Oracle Scratchpad

September 20, 2021

Optimizer Tip

Filed under: CBO,extended stats,Indexing,Oracle,Statistics — Jonathan Lewis @ 9:04 am BST Sep 20,2021

This is a note I drafted in March 2016, starting with a comment that it had been about the same time the previous year that I had written:

I’ve just responded to the call for items for the “IOUG Quick Tips” booklet for 2015 – so it’s probably about time to post the quick tip that I put into the 2014 issue. It’s probably nothing new to most readers of the blog, but sometimes an old thing presented in a new way offers fresh insights or better comprehension.

I keep finding ancient drafts like this and if they still seem relevant – even if they are a little behind the times – I’ve taken to dusting them down and publishing. (There are still more than 730 drafts on my blog at present – which gives me scope for one per day for the next 2 years!)

With the passing of time, though, new information becomes available, algorithms change and (occasionally) I discover I’ve made a significant error in a hypothesis (or guess). In this case there are a couple of important additions that I’ve added to the end of the original note.

Optimizer Tips (IOUG Quick Tips 2015)

There are two very common reasons why the optimizer picks a bad execution plan. The first is that its estimate of the required data volume is bad, the second is that it has a misleading impression of how scattered that data is.

The first issue is often due to problems with the selectivity of complex predicates, the second to unsuitable values for the clustering_factor of potentially useful indexes. Recent [ed: i.e. as at 2015] versions of the Oracle software have given us features that try to address both these issues and I’m going to comment on them in the following note.

As always any change can have side effects; introducing a new feature might have no effect on 99% of what we do, a beneficial effect on 99% of the remainder, and a hideous effect on the 1% of 1% that’s left, so I will be commenting on both the pros and cons of both features.

Column Group Stats

The optimizer assumes that the data in two different columns of a single table are independent – for example the registration number on your car (probably) has nothing to do with the account number of your bank account. So when we execute queries like:

     colX = 'abcd'
and  colY = 'wxyz'

the optimizer’s calculations will be something like:

“one row in 5,000 is likely to have colX = ‘abcd’ and one row in 2,000 is likely to have colY = ‘wxyz’, so the combination will probably appear in roughly one row in ten million”.

On the other hand we often find tables that do things like storing post codes (zipcodes) in one column and city names in another, and there’s a strong correlation between post codes and city – for example the district code (first part of the post code) “OX1” will be in the city of Oxford (Oxfordshire, UK). So if we query a table of addresses for rows where:

     district_code = 'OX1'
and  city          = 'Oxford'

there’s a degree of redundancy, but the optimizer will multiply the total number of distinct district codes in the UK by the total number of distinct city names in the UK as it tries to work out the number of addresses that match the combined predicate and will come up with a result that is far too small.

In cases like this we can define “column group” statistics about combinations of columns that we query together, using the function dbms_stats.create_extended_stats(). This function will create a type of virtual column for a table and report the system-generated name back to us, and we will be able to see that name in the view user_tab_cols, and the definition in the view user_stat_extensions. If we define a column group in this way we then need to gather stats on it, which we can do in one of two ways, either by using the generated name or by using the expression that created it.


SQL> create table addresses (district_code varchar2(8), city varchar2(40));

Table created.

SQL> execute dbms_output.put_line( -
>        dbms_stats.create_extended_stats( -
>            user,'addresses','(district_code, city)'))

SYS_STU12RZM_07240SN3V2667EQLW

PL/SQL procedure successfully completed.

begin
        dbms_stats.gather_table_stats(
                user, 'addresses',
                method_opt => 'for columns SYS_STU12RZM_07240SN3V2667EQLW size 1'
        );
        dbms_stats.gather_table_stats(
                user, 'addresses',
                method_opt => 'for columns (district_code, city) size 1'
        );
end;
/

I’ve included both options in the anonymous pl/sql block, but you only need one of them. In fact if you use the second one without calling create_extended_stats() first Oracle will create the column group implicitly, but you won’t know what it’s called until you query user_stat_extensions.

I’ve limited the stats collection to basic stats with the “size 1” option. You can collect a histogram on a column group but since the optimizer can only use a column group with equality predicates you should only create a histogram in the special cases where you know that you’re going to get a frequency histogram or “Top-N” histogram.

You can also define extended stats on expressions (e.g. trunc(delivery-date) – trunc(collection_date)) rather than column groups, but since you’re only allowed 20 column groups per table [but see update 1] it would be better to use virtual columns for expressions since you can have as many virtual columns as you like on a table provided the total column count stays below the limit of 1,000 columns per table.

