =======================
prompt  Insert without sequence
prompt  =======================

insert into t3 (id1, id2, n0, n1, n2, v1, v2)
select
        t1.id,
        t2.id,
        0,
        t1.n1,
        t2.n2,
        t1.v1,
        t2.v2
from
        t1@&m_target    t1,
        t2@&m_target    t2
where
        t2.id = t1.id
;

select * from table(dbms_xplan.display_cursor(format=>'-plan_hash'));

prompt  =======================
prompt  Insert WITH sequence
prompt  =======================

insert into t3 (id1, id2, n0, n1, n2, v1, v2)
select
        t1.id,
        t2.id,
        s1.nextval,
        t1.n1,
        t2.n2,
        t1.v1,
        t2.v2
from
        t1@&m_target    t1,
        t2@&m_target    t2
where
        t2.id = t1.id
;

select * from table(dbms_xplan.display_cursor(format=>'-plan_hash'));
commit;

The code joins t1 and t2, selects a couple of columns and inserts then into t3 without or with a call to s1.nextval (the local sequence). Here’s the output (with minor cosmetic changes) from executing this code under 19.3.0.0 (the effects are the same in 18.3.0.0 and 12.2.0.1):


=======================
Insert without sequence
=======================

10000 rows created.


SQL_ID  373nz810u3frv, child number 0
-------------------------------------
insert into t3 (id1, id2, n0, n1, n2, v1, v2) select  t1.id,  t2.id,
0,  t1.n1,  t2.n2,  t1.v1,  t2.v2 from  t1@orclpdb@loopback t1,
t2@orclpdb@loopback t2 where  t2.id = t1.id

-----------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation                | Name | Cost  | Inst   |IN-OUT|
-----------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | INSERT STATEMENT         |      |     1 |        |      |
|   1 |  LOAD TABLE CONVENTIONAL | T3   |       |        |      |
|   2 |   REMOTE                 |      |       | ORCLP~ | R->S |
-----------------------------------------------------------------

Remote SQL Information (identified by operation id):
----------------------------------------------------
   2 - SELECT "A2"."ID","A1"."ID",0,"A2"."N1","A1"."N2","A2"."V1","A1"."
       V2" FROM "T1" "A2","T2" "A1" WHERE "A1"."ID"="A2"."ID" (accessing
       'ORCLPDB.LOCALDOMAIN@LOOPBACK' )

Note
-----
   - cpu costing is off (consider enabling it)


=======================
Insert WITH sequence
=======================

10000 rows created.


SQL_ID  8jg23arujnh01, child number 0
-------------------------------------
insert into t3 (id1, id2, n0, n1, n2, v1, v2) select  t1.id,  t2.id,
s1.nextval,  t1.n1,  t2.n2,  t1.v1,  t2.v2 from  t1@orclpdb@loopback
t1,  t2@orclpdb@loopback t2 where  t2.id = t1.id

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation                | Name | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     | Inst   |IN-OUT|
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | INSERT STATEMENT         |      |       |       |    54 (100)|          |        |      |
|   1 |  LOAD TABLE CONVENTIONAL | T3   |       |       |            |          |        |      |
|   2 |   SEQUENCE               | S1   |       |       |            |          |        |      |
|*  3 |    HASH JOIN             |      | 10000 |   937K|    54   (8)| 00:00:01 |        |      |
|   4 |     REMOTE               | T1   | 10000 |   468K|    26   (4)| 00:00:01 | ORCLP~ | R->S |
|   5 |     REMOTE               | T2   | 10000 |   468K|    26   (4)| 00:00:01 | ORCLP~ | R->S |
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
---------------------------------------------------
   3 - access("T2"."ID"="T1"."ID")

Remote SQL Information (identified by operation id):
----------------------------------------------------
   4 - SELECT /*+ OPAQUE_TRANSFORM */ "ID","N1","V1" FROM "T1" "A2" (accessing
       'ORCLPDB.LOCALDOMAIN@LOOPBACK' )

   5 - SELECT /*+ OPAQUE_TRANSFORM */ "ID","N2","V2" FROM "T2" "A1" (accessing
       'ORCLPDB.LOCALDOMAIN@LOOPBACK' )

The key thing to notice is that when we want to insert the local sequence as a column in the select list Oracle breaks the hash join into two separate accesses to the remote database and pulls all the data we might need from the two tables before trying to join them locally. When the query is “fully remote” the local database can let the remote database deal with the join, when the query is distributed – which is a side effect of introducing the sequence – the local site becomes the driving site and has to work out the least worst way of handling the join, which might be much slower than the remote join.  (It’s an odd little quirk that when the select is fully remote the optimizer thinks that it’s not using CPU costing. Possibly that’s because all the arithmetic happens somewhere else and the local cost of the query never gets above zero.)

