A recent question on the Oracle-L list server described a problem with data coming in from SQL Server and an oddity with referential integrity failing on Oracle because (for example) a child row was in lower case while the parent was in upper.
This raised a few comments on how you might handle referential integrity while allowed case to differ. No doubt it’s been done before – by Tom Kyte if no-one else – but the first thought that crossed my mind was to use virtual columns:
Here’s a little note that came about after I tweeted an idle thought on Twitter yesterday
- 12c allows you to have multiple indexes on the same columns on a table, although only one of them is allowed to be visible at any one time – you can do the same with any recent versions of Oracle “almost”, and without the invisibility requirements. (Thanks to Jason Bucata for suggesting the critical detail on this one.)
- 12c allows you to have “partial” indexing on partitioned tables – you can do the same with earlier versions of Oracle “almost” but only if the indexes are local indexes or globally partitioned.
- 12c doesn’t officially allow you to create an index that is a bitmap in the past and a btree in the present (yet) – although you can almost do this in any recent versions of Oracle.
The clustering_factor is one of the most important numbers (if not the most important number) affecting the optimizer’s choice of execution plan – it’s the thing that has the most significant effect on the optimizer’s decision on whether to choose a table scan or an index, and on which index to choose.
One of the sad things about trying to keep on top of Oracle is that there are so many little things that could go wrong and take a long time to identify. In part this is why I try to accumulate test cases for all the oddities and anomalies I come across as I travel around the world – if I’ve spent the time recreating a problem I’ll probably remember it the next time I see the symptoms.
Just one of those little snippets about 12c that might help someone.
Further to an earlier post, online rebuild works in 12c even when the key is “too long”. The internal code has changed completely, and there is no sign of the problematic journal table that caused the problem in earlier versions.
In my last post I made a comment about how the optimizer will use the new format of the index hint to identify an index that is an exact match if it can, and any index that starts with the same columns (in the right order) if it can’t find an exact match. It’s fairly easy to demonstrate the behaviour in 11g by examining the 10053 (CBO) trace file generated by a simple, single table, query – in fact, this is probably a case that Doug Burns might want to cite as an example of how, sometimes, the 10053 is easy to interpret (in little patches):
I’ll probably have to file this one under “Optimizer ignoring hints” – except that it should also go under “bugs”, and that’s one of the get-out clauses I use in my “hints are not hints” argument.
Sometimes an invisible index isn’t completely invisible.
Cost Based Oracle – Fundamentals (November 2005)
But the most interesting function for our purposes is sys_op_countchg(). Judging from its name, this function is probably counting changes, and the first input parameter is the block ID portion (object_id, relative file number, and block number) of the table’s rowid, so the function is clearly matching our notional description of how the clustering_factor is calculated. But what is that 1 we see as the second parameter?
When I first understood how the clustering_factor was defined, I soon realized that its biggest flaw was that Oracle wasn’t remembering recent history as it walked the index; it only remembered the previous table block so that it could check whether the latest row was in the same table block as last time or in a new table block. So when I saw this function, my first guess (or hope) was that the second parameter was a method of telling Oracle to remember a list of previous block visits as it walked the index.
And finally, Oracle Corp. had implemented an official interface to the second parameter of sys_op_countchg() – provided you install the right patch – through a new table (or schema, or database) preference type available to the dbms_stats.set_table_prefs() procedure.
I don’t think this is likely to happen on a production system (until 12c) – but look what you can do if you try hard enough:
2 index_name, column_name from user_ind_columns
4 table_name = 'T1'
5 order by
6* index_name , column_position
4 rows selected.
That’s a straight cut-n-paste from an Oracle 22.214.171.124 SQL*Plus session. (You can tell I typed it in real time because I missed the return before the FROM, and couldn’t be bothered to go back and do it again ;) )
This is the text of an article I published in the UKOUG magazine a few years ago, but it caught my eye while I was browsing through my knowledge base recently, and it’s still relevant. I haven’t altered the original apart from adding a couple of very brief comments in brackets [Ed: like this].
Just a quick note to say that I found a blog over the weekend with a number of interesting posts, so I thought I’d pass it on: http://www.bobbydurrettdba.com/
There’s a really cute example (complete with test case) of an optimizer bug (possibly only in 11.1) in the December archive: http://www.bobbydurrettdba.com/2012/12/04/index-causes-poor-performance-in-query-that-doesnt-use-it/
Here’s a question that is NOT a trick question, it’s demonstrating an example of optimizer behaviour that might come as a surprise.
I have an index (addr_id0050, effective_date), the first column is numeric, the second is a date. Here’s a query with an execution plan that uses that index:
Here’s a funny little glitch – typical of the sort of oddity that creeps into the data dictionary from time to time – cut-n-pasted from 126.96.36.199:
A recent question on OTN asked how you could model a case where Oracle had the choice between a “perfect” index for a range scan and an index that could be used for an index skip scan and choose the latter path even though it was clearly (to the human eye) the less sensible choice. There have been a number of wierd and wonderful anomalies with the index skip scan and bad choice over the years, and this particular case is just one of many oddities I have seen in the past – so I didn’t think it would be hard to model one (in fact, I thought I already had at least two examples somewhere in my library – but I couldn’t find them).
Take a data set with two columns, call them id1 and id2, and create indexes on (id1), and (id2, id1). Generate the id1 column as a wide range of cyclic values, generate the id2 set with a small number of repetitive values so that a large number of physically adjacent rows hold the same value. The clustering_factor on the (id1) index will be very large, the clustering_factor on the (id2, id1) index will be relatively small because it will be controlled largely by the repetitive id2 value. Here’s the data set:
Another little detail that Hermann Baer mentioned in his presentation yesterday was the ability to create multiple indexes with the same column definition – something which currently gets you Oracle error “ORA-01408: such column list already indexed.”
No details, and there’s always the “safe harbour” slide of course – the one which says seomthing about the presentation being only an indication of current thinking and nothing is guaranteed to appear.
Having said that, this looks like an interesting option for those (possibly rare) occasions when you want to change a unique index into a non-unique index (for example, to change a unique constraint to deferrable). Rather than having to drop the index and create a new one – leaving the table unindexed while the index builds, you appear to have the option to: “create new index online”, “drop old index”. Moving a primary key constraint from one index to the other might not be so easy, of course, especially if there are foreign keys in place – but this certainly looks like a helpful step. [Update: actually it’s easy to move the constraint – as I subsequently found in this post.]
Details to follow when 12c becomes available.
Update Sept 2013
Although you can create multiple indexes with the same column definition, only one of them can be visible at any time – so this should remove the temptation that Richard describes in his comment below. It won’t stop people creating “duplicates”, though, and leaving some of them invisible for a while just in case they need to change their minds. Always keep firm control of your indexing.