Warnings

  • Column group statistics are only used for equality expressions. [see also update 2]
  • Column group statistics will not be used if you’ve created a histogram on any of the underlying columns unless there’s also a histogram on the column group itself.
  • Column group statistics will not be used if you query any of the underlying columns with an “out of range” value. This, perhaps, is the biggest instability threat with column groups. As time passes and new data appears you may find people querying the new data. If you haven’t kept the column stats up to date then plans can change dramatically as the optimizer switches from using column group stats to multiplying the selectivities of underlying columns.
  • The final warning arrives with 12c. If you have all the adaptive optimizer options enabled the optimizer will keep a look out for tables that it thinks could do with column group stats, and automatically creates them the next time you gather stats on the table. In principle this shouldn’t be a problem – the optimizer should only do this when it has seen that column group stats should improve performance – but you might want to monitor your system for the arrival of new automatic columns.

Preference: table_cached_blocks

Even when the cardinality estimates are correct we may find that we get an inefficient execution plan because the optimizer doesn’t want to use an index that we think would be a really good choice. A common reason for this failure is that the clustering_factor on the index is unrealistically large.

The clustering_factor of an index is a measure of how randomly you will jump around the table as you do an index range scan through the index and the algorithm Oracle uses to calculate this measure has a serious flaw in it: it can’t tell the difference between a little bit of localised jumping and constant random leaps across the entire width of the table.

To calculate the clustering_factor Oracle basically walks the entire index in order using the rowid at the end of each index entry to check which table block it would have to visit, and every time it has to visit a “new” table block it increments a counter. The trouble with this approach is that, by default, it doesn’t remember its recent history so, for example, it can’t tell the difference in quality between the following two sequences of table block visits:

Block 612, block 87, block 154, block  3, block 1386, block 834, block 237
Block  98, block 99, block  98, block 99, block   98, block  99, block  98

In both cases Oracle would say that it had visited seven different blocks and the data was badly scattered. This has always been a problem, but it became much more of a problem when Oracle introduced ASSM (automatic segment space management). The point of ASSM is to ensure that concurrent inserts from different sessions tend to use different table blocks, the aim being to reduce contention due to buffer busy waits. As we’ve just seen, though, the clustering_factor doesn’t differentiate between “a little bit of scatter” and “a totally random disaster area”.

Oracle finally addressed this problem by introducing a “table preference” which allows you to tell it to “remember history” when calculating the clustering_factor. So, for example, a call like this:

execute dbms_stats.set_table_prefs(user,'t1','table_cached_blocks',16)

would tell Oracle that the next time you collect statistics on any indexes on table t1 the code to calculate the clustering_factor should remember the last 16 table blocks it had “visited” and not increment the counter if the next block to visit was already in that list.

If you look at the two samples above, this means the counter for the first list of blocks would reach 7 while the counter for the second list would only reach 2. Suddenly the optimizer will be able to tell the difference between data that is “locally” scattered and data that really is randomly scattered. You and the optimizer may finally agree on what constitutes a good index.

It’s hard to say whether there’s a proper “default” value for this preference. If you’re using ASSM (and there can’t be many people left who aren’t) then the obvious choice for the parameter would be 16 since ASSM tends to format 16 consecutive blocks at a time when a segment needs to make more space available for users [but see Update 3]. However, if you know that the real level of insert concurrency on a table is higher than 16 then you might be better off setting the value to match the known level of concurrency.

Are there any special risks to setting this preference to a value like 16? I don’t think so; it’s going to result in plans changing, of course, but indexes which should have a large clustering_factor should still end up with a large clustering_factor after setting the preference and gathering statistics; the indexes that ought to have a low clustering_factor are the ones most likely to change, and change in the right direction.

Footnote: “Danger, Will Robinson”.

I’ve highlighted two features that are incredibly useful as tools to give the optimizer better information about your data and allow it to get better execution plans with less manual intervention. The usual warning applies, though: “if you want to get there, you don’t want to start from here”. When you manipulate the information the optimizer is using it will give you some new plans; better information will normally result in better plans but it is almost inevitable that some of your current queries are running efficiently “by accident” (possibly because of bugs) and the new code paths will result in some plans changing for the worse.

Clearly it is necessary to do some thorough testing but fortunately both features are incremental and any changes can be backed out very quickly and easily. We can change the table_cached_blocks one table at a time (or even, with a little manual intervention, one index at a time) and watch the effects; we can add column groups one at a time and watch for side effects. All it takes to back out of a change is a call to gather index stats, or a call to drop extended stats. It’s never nice to live through change – especially change that can have a dramatic impact – but if we find after going to production that we missed a problem with our testing we can reverse the changes very quickly.

Updates

Update 1 – 20 sets of extended stats. In fact the limit is the larger of 20 and ceiling(column count/10), and the way the arithmetic is applied is a little odd so there are ways to hack around the limit.

Update 2 – Column groups and equality. It’s worth a special menton that the predicate colX is null is not an equality predicate, and column group stats will not apply but there can be unexpected side effects even for cases where you don’t use this “is null” predicate. (More articles here about column groups.)

Update 3 – table_cached_blocks = 16. This suggestions doesn’t cater for systems running RAC.

October 21, 2020

Column Groups

Filed under: Column groups,extended stats,Oracle,Statistics — Jonathan Lewis @ 12:14 pm BST Oct 21,2020

Here’s an odd little detail about the statistics of column groups. At first glance it’s counter-intuitive but it’s actually an “obvious” (once you’ve thought about it for a bit) consequence of the approximate_ndv() algorithm for gathering stats.