This is one of those cases where we might work around the problem by creating a remote view to handle the join – hence the creation of the view v1; here’s a suitable statement and the resulting execution plan:

prompt  ==============================
prompt  Insert using view and sequence
prompt  ==============================

set serveroutput off

insert into t3 (id1, id2, n0, n1, n2, v1, v2)
select
        v1.id1,
        v1.id2,
        s1.nextval,
        v1.n1,
        v1.n2,
        v1.v1,
        v1.v2
from
        v1@&m_target v1
;

select * from table(dbms_xplan.display_cursor(format=>'-plan_hash'));
commit;



==============================
Insert using view and sequence
==============================

10000 rows created.


SQL_ID  4tz0rrqt87nb8, child number 0
-------------------------------------
insert into t3 (id1, id2, n0, n1, n2, v1, v2) select  v1.id1,  v1.id2,
s1.nextval,  v1.n1,  v1.n2,  v1.v1,  v1.v2 from  v1@orclpdb@loopback v1

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation                | Name | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     | Inst   |IN-OUT|
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | INSERT STATEMENT         |      |       |       |    27 (100)|          |        |      |
|   1 |  LOAD TABLE CONVENTIONAL | T3   |       |       |            |          |        |      |
|   2 |   SEQUENCE               | S1   |       |       |            |          |        |      |
|   3 |    REMOTE                | V1   | 10000 |   937K|    27   (8)| 00:00:01 | ORCLP~ | R->S |
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Remote SQL Information (identified by operation id):
----------------------------------------------------
   3 - SELECT /*+ OPAQUE_TRANSFORM */ "ID1","ID2","N1","N2","V1","V2" FROM "V1" "V1"
       (accessing 'ORCLPDB.LOCALDOMAIN@LOOPBACK' )

As you can see, the local optimizer doesn’t know enough about the remote view to be able to split it into components and make a mess of the execution plan, it simply sees a query against a “single table” and leaves the remote database to worry about optimising it. But, of course, we don’t always have the luxury of being able to create objects on someone else’s database, so what’s the alternative?

Try rewriting the query to use an inline view with the /*+ no_merge() */ hint:


prompt  =======================================
prompt  Insert from a no-merge inline view with
prompt  a sequence.nextval in the outer query
prompt  ========================================

set serveroutput off

insert into t3 (id1, id2, n0, n1, n2, v1, v2)
select
        id1, id2, s1.nextval, n1, n2, v1, v2
from    (
        select  /*+ no_merge */
                t1.id   id1,    
                t2.id   id2,
                0       n0,
                t1.n1,
                t2.n2,
                t1.v1,
                t2.v2
        from
                t1@&m_target    t1,
                t2@&m_target    t2
        where
                t2.id = t1.id
        )       v1
;

select * from table(dbms_xplan.display_cursor(format=>'-plan_hash'));
commit;


=======================================
Insert from a no-merge inline view with
a sequence.nextval in the outer query
========================================

10000 rows created.


SQL_ID  20z81g550tbsk, child number 0
-------------------------------------
insert into t3 (id1, id2, n0, n1, n2, v1, v2) select  id1, id2,
s1.nextval, n1, n2, v1, v2 from (  select /*+ no_merge */   t1.id id1,
 t2.id id2,   0 n0,   t1.n1,   t2.n2,   t1.v1,   t2.v2  from
t1@orclpdb@loopback t1,   t2@orclpdb@loopback t2  where   t2.id = t1.id
 ) v1

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation                | Name | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     | Inst   |IN-OUT|
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | INSERT STATEMENT         |      |       |       |    54 (100)|          |        |      |
|   1 |  LOAD TABLE CONVENTIONAL | T3   |       |       |            |          |        |      |
|   2 |   SEQUENCE               | S1   |       |       |            |          |        |      |
|   3 |    VIEW                  |      | 10000 |   937K|    54   (8)| 00:00:01 |        |      |
|   4 |     REMOTE               |      |       |       |            |          | ORCLP~ | R->S |
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Remote SQL Information (identified by operation id):
----------------------------------------------------
   4 - SELECT /*+ NO_MERGE */ "A2"."ID","A1"."ID",0,"A2"."N1","A1"."N2","A2"."V1","A1"."V
       2" FROM "T1" "A2","T2" "A1" WHERE "A1"."ID"="A2"."ID" (accessing
       'ORCLPDB.LOCALDOMAIN@LOOPBACK' )


The hint has done exactly what we needed: it has passed the text of the inline view to the remote database for optimisation so the join happens remotely, and the sequence number is then included after the result set comes back from the remote database. The SQL is a little messier, of course, mostly thanks to the doubled appearance of the columns in the select list.