I’ll present it as a question:

I have a table with two columns: flag and v1. Although the column are not declared as non-null neither holds any nulls. If there are 26 distinct values for flag, and 1,000,000 distinct values for v1, what’s the smallest number of distinct values I should see if I create the column group (flag, v1) ?

The question is, of course, a little ambiguous – there’s the number of distinct values that the column (group) holds and the number that a fresh gather of statistics reports it as holding. Here are the stats from a test run of a simple script that creates, populates and gathers stats on my table:

select  column_name, num_distinct 
from    user_tab_cols 
where   table_name = 'T1'
/

COLUMN_NAME                      NUM_DISTINCT
-------------------------------- ------------
FLAG                                       26
ID                                    1000000
V1                                     999040
SYS_STUQ#TO6BT1REX3P1BKO0ULVR9         989120

There are actually 1,000,000 distinct values for v1 (it’s a varchar2() representation of the id column), but the approximate_ndv() mechanism can have an error of (I believe) up to roughly 1.3%, so Oracle’s estimate here is a little bit off.

The column group (represented by the internal column defonition SYS_STUQ#TO6BT1REX3P1BKO0ULVR9) must hold (at least) 1,000,000 distinct values – but the error in this case is a little larger than the error in v1, with the effect that the number of combinations appears to be less than the number of distinct values for v1!

There’s not much difference in this case between actual and estimate, but there test demonstrates the potential for a significant difference between the estimate and the arithmetic that Oracle would do if the column group didn’t exist. Nominally the optimizer would assume there were 26 million distinct values (though in this case I had only created 1M rows in the table and the optimizer would sanity check that 26M).

So, although the difference between actual and estimate is small, we have to ask the question – are there any cases where the optimizer will ignore the column group stats because of a sanity check that “proves” the estimate is “wrong” – after all it must be wrong if the num_distinct is less than the num_distinct of one of the components. Then again maybe there’s a sanity check that only ignores the column group if the estimate is “wrong enough”, but allows for small variations.

I mention this only because an odd optimizer estimate has shown up recently on the Oracle-L mailing list, and the only significant difference I can see (at present) is that a bad plan appears for a partition where this column group anomaly shows up in the stats, but a good plan appears when the column group anomaly isn’t present.

Footnote:

If you want to recreate the results above, here’s the model I’ve used (tested on 19.3.0.0 and 11.2.0.4):

rem
rem     Script:         column_group_stats_5.sql
rem     Author:         Jonathan Lewis
rem     Dated:          Oct 2020
rem
rem     Last tested 
rem             19.3.0.0
rem             11.2.0.4
rem 

execute dbms_random.seed(0)

create table t1
as
with generator as (
        select 
                rownum id
        from dual 
        connect by 
                level <= 1e4    -- > comment to avoid WordPress format issue
)
select
        chr(65 + mod(rownum,26))        flag,
        rownum                          id,
        lpad(rownum,10,'0')             v1
from
        generator       v1,
        generator       v2
where
        rownum <= 1e6   -- > comment to avoid WordPress format issue
order by
        dbms_random.value
/


select  column_name, num_distinct 
from    user_tab_cols 
where   table_name = 'T1'
/

begin
        dbms_stats.gather_table_stats(
                ownname     => null,
                tabname     => 'T1',
                method_opt  => 'for all columns size 1 for columns(v1, flag) size 1'
        );
end;
/
 
select  column_name, num_distinct 
from    user_tab_cols 
where   table_name = 'T1'
/

Footnote 2:

As an interesting little statistical quirk, if I defined the column group as (flag, v1) rather than (v1, flag) the estimate for the column group num_distinct was 1,000,000.

July 9, 2020

Execution Plans

Filed under: Execution plans,extended stats,Histograms,Oracle,Performance,Problem Solving,Statistics,Troubleshooting — Jonathan Lewis @ 4:54 pm BST Jul 9,2020

This is an example from the Oracle Developer Community of using the output of SQL Monitor to detect a problem with object statistics that resulted in an extremely poor choice of execution plan.

A short time after posting the original statement of the problem the OP identified where he thought the problem was and the general principle of why he thought he had a problem – so I didn’t have to read the entire execution plan to work out a strategy that would be (at least) a step in the right direction of solving the performance problem.

This note, then, is just a summary of the five minute that I spent confirming the OP’s hypothesis and explaining how to work around the problem he had identified. It does, however, give a little lead-in to the comments I made to the OP in order to give a more rounded picture of what his execution plan wass telling us.

So here’s the top half of the plan (which is the first subquery of a “concatenation”) with the first few predicates:

===============================================================================================================================================================================================================================  
| Id |                 Operation                  |            Name            |  Rows   | Cost |   Time    | Start  | Execs |   Rows   | Read | Read  |  Cell   |  Mem  | Activity |             Activity Detail             |  
|    |                                            |                            | (Estim) |      | Active(s) | Active |       | (Actual) | Reqs | Bytes | Offload | (Max) |   (%)    |               (# samples)               |  
===============================================================================================================================================================================================================================  
|  0 | SELECT STATEMENT                           |                            |         |      |     12086 |     +5 |     1 |     864K |      |       |         |       |     0.01 | Cpu (1)                                 |  
|  1 |   CONCATENATION                            |                            |         |      |     12086 |     +5 |     1 |     864K |      |       |         |       |          |                                         |  
|  2 |    FILTER                                  |                            |         |      |     12191 |     +4 |     1 |     864K |      |       |         |       |     0.03 | Cpu (4)                                 |  
|  3 |     FILTER                                 |                            |         |      |     12191 |     +4 |     1 |      26M |      |       |         |       |     0.01 | Cpu (1)                                 |  
|  4 |      NESTED LOOPS                          |                            |     241 | 251K |     12191 |     +4 |     1 |      26M |      |       |         |       |     0.02 | Cpu (3)                                 |  
|  5 |       NESTED LOOPS                         |                            |     241 | 251K |     12191 |     +4 |     1 |      26M |      |       |         |       |     0.07 | Cpu (8)                                 |  
|  6 |        NESTED LOOPS                        |                            |     241 | 251K |     12232 |     +4 |     1 |      26M |      |       |         |       |     0.05 | Cpu (6)                                 |  
|  7 |         NESTED LOOPS                       |                            |    5407 | 233K |     12242 |     +4 |     1 |      86M |      |       |         |       |          |                                         |  
|  8 |          MERGE JOIN CARTESIAN              |                            |       1 |   35 |     12242 |     +4 |     1 |     1000 |      |       |         |       |          |                                         |  
|  9 |           TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID      | REF1                       |       1 |    3 |         1 |     +4 |     1 |        1 |      |       |         |       |          |                                         |  
| 10 |            INDEX RANGE SCAN                | REF1_PK                    |       1 |    2 |     12242 |     +4 |     1 |        1 |      |       |         |       |          |                                         |  
| 11 |           BUFFER SORT                      |                            |      84 |   32 |     12242 |     +4 |     1 |     1000 |      |       |         |  104K |          |                                         |  
| 12 |            TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID     | STAGE                      |      84 |   32 |         1 |     +4 |     1 |     1000 |      |       |         |       |          |                                         |  
| 13 |             INDEX RANGE SCAN               | STAGE_IDX1                 |      84 |    4 |         1 |     +4 |     1 |     1000 |      |       |         |       |          |                                         |  
| 14 |          PARTITION RANGE ITERATOR          |                            |    8292 | 232K |     12232 |     +4 |  1000 |      86M |      |       |         |       |          |                                         |  
| 15 |           TABLE ACCESS STORAGE FULL        | TAB1                       |    8292 | 232K |     12245 |     +1 |  1000 |      86M | 103M | 521GB |   1.96% |    7M |    51.81 | gc buffer busy acquire (1)              |  
|    |                                            |                            |         |      |           |        |       |          |      |       |         |       |          | latch: cache buffers chains (1)         |  
|    |                                            |                            |         |      |           |        |       |          |      |       |         |       |          | Cpu (1196)                              |  
|    |                                            |                            |         |      |           |        |       |          |      |       |         |       |          | gcs drm freeze in enter server mode (2) |  
|    |                                            |                            |         |      |           |        |       |          |      |       |         |       |          | reliable message (5)                    |  
|    |                                            |                            |         |      |           |        |       |          |      |       |         |       |          | cell single block physical read (2827)  |  
|    |                                            |                            |         |      |           |        |       |          |      |       |         |       |          | cell smart table scan (1977)            |  
|    |                                            |                            |         |      |           |        |       |          |      |       |         |       |          | read by other session (304)             |  
| 16 |         PARTITION RANGE ITERATOR           |                            |       1 |   12 |     12191 |     +4 |   86M |      26M |      |       |         |       |     0.42 | Cpu (51)                                |  
| 17 |          TABLE ACCESS BY LOCAL INDEX ROWID | TAB2                       |       1 |   12 |     12191 |     +4 |   86M |      26M |   4M |  28GB |         |       |    32.14 | gc cr grant 2-way (20)                  |  
|    |                                            |                            |         |      |           |        |       |          |      |       |         |       |          | gc cr request (2)                       |  
|    |                                            |                            |         |      |           |        |       |          |      |       |         |       |          | gc remaster (6)                         |  
|    |                                            |                            |         |      |           |        |       |          |      |       |         |       |          | Cpu (319)                               |  
|    |                                            |                            |         |      |           |        |       |          |      |       |         |       |          | gcs drm freeze in enter server mode (4) |  
|    |                                            |                            |         |      |           |        |       |          |      |       |         |       |          | latch: gc element (2)                   |  
|    |                                            |                            |         |      |           |        |       |          |      |       |         |       |          | cell single block physical read (3563)  |  
| 18 |           INDEX RANGE SCAN                 | TAB2_IX1                   |     166 |    3 |     12210 |     +2 |   86M |      26M |   1M |  11GB |         |       |    15.17 | Cpu (292)                               |  
|    |                                            |                            |         |      |           |        |       |          |      |       |         |       |          | cell single block physical read (1557)  |  
| 19 |        INDEX UNIQUE SCAN                   | MTD_PK                     |       1 |    1 |     12242 |     +4 |   26M |      26M |  292 |   2MB |         |       |     0.17 | Cpu (20)                                |  
|    |                                            |                            |         |      |           |        |       |          |      |       |         |       |          | cell single block physical read (1)     |  
| 20 |       TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID          | REF2                       |       1 |    2 |     12191 |     +4 |   26M |      26M |    7 | 57344 |         |       |     0.11 | Cpu (13)                                |  
| 21 |      TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID           | CONTROLTAB                 |       1 |    1 |         1 |     +4 |     1 |        1 |      |       |         |       |          |                                         |  
| 22 |       INDEX UNIQUE SCAN                    | CONTROLTAB_PK              |       1 |      |         1 |     +4 |     1 |        1 |      |       |         |       |          |                                         |  
| 23 |     MINUS                                  |                            |         |      |       102 |     +4 |    25 |        3 |      |       |         |       |          |                                         |  
| 24 |      TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID           | CUST_ORG_PK                |       1 |    3 |       942 |     +4 |    25 |       10 |      |       |         |       |          |                                         |  
| 25 |       INDEX UNIQUE SCAN                    | MC_PK                      |       1 |    2 |       942 |     +4 |    25 |       25 |      |       |         |       |          |                                         |  
| 26 |      SORT UNIQUE NOSORT                    |                            |       1 |    4 |         8 |     +4 |    25 |        9 |      |       |         |       |          |                                         |  
| 27 |       TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID          | REF1                       |       1 |    3 |         8 |     +4 |    25 |        9 |      |       |         |       |          |                                         |  
| 28 |        INDEX RANGE SCAN                    | REF1_PK                    |       1 |    2 |         8 |     +4 |    25 |        9 |      |       |         |       |          |                                         |  