Summary

Using a local sequence in DML that accesses a remote database makes the optimizer treats the underlying query as a distributed query, and this may mean it can’t find an efficient execution path unless you do some re-engineering of the code. If you can manage to make an insert with a constant efficient then using that version of the code as an in-line no_merge view with one extra layer that brings the sequence into play may be all you need to do to make the DML operate efficiently.

March 4, 2021

use_nl_with_index

Filed under: Execution plans,Index skip scan,Indexing,Nested Loop,Oracle — Jonathan Lewis @ 3:59 pm GMT Mar 4,2021

One of the less well-known hints is the hint /*+ use_nl_with_index() */  (link to 19c reference manual) which appeared in the 10g timeline. I may be wrong but I don’t think I saw a good description of this hint in the manuals until the 19c manual supplied the following:

The USE_NL_WITH_INDEX hint will cause the optimizer to join the specified table to another row source with a nested loops join using the specified table as the inner table but only under the following condition. If no index is specified, the optimizer must be able to use some index with at least one join predicate as the index key. If an index is specified, the optimizer must be able to use that index with at least one join predicate as the index key.

It looks like a fairly redundant hint, really, since it could easily (and with greater safely, perhaps) be replaced by the pair /*+ use_nl() index() */ with the necessary details of query block, object alias etc. on the hints. In fact I think I’ve only ever seen the hint “in the wild” once, and that was in an internal view definition where it had been used incorrectly (see this recent update to a note on one of the dynamic performance views that I wrote a few years ago).

The note I’ve just referenced prompted me to take a closer look at the hint to see how accurate the definition was. Here’s a data set I created for testing:

rem
rem     Script:         use_nl_with_index.sql
rem     Author:         Jonathan Lewis
rem     Dated:          Mar 2021
rem
rem     Last tested 
rem             19.3.0.0
rem             12.2.0.1
rem 

create table t1
as
with generator as (
        select 
                rownum id
        from dual 
        connect by 
                level <= 1e4    -- > comment to avoid WordPress format issue
)
select
        rownum                          id,
        mod(rownum,10)                  n10,
        mod(rownum,1000)                n1000,
        mod(rownum,2000)                n2000,
        lpad(mod(rownum,1000),10,'0')   v1000,
        lpad('x',100,'x')               padding
from
        generator       v1,
        generator       v2
where
        rownum <= 1e5   -- > comment to avoid WordPress format issue
;

create table t2 as
select distinct
        n10, n1000, v1000
from
        t1
;

create index t1_i1000 on t1(n1000);
create index t1_i10_1000 on t1(n10,n1000);
create index t1_i2000 on t1(n2000);
create bitmap index t1_b1 on t1(n1000, n10);

I’ve set up the data to do a join between t2 and t1, and I’m going to hint a query to force the join order t2 -> t1, and thanks to the data pattern the default path should be a hash join. Once I’ve established the default path I’m going to use the use_nl_with_index() hint to see how it behaves with respect to the various indexes I’ve created. So here’s the query with the default path:

set autotrace traceonly explain

select  
        /*+ leading(t2 t1) */
        t1.*
from    t2, t1
where
        t2.n10 = 1
and     t1.n1000 = t2.n1000
;

Execution Plan
----------------------------------------------------------
Plan hash value: 2959412835

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation          | Name | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     |
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT   |      | 10000 |  1318K|   259   (8)| 00:00:01 |
|*  1 |  HASH JOIN         |      | 10000 |  1318K|   259   (8)| 00:00:01 |
|*  2 |   TABLE ACCESS FULL| T2   |   100 |   700 |     2   (0)| 00:00:01 |
|   3 |   TABLE ACCESS FULL| T1   |   100K|    12M|   252   (6)| 00:00:01 |
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
---------------------------------------------------
   1 - access("T1"."N1000"="T2"."N1000")
   2 - filter("T2"."N10"=1)

Note
-----
   - this is an adaptive plan

So the join order is as required, and the default is a hash join. The join predicate is t1.n1000 = t2.n1000, and if you examine the indexes I’ve created you’ll see I’ve got

  • t1_i1000 on t1(n1000) – the perfect index
  • t1_i10_1000 on t1(n10, n1000) – which could be used for a skip scan
  • t1_i2000 on t1(n2000) – which doesn’t include the column in the join predicate
  • t1_b1 on t1(n1000, n10) – which is a bitmap index

So here are the first batch of tests – all rolled into a single statement with optional hints included:

select  
        /*+ 
                leading(t2 t1) 
                use_nl_with_index(t1) 
--              use_nl_with_index(t1 t1_i1000)
--              use_nl_with_index(t1(n1000))
        */
        t1.*
from    t2, t1
where
        t2.n10 = 1
and     t1.n1000 = t2.n1000
;


Execution Plan
----------------------------------------------------------
Plan hash value: 3315267048

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation                    | Name     | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     |
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT             |          | 10000 |  1318K| 10133   (1)| 00:00:01 |
|   1 |  NESTED LOOPS                |          | 10000 |  1318K| 10133   (1)| 00:00:01 |
|   2 |   NESTED LOOPS               |          | 10000 |  1318K| 10133   (1)| 00:00:01 |
|*  3 |    TABLE ACCESS FULL         | T2       |   100 |   700 |     2   (0)| 00:00:01 |
|*  4 |    INDEX RANGE SCAN          | T1_I1000 |   100 |       |     1   (0)| 00:00:01 |
|   5 |   TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID| T1       |   100 | 12800 |   101   (0)| 00:00:01 |
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
---------------------------------------------------
   3 - filter("T2"."N10"=1)
   4 - access("T1"."N1000"="T2"."N1000")

If I don’t specify an index the optimizer picks the best possible index; alternatively I can specify the index on (n1000) by name or by description and the optimizer will still use it. So what do I get if I reference the index on (n2000):

select  
        /*+ 
                leading(t2 t1) 
                use_nl_with_index(t1(n2000))
        */
        t1.*
from    t2, t1
where
        t2.n10 = 1
and     t1.n1000 = t2.n1000
;


Execution Plan
----------------------------------------------------------
Plan hash value: 2959412835

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation          | Name | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     |
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT   |      | 10000 |  1318K|   259   (8)| 00:00:01 |
|*  1 |  HASH JOIN         |      | 10000 |  1318K|   259   (8)| 00:00:01 |
|*  2 |   TABLE ACCESS FULL| T2   |   100 |   700 |     2   (0)| 00:00:01 |
|   3 |   TABLE ACCESS FULL| T1   |   100K|    12M|   252   (6)| 00:00:01 |
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
---------------------------------------------------
   1 - access("T1"."N1000"="T2"."N1000")
   2 - filter("T2"."N10"=1)

Hint Report (identified by operation id / Query Block Name / Object Alias):
Total hints for statement: 1 (U - Unused (1))
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
   3 -  SEL$1 / T1@SEL$1
         U -  use_nl_with_index(t1(n2000))

Note
-----
   - this is an adaptive plan


I’m back to the tablescan with hash join – and since I’m testing on 19.3.0.0 Oracle kindly tells me in the Hint Report that I have an unused hint: the one that can’t be used because the referenced index doesn’t have any columns that are join predicates.

So what about the skip scan option:

select  
        /*+ 
                leading(t2 t1) 
                use_nl_with_index(t1(n10, n1000))
--              use_nl_with_index(t1(n10))
--              index_ss(t1 (n10))
        */
        t1.*
from    t2, t1
where
        t2.n10 = 1
and     t1.n1000 = t2.n1000
;


Even though the index I’ve specified in the hint does contain a column in the join predicate the execution plan reports a full tablescan and hash join – unless I include an explicit index_ss() hint: but in that case I might as well have used the vanilla flavoured use_nl() hint. I did have a look at the 10053 (CBO) trace file for this example, and found that if I didn’t include the index_ss() hint the optimizer calculated the cost of using an index full scan (and no other option) for every single index on t1 before choosing the tablescan with hash join.