Predicate Information (identified by operation id):  
---------------------------------------------------  
   2 - filter( EXISTS ( (SELECT /*+ INDEX_RS_ASC ("CUST_ORG_PK" "MC_PK") */ "CUST_ID" FROM "USER1"."CUST_ORG_PK"  "CUST_ORG_PK" 
               WHERE "CUST_ID"=:B1 AND "CUST_ORG_PK"."INDICATR"='Y') MINUS (SELECT /*+ INDEX_RS_ASC ("REF1" "REF1_PK") */ 
               TO_NUMBER("VAL") FROM "USER1"."REF1" "REF1" WHERE "PUSER"='ZZZ' AND "EDATE" .ge. TRUNC(SYSDATE@!) AND TO_NUMBER("VAL")=:B2  
               AND "SDATE" .le. TRUNC(SYSDATE@!))))  
   3 - filter( EXISTS (SELECT /*+ INDEX_RS_ASC ("CONTROLTAB" "CONTROLTAB_PK") */ 0 FROM  "USER2"."CONTROLTAB" "CONTROLTAB" WHERE
              "CONTROLTAB"."CNTRLID"=9999 AND  NVL("CONTROLTAB"."STATUS",'F')='S'))  
   9 - filter("REF1"."EDATE" .ge. TRUNC(SYSDATE@!))  
  10 - access("REF1"."PUSER"='XXX' AND  "REF1"."NAME"='CODE' AND "REF1"."SDATE" .le. TRUNC(SYSDATE@!))  
  13 - access("STAGE"."NAME"='XXX' AND "STAGE"."STAT"='I')  

Note: various inequality symbols changed to .le. / .ge. to avoid WordPress format issue.

The first thing to note is that the “Time (active)” shown at the top line is about 12,000 seconds – so it’s a long running query. Your next observation – before you look at the shape of the plan – might be to note that operations 15, 17 and 18 between them record thousands of seconds of time, mostly I/O time but including 1,200 seconds of CPU time. This might draw your eye to the part of the plan that tells you what you are doing at these operations and why you are doing it.

Looking at the detail – operation 15 is a full tablescan that is the child of a partition range iterator (operation 14), and that iterator is the second child of a nested loop join (operation 7). Why is the optimizer so out of balance that it thinks a table scan of (possibly) multiple partitions of a partitioned table is a good candidate for the second child of a nested loop?! The answer comes from the first child – the  Merge Join Cartesian at operation 8 has been given a cardinality estimate of just one row. When the cardinality estimate is one for the first table in a join then it doesn’t matter whether Oracle uses a nested loop join or a hash join, whatever happens next is only supposed to happen once.