Finally, and without repeating the query, I’ll just note that when I referenced t1_b1 (n1000, n10) in the hint Oracle was happy to use the index in a nested loop join:

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation                     | Name  | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     |
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT              |       | 10000 |  1318K|  2182   (1)| 00:00:01 |
|   1 |  NESTED LOOPS                 |       | 10000 |  1318K|  2182   (1)| 00:00:01 |
|   2 |   NESTED LOOPS                |       | 10000 |  1318K|  2182   (1)| 00:00:01 |
|*  3 |    TABLE ACCESS FULL          | T2    |   100 |   700 |     2   (0)| 00:00:01 |
|   4 |    BITMAP CONVERSION TO ROWIDS|       |       |       |            |          |
|*  5 |     BITMAP INDEX RANGE SCAN   | T1_B1 |       |       |            |          |
|   6 |   TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID | T1    |   100 | 12800 |  2182   (1)| 00:00:01 |
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
---------------------------------------------------

   3 - filter("T2"."N10"=1)
   5 - access("T1"."N1000"="T2"."N1000")
       filter("T1"."N1000"="T2"."N1000")

Summary

The use_nl_with_index() hint generally works as described in the manuals – with the exception that it doesn’t consider an index skip scan as a valid option when trying to match the join predicate. That exception is one of those annoying little details that could waste a lot of your time.

Since it’s so easy to replace use_nl_with_index() with a pair of hints – including an index hint that could be an index_desc(), index_ss(), or index_combine() hint – I can’t come up with a good reason for using the use_nl_with_index() hint.

January 26, 2021

Index Hints

Filed under: CBO,dbms_xplan,Execution plans,Hints,Ignoring Hints,Indexing,Oracle — Jonathan Lewis @ 4:28 pm GMT Jan 26,2021

At the end of the previous post on index hints I mentioned that I had been prompted to complete a draft from a few years back because I’d been sent an email by Kaley Crum showing the optimizer ignoring an index_rs_asc() hint in a very simple query. Here, with some cosmetic changes, is the example he sent me.

rem
rem     Script: index_rs_kaley.sql
rem     Dated:  Dec 2020
rem     Author: Kaley Crum
rem
rem     Last tested
rem             19.3.0.0
rem

create table range_scan_me(
        one,
        letter 
)
compress
nologging
as
with rowgen_cte as (
        select  null
        from    dual
        connect by level <=  11315
)
select
        1 one,
        case 
                when rownum <=  64e5     then 'A'
                when rownum  =  64e5 + 1 then 'B'
                when rownum <= 128e5     then 'C' 
        end     letter
from 
        rowgen_cte a
cross join 
        rowgen_cte b 
where 
        rownum <= 128e5
;

create index one_letter_idx on range_scan_me(one, letter) nologging;

The table has 12.8 million rows. Of the two columns the first always holds the value 1, the second has one row holding the value ‘B’, and 6.4M rows each holding ‘A’ and ‘C’. On my laptop it took about 20 seconds to create the table and 26 seconds to create the index; using a total of roughly 376 MB (29,000 blocks for the index, 18,500 blocks for the (compressed) table).

Since this is running on 19.3 Oracle will have created basic statistics on the table and index as it created them. Significantly, though, the statistics created during data loading do not include histograms so the optimizer will not know that ‘B’ is a special case, all it knows is that there are three possible values for the letter column.

Time now to query the data:

set serveroutput off
alter session set statistics_level=all;

select 
        /*+ index_rs_asc(t1 (one, letter)) */ 
        letter, one
from 
        range_scan_me t1
where   one >= 1
and     letter = 'B'
/

select * from table(dbms_xplan.display_cursor(format=>'hint_report allstats last'));

I’ve told the optimizer to use an index range scan, using the “description” method to specify the index I want it to use. The hint is definitely valid, and the index can definitely be used in this way to get the correct result. But here’s the execution plan:

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation        | Name           | Starts | E-Rows | A-Rows |   A-Time   | Buffers | Reads  |
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT |                |      1 |        |      1 |00:00:00.01 |       8 |      4 |
|*  1 |  INDEX SKIP SCAN | ONE_LETTER_IDX |      1 |   4266K|      1 |00:00:00.01 |       8 |      4 |
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
---------------------------------------------------
   1 - access("ONE">=1 AND "LETTER"='B' AND "ONE" IS NOT NULL
       filter("LETTER"='B')

Hint Report (identified by operation id / Query Block Name / Object Alias):
Total hints for statement: 1 (U - Unused (1))
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
   1 -  SEL$1 / T1@SEL$1
         U -  index_rs_asc(t1 (one, letter))

The plan gives us two surprises: first it ignores (and reports that it is ignoring) a perfectly valid hint. Secondly it claims to be using an index skip scan even though the common understanding of a skip scan is that it will be used when “the first column of the index doesn’t appear in the where clause”.

We can infer that the plan is truthful because it has taken only 8 buffer visits to get the result – that’s probably a probe down to the (1,’B’) index entry, then another probe to see if the last index leaf block has any entries in it where column one is greater than 1.

But there are a couple of little oddities about this “ignoring the index” line. First, if we hadn’t hinted the query at all it would have done a tablescan, so the “index” bit of the hint is being obeyed even if the “rs” bit isn’t. Then there’s this:

select 
        /*+ index_rs_desc(t1 (one, letter)) */ 
        letter, one
from 
        range_scan_me t1
where   one >= 1
and     letter = 'B'
/

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation                  | Name           | Starts | E-Rows | A-Rows |   A-Time   | Buffers |
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT           |                |      1 |        |      1 |00:00:00.01 |       8 |
|*  1 |  INDEX SKIP SCAN DESCENDING| ONE_LETTER_IDX |      1 |   4266K|      1 |00:00:00.01 |       8 |
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
---------------------------------------------------
   1 - access("ONE">=1 AND "LETTER"='B' AND "ONE" IS NOT NULL)
       filter("LETTER"='B')

Hint Report (identified by operation id / Query Block Name / Object Alias):
Total hints for statement: 1 (U - Unused (1))
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
   1 -  SEL$1 / T1@SEL$1
         U -  index_rs_desc(t1 (one, letter))

If we change the index_rs_asc() to index_rs_desc(), the optimizer still ignores the “range scan” bit of the hint, but honours the “descending” bit – we get an index skip scan descending.

Of course this example is a very extreme case – nevertheless it is a valid example of the optimizer behaving in a way that doesn’t seem very user-friendly. If we add ‘outline’ to the format options for the call to dbms_xplan.display_cursor() we’ll find that the index_ss_asc() and index_ss_desc() hints have been substituted for our attempted index_rs_asc() and index_rs_desc().

So, if we really are confident that an index range scan would work a lot better than an index skip scan what could we do. We could try telling it to use an index (posibly even an index range scan ascending), but not to do an index skip scan. Let’s test that and include the Outline Information in the execution plan:

select 
        /*+ index(t1) no_index_ss(t1) */
        letter, one
from 
        range_scan_me t1
where   one >= 1
and     letter = 'B'
;


select * from table(dbms_xplan.display_cursor(format=>'hint_report allstats last outline'));


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation        | Name           | Starts | E-Rows | A-Rows |   A-Time   | Buffers |
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT |                |      1 |        |      1 |00:00:00.78 |   14290 |
|*  1 |  INDEX RANGE SCAN| ONE_LETTER_IDX |      1 |   4266K|      1 |00:00:00.78 |   14290 |
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Outline Data
-------------
  /*+
      BEGIN_OUTLINE_DATA
      IGNORE_OPTIM_EMBEDDED_HINTS
      OPTIMIZER_FEATURES_ENABLE('19.1.0')
      DB_VERSION('19.1.0')
      ALL_ROWS
      OUTLINE_LEAF(@"SEL$1")
      INDEX(@"SEL$1" "T1"@"SEL$1" ("RANGE_SCAN_ME"."ONE" "RANGE_SCAN_ME"."LETTER"))
      END_OUTLINE_DATA
  */

Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
---------------------------------------------------
   1 - access("ONE">=1 AND "LETTER"='B' AND "ONE" IS NOT NULL)
       filter("LETTER"='B')

Hint Report (identified by operation id / Query Block Name / Object Alias):
Total hints for statement: 2
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
   1 -  SEL$1 / T1@SEL$1
           -  index(t1)
           -  no_index_ss(t1)

It worked – we can see the index range scan, and we can see in the Buffers column of the plan why an index range scan was a bad idea – it’s taken 14,290 buffer visits to get the right result. If you check the index size I mentioned further up the page (, and think about how I defined the data, you’ll realise that Oracle has started an index range scan at the leaf block holding (1,B’) – which is half way along the index – and then walked every leaf block from there to the end of the index in an attempt to find any index entries with column one greater than 1.

The other thing to notice here is that the hint in the Outline Information is given as:

INDEX(@"SEL$1" "T1"@"SEL$1" ("RANGE_SCAN_ME"."ONE" "RANGE_SCAN_ME"."LETTER"))

This was the hint that appeared in the outline whether I used the index() hint or the index_rs_asc() hint in the query. Similarly, when I tried index_desc() or index_rs_desc() as the hint the outline reported index_desc() in both cases.