Unfortunately when we compare “Rows (Estim)” and “Rows (Actual)” for the operation we see that the Merge Join Cartesian produced 1,000 rows – so the partition tablescan was going to happen 1,000 times (which we can confirm from the “Execs” column of operation 14). As a first step, then, we need to ensure that the optimizer gets a better estimate of the number of rows produced by the Cartesian join. So lets look at its child operations.

  • Operation 9 (Table Access of REF1) is predicted to return one row – with “Rows (actual)” = 1.
  • Operation 11 (Buffer Sort of data from STAGE1) is predicted to return 84 rows – with “Rows (actual)” = 1,000

Since the number of rows produced by a Cartesian join should be the product of the number of rows of the two inputs this tells us that the optimizer’s estimate of the number of rows from REF1 has been rounded up to 1 from a very small fraction (less than 1/84). If we can correct this then we may get Oracle to change the awful nested loop to an acceptable hash join. Wven if we can’t fix this mis-estimate we may be able to do something that improves the estimate for STAGE1 to something sufficienlty large that it will trigger the switch to a hash join. So let’s look at the predicates for these two tables.

REF1 predicates

   9 - filter("REF1"."EDATE">=TRUNC(SYSDATE@!))  
  10 - access("REF1"."PUSER"='XXX' AND  "REF1"."NAME"='CODE' AND "REF1"."SDATE"<=TRUNC(SYSDATE@!))  

The index range scan is based on an access predicate (with no filter predicate), so it looks like there’s a nearly perfect three-column index on REF1, but the optimizer can’t use the number of distinct keys in the index to get a good estimate of cardinality because one of the predicates is range-based. So the arithmetic will look at the three predicates separately and multiply up their selectivities. (It’s possible, of course, that this might be the first three columns of a 4, or more, column index.)

It’s a reasonable guess that the number of distinct combinations of (puser, name) will be much smaller than num_distinct(puser) * num_distinct(name) – so one strategy that might help increase the table’s cardinality estimate is to create extended statistics on the column group (puser, name).

Another reasonable guess is that the number of distinct values for the two columns is (relatively) small, with some skew to the distribution (name = ‘CODE’ looks particularly susceptible to being a commonly occurring value) – so perhaps we need a histogram on one or both of the columns (which would then require a histogram to be created on the column group as well if we wanted the optimizer to use the column group). We’d also have to make sure that the queried values didn’t fall outside the known low/high values for the columns if we wanted the column group to be used.

STAGE1 Predicates

13 - access("STAGE"."NAME"='XXX' AND "STAGE"."STAT"='I')

This is the access(-only) predicate for the index stage_idx1, and there are no filter predicates when we reach the table. So stage_idx1 might be a two-column index on the table that we are using completely, or it may be an index with more columns that we are using only incompletely. We can see that the cardinality estimate is out by a factor of 12 (84 predicted, 1,000 actual) so if this is the complete index (which would allow Oracle to use the distinct_keys value to estimate cardinality) there must be an uneven data distribution in the values; but if this is just the first two columns of a longer index then we might benefit from extended stats (viz: another column group) on this pair of columns.

Again, even if we create a column group, or take automatic advantage of the distinct_keys figure, the predicate STAT=’I’ (is that state, status?) looks a little dangerous – status columns tend to have a small number of distinct values with a signficant skew to the distribution of values – so we may want to create a histogram on the STAT column, which would then require us to create a histogram on the column group if we also wanted the column group stats to have an effect.

What Happened Next?

I made the suggestions about column groups and histogram to the OP – without the level of detail that I’ve given in the explanations above – and got the following response:

You are spot on.

There does exists frequency histogram on column NAME(having 14 distinct value) and STAT(having 7 distinct values) of table STAGE. Also there already exists a frequency histogram on column PUSER and height balanced histogram on column NAME of table REF1. But still they were not helping the existing query.

By creating a column group on both on ref1 (puser, name) and stage(name, stat) with histogram for both i.e. ‘FOR COLUMNS SIZE 254’. The merge Cartesian removed automatically from the path by optimizer and its doing a hash join now with TAB1 finishing the query in quick time.

Summary

When the cardinality (rows) estimate for an operation drops to one (which might mean much less than one and rounded up) then all hell can break loose and the choice of parent operation – and its cardinality estimate – might be insanely stupid, leading to a catastrophically poor execution plan.

Very low cardinality estimates are often the result of multiplying individual column selectivities to produce an estimated selectivity that is unrealistic (much too small) when compared with the actual number of distinct combinations that exist in the table. In such cases creating a column group, (possibly with a histogram) may be all you need to do to get a better cardinality estimate and a vastly improved execution plan.

 

October 30, 2019

Strange Estimates.

Filed under: CBO,extended stats,Oracle,Statistics — Jonathan Lewis @ 1:10 pm GMT Oct 30,2019

A question came up on the Oracle-L list server a couple of days ago expressing some surprise at the following execution plan:


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation                            | Name            | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     |
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT                     |                 |       |       |   845 (100)|          |
|   1 |  SORT AGGREGATE                      |                 |     1 |     7 |            |          |
|*  2 |   TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID BATCHED| ANY_TABLE       | 84827 |   579K|   845   (1)| 00:00:01 |
|   3 |    SORT CLUSTER BY ROWID             |                 | 68418 |       |    76   (0)| 00:00:01 |
|*  4 |     INDEX RANGE SCAN                 | ANY_INDEX       | 68418 |       |    76   (0)| 00:00:01 |
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
---------------------------------------------------
   2 - filter("X"."ANY_COLUMN1"='J')
   4 - access("X"."ANY_COLUMN2"=89155)

You’ll notice that this is a very simple query accessing a table by index, yet the estimated table rows found exceeds the estimated number of index entries used to probe the table. How can this happen. The answer (most frequently) is that there’s a mismatch between the table (or, more commonly, column) statistics and the index statistics. This seems to happen very frequently when you start mixing partitioned tables with global (or globally partitioned) indexes but it can happen in very simple cases, especially since a call to gather_table_stats() with cascade set to true and using the auto_sample_size will take a small sample from the index while using a 100% “sample” from the table.

Here’s an example I engineered very quickly to demonstrate the point. There’s no particular reason for the choice of DML I’ve used on the data beyond a rough idea of setting up a percentage of nulls and deleting a non-uniform pattern of rows.


rem
rem     Script:         table_index_mismatch.sql
rem     Author:         Jonathan Lewis
rem     Dated:          Nov 2019
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,1000)                n1,
        mod(rownum,1000)                n2,
        lpad('x',100,'x')               padding
from
        generator       v1,
        generator       v2
where
        rownum <= 1e6 -- > comment to avoid WordPress format issue
;

begin
        dbms_stats.gather_table_stats(
                ownname     => null,
                tabname     => 'T1',
                method_opt  => 'for all columns size 1, for columns (n1,n2) size 1'
        );
end;
/

create index t1_i1 on t1(n1);

delete from t1 where mod(trunc(sqrt(n1)),7) = 0;
update t1 set n1 = null where mod(n1,10) = 0;
delete from t1 where mod(n1,10) = trunc(dbms_random.value(0,10));

execute dbms_stats.gather_table_stats(user,'t1',estimate_percent=>1)
execute dbms_stats.gather_index_stats(null,'t1_i1',estimate_percent=> 0.01)

Of course you’re not supposed to collect stats with arbitrary samples in any recent version of Oracle, so going for a 1% and 0.01% sample seems a little daft but I’m just doing that to demonstrate the problem with a very small data set.

After generating the data and gathering the stats I ran a few queries to pick out some critical numbers.


select
        table_name, sample_size, num_rows
from
        user_tables
where
        table_name = 'T1'
/

select 
        index_name, sample_size, num_rows, distinct_keys
from
        user_indexes
where
        table_name = 'T1'
and     index_name = 'T1_I1'
/

select
        column_name, sample_size, num_nulls, num_distinct
from
        user_tab_cols
where
        table_name = 'T1'
and     (
            column_name = 'N1'
         or virtual_column = 'YES'
        )
order by
        column_name
/

You’ll notice that I’ve only picked one of my original columns and any virtual columns. My gather_table_stats() call had a method_opt that included the creation of extended stats for the column group (n1, n2) and I want to report the stats on the resulting virtual column.


TABLE_NAME           SAMPLE_SIZE   NUM_ROWS
-------------------- ----------- ----------
T1                          7865     786500


INDEX_NAME           SAMPLE_SIZE   NUM_ROWS DISTINCT_KEYS
-------------------- ----------- ---------- -------------
T1_I1                     385779     713292           714


COLUMN_NAME                      SAMPLE_SIZE  NUM_NULLS NUM_DISTINCT
-------------------------------- ----------- ---------- ------------
N1                                      7012      85300          771
SYS_STUBZH0IHA7K$KEBJVXO5LOHAS          7865          0          855

A couple of observations on the stats

  • the table sample size is, as expected, 1% of the reported num_rows (the actual count is 778,154).
  • The index sample size is much bigger than expected – but that’s probably related to the normal “select 1,100 leaf blocks strategy”. Because of the skew in the pattern of deleted values it’s possible for the sample size in this model to vary between 694,154 and something in the region of 380,000.
  • The n1 sample size is about 10% smaller than the table sample size – but that’s because I set 10% of the column to null.
  • The column group sample size matches the table sample size because column group hash values are never null, even if an underlying column is null.

So let’s check the execution plan for a very simple query:


set autotrace on explain
select id from t1 where n1 = 140 and n2 = 140;
set autotrace off


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation                           | Name  | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     |
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT                    |       |   920 | 11960 |   918   (1)| 00:00:01 |
|*  1 |  TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID BATCHED| T1    |   920 | 11960 |   918   (1)| 00:00:01 |
|*  2 |   INDEX RANGE SCAN                  | T1_I1 |   909 |       |     5   (0)| 00:00:01 |
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
---------------------------------------------------
   1 - filter("N2"=140)
   2 - access("N1"=140)

The estimate for relevant index rowids is smaller than the estimate for the number of table rows! The difference is not as extreme as the case reported on Oracle-l, but I’m only trying to demonstrate a principle, not reproduce the exact results.