If I try adding just this hint to the query the plan goes back to a skip scan. It’s another case where the hints in the Outline Information (hence, possibly, an SQL Plan Baseline) don’t reproduce the plan that the outline claims to be describing.

Summary

Does Oracle ignore hints?

It looks as if the answer is still no, except it seems to think that a skip scan is just a special case of a range scan (and, from the previous article, a range scan is just a special case of a skip scan). So if you want to ensure that Oracle uses your preferred index strategy you may have to think about including various “no_index” hints to block the indexes you don’t want Oracle to use, and then no_index_ss() and no_index_ffs() to make sure it doesn’t use the wrong method for the index you do want to use. Even then you may find you don’t have quite enough options to block every index option that you’d like to block.

January 20, 2021

Hint Errors

Filed under: 19c,dbms_xplan,Execution plans,Hints,Ignoring Hints,Oracle — Jonathan Lewis @ 11:06 am GMT Jan 20,2021

This is a list of possible explanations of errors that you might see in the Hint Report section of an execution plan. It’s just a list of the strings extracted from a chunk of the 19.3 executable around the area where I found something I knew could be reported, so it may have some errors and omissions – but there are plenty of things there that might give you some idea why (in earlier versions of Oracle) you might have seen Oracle “ignoring” a hint:

internally generated hint is being cleared
hint conflicts with another in sibling query block
hint overridden by another in parent query block
conflicting optimizer mode hints
duplicate hint
all join methods are excluded by hints
index specified in the hint doesn't exist
index specified in hint cannot be parallelized
incorrect number of indexes for AND_EQUAL
partition view set up
FULL hint is same as INDEX_FFS for IOT
access path is not supported for IOT
hint on view cannot be pushed into view
hint is discarded during view merging
duplicate tables in multi-table hint
conditions failed for array vector read
same QB_NAME hints for different query blocks
rejected by IGNORE_OPTIM_EMBEDDED_HINTS
specified number must be positive integer
specified number must be positive number
specified number must be >= 0 and <= 1
hint is only valid for serial SQL
hint is only valid for slave SQL
hint is only valid for dyn. samp. query
hint is only valid for update join ix qry
opt_estimate() without value list
opt_estimate() with conflicting values spec
hint overridden by NO_QUERY_TRANSFORMATION
hinted query block name is too long
hinted bitmap tree wasn't fully resolved
bitmap tree specified was invalid
Result cache feature is not enabled
Hint is valid only for select queries
Hint is not valid for this query block
Hint cannot be honored
Pred reorder hint has semantic error
WITH_PLSQL used in a nested query
ORDER_SUBQ with less than two subqueries
conflicting OPT_PARAM hints
conflicting optimizer_feature_enable hints
because of _optimizer_ignore_parallel_hints
conflicting JSON_LENGTH hints

Update August 2021 – New items in 21.3

Hint id larger than number of union groups
ORDER_KEY_VECTOR_USE with less than two IDs
ORDER_SUBQ referenced query block name, which cannot be found
Same table referenced in both lists

CBO Example

Filed under: CBO,Execution plans,Oracle,Statistics — Jonathan Lewis @ 10:01 am GMT Jan 20,2021

A little case study based on an example just in on the Oracle-L list server. This was supplied with a complete, working, test case that was small enough to understand and explain very quickly.

The user created a table, and used calls to dbms_stats to fake some statistics into place. Here, with a little cosmetic editing, is the code they supplied.

set serveroutput off
set linesize 180
set pagesize 60
set trimspool on

drop table t1 purge;

create table t1 (id number(20), v varchar2(20 char));
create unique index pk_id on t1(id);
alter table t1 add (constraint pk_id primary key (id) using index pk_id enable validate);
exec dbms_stats.gather_table_stats(user, 't1');
 
declare
        srec               dbms_stats.statrec;
        numvals            dbms_stats.numarray;
        charvals           dbms_stats.chararray;
begin
  
        dbms_stats.set_table_stats(
                ownname => user, tabname => 't1', numrows => 45262481, numblks => 1938304, avgrlen => 206
        );

        numvals := dbms_stats.numarray (1, 45262481);
        srec.epc:=2;
        dbms_stats.prepare_column_values (srec, numvals);
        dbms_stats.set_column_stats (
                ownname => user, tabname => 't1', colname => 'id', 
                distcnt => 45262481, density => 1/45262481,
                nullcnt => 0, srec => srec, avgclen => 6
        );

        charvals := dbms_stats.chararray ('', '');
        srec.epc:=2;
        dbms_stats.prepare_column_values (srec, charvals);
        dbms_stats.set_column_stats(
                ownname => user, tabname => 't1', colname => 'v', 
                distcnt => 0,  density => 0, 
                nullcnt => 45262481, srec => srec, avgclen => 0
        );
        dbms_stats.set_index_stats( 
                ownname => user, indname =>'pk_id', numrows => 45607914, numlblks => 101513,
                numdist => 45607914, avglblk => 1, avgdblk => 1, clstfct => 33678879, indlevel => 2
        );
end;
/
 
variable n1 nvarchar2(32)
variable n2 number

begin
        :n1 := 'D';
        :n2 := 50;
end;
/
 

select 
        /*+ gather_plan_statistics */ 
        * 
from    ( 
        select  a.id col0,a.id col1
        from    t1 a
        where   a.v = :n1 
        and     a.id > 1
        order by 
                a.id 
        ) 
where 
        rownum <= :n2 
;
 
select * from table(dbms_xplan.display_cursor(null,null,'allstats last cost peeked_binds '));

From Oracle’s perspective the table has 45M rows, with a unique sequential key starting at 1 in the id column. The query looks like a pagination query, asking for 50 rows, ordered by id. But the in-line view asks for rows where id > 1 (which, initiall, means all of them) and applies a filter on the v column.

Of course we know that v is always null, so in theory the predicate a.v = :n1 is always going to return false (or null, but not true) – so the query will never return any data. However, if you read the code carefully you’ll notice that the bind variable v has been declared as an nvarchar2() not a varchar2().

Here’s the exection plan I got on an instance running 19.3 – and it’s very similar to the plan supplied by the OP:

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation                     | Name  | Starts | E-Rows | Cost (%CPU)| A-Rows |   A-Time   |
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT              |       |      1 |        |  3747 (100)|      0 |00:00:00.01 |
|*  1 |  COUNT STOPKEY                |       |      1 |        |            |      0 |00:00:00.01 |
|   2 |   VIEW                        |       |      1 |     50 |  3747   (1)|      0 |00:00:00.01 |
|*  3 |    TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID| T1    |      1 |    452K|  3747   (1)|      0 |00:00:00.01 |
|*  4 |     INDEX RANGE SCAN          | PK_ID |      0 |   5000 |    14   (0)|      0 |00:00:00.01 |
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Peeked Binds (identified by position):
--------------------------------------
   2 - :2 (NUMBER): 50

Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
---------------------------------------------------
   1 - filter(ROWNUM<=:N2)
   3 - filter(SYS_OP_C2C("A"."V")=:N1)
   4 - access("A"."ID">1)

The question we were asked was this: “Why does the optimizer estimate that it will return 5,000 entries from the index range scan at operation4?”

The answer is the result of combining two observations.

First: In the Predicate Information you can see that Oracle has applied a character-set conversion to the original predicate “a.v = :n1” to produce filter(SYS_OP_C2C(“A”.”V”)=:N1). The selectivity of “function of something = bind value” is one of those cases where Oracle uses one of its guesses, in this case 1%. Note that the E-rows estimate for operation 3 (table access) is 452K, which is 1% of the 45M rows in the table.

In real life if you had optimizer_dynamic_sampling set at level 3, or had added the hint /*+ dynamic_sampling(3) */ to the query, Oracle would sample some rows to avoid the need for guessing at this point.

Secondly: the optimizer has peeked the bind variable for the rownum predicate, so it is optimizing for 50 rows (basically doing the arithmetic of first_rows(50) optimisation). The optimizer “knows” that the filter predicate at the table will eliminate all but 1% of the rows acquired, and it “knows” that it has to do enough work to find 50 rows in total – so it can calculate that (statistically speaking) it has to walk through 5,000 (= 50 * 100) index entries to visit enough rows in the table to end up with 50 rows.

Next Steps (left as exercise)

Once you’ve got the answer to the question “Why is this number 5,000?”, you might go back and point out that the estimate for the table access was 95 times larger than the estimate for the number of rowids selected from the index and wonder how that could be possible. (Answer: that’s just one of the little defects in the code for first_rows(n).)

You might also wonder what would have happened in this model if the bind variable n1 had been declared as a varchar2() rather than an nvarchar2() – and that might have taken you on to ask yet another question about what the optimizer was playing at.

Once you’ve modelled something that is a little puzzle there’s always scope for pushing the model a little further and learning a little bit more before you file the model away for testing on the next version of Oracle.

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