There are several ways in which contradictory results like this can appear – but in this case we can see the following:

  • For the table access table.num_rows/column.num_distinct = 786,500 / 855 = 919.88  (using the column group num_distinct)
  • For the index range scan: (table.num_rows – column.num_nulls) / column.num_distinct = (786500 – 85300) / 771 = 909.47 (using the n1 statistics)

So the change in strategy as it becomes possible for the optimizer to take advantage of the column group means the index and table have been using incompatible sets of stats (in particular there’s that loss of information about NULLs) as their cardinalities are calculated. The question, then, is “how much is that likely to matter”, and the follow-up if it can matter is “in what circumstancs could the effect be large enough to cause problems”. But that’s a topic for another day.

Update / Footnote

In the case of the Oracle-l example, there was no column group, and in some cases the optimizer would produce a plan where the table estimate was much smaller than the index estimate, and in other cases (like the opening plan above) the table estimate was signficantly greater than the index estimate. This was a side effect of adaptive statistics: the low table estimate was due to the basic “multiply separate selectivities”; but the with adaptive statistics enabled Oracle started sampling the table to check the correlation between the two tables, and then produced an SQL Plan Directive to do so and got to the higher (and correct) result.

 

 

December 14, 2018

Extreme Nulls

Filed under: CBO,extended stats,Oracle,Statistics — Jonathan Lewis @ 7:01 pm GMT Dec 14,2018

This note is a variant of a note I wrote a couple of months ago about the impact of nulls on column groups. The effect showed up recently, though slightly obscured by other issues, on a client site so I thought it would be worth mentioning this indexing variant in its own right.  I’ll start with a script to generate some test data:

rem
rem     Script:         pt_hash_cbo_anomaly.sql
rem     Author:         Jonathan Lewis
rem     Dated:          Dec 2018
rem     Purpose:        
rem
rem     Last tested 
rem             18.3.0.0
rem             12.2.0.1
rem             12.1.0.2
rem

create table t1 (
        hash_col,
        rare_col,
        n1,
        padding
)
nologging
partition by hash (hash_col)
partitions 32
as
with generator as (
        select 
                rownum id
        from dual 
        connect by 
                level <= 1e4 -- > comment to avoid WordPress format issue
)
select
        mod(rownum,128),
        case when mod(rownum,1021) = 0 
                then rownum + trunc(dbms_random.value(-256, 256))
        end case,
        rownum,
        lpad('x',100,'x')               padding
from
        generator       v1,
        generator       v2
where
        rownum <= 1048576 -- > comment to avoid WordPress format issue
;

create index t1_i1 on t1(hash_col, rare_col) nologging
local compress 1
;

begin
        dbms_stats.gather_table_stats(
                ownname     => null,
                tabname     => 'T1',
                granularity => 'ALL',
                method_opt  => 'for all columns size 1'
        );
end;
/

I’ve got a hash-partitioned table with 32 partitions; the partitioning key is called hash_col, and there is another column called rare_col that is almost alway null – roughly 1 row in every 1,000 holds a value. I’ve added a local index on (hash_col, rare_col) compressing the leading column since hash_col is very repetitive, and gathered stats on the partitions and table. Here’s a view of the data for a single value of hash_col, and a summary report of the whole data set:

select  
        hash_col, rare_col, count(*)
from
        t1
where
        hash_col = 63
group by
        hash_col, rare_col
order by
        hash_col, rare_col
;

  HASH_COL   RARE_COL   COUNT(*)
---------- ---------- ----------
        63     109217          1
        63     240051          1
        63     370542          1
        63     501488          1
        63     631861          1
        63     762876          1
        63     893249          1
        63    1023869          1
        63                  8184

9 rows selected.

select
        count(*), ct
from    (
        select
                hash_col, rare_col, count(*) ct
        from
                t1
        group by
                hash_col, rare_col
        order by
                hash_col, rare_col
        )
group by ct
order by count(*)
;

  COUNT(*)         CT
---------- ----------
         3       8183
       125       8184
      1027          1

Given the way I’ve generated the data any one value for hash_col will have there are 8,184 (or 8,183) rows where the rare_col is null; but there are 1027 rows which have a value for both hash_col and rare_col with just one row for each combination.

Now we get to the problem. Whenever rare_col is non null the combination of hash_col and rare_col is unique (though this wasn’t quite the case at the client site) so when we query for a given hash_col and rare_col we would hope that the optimizer would be able to estimate a cardinality of one row; but this is what we see:


variable n1 number
variable n2 number

explain plan for
select /*+ index(t1) */
        n1
from
        t1
where
        hash_col = :n1
and     rare_col = :n2
;

select * from table(dbms_xplan.display);

========================================

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation                                  | Name  | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     | Pstart| Pstop |
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT                           |       |   908 | 10896 |    76   (0)| 00:00:01 |       |       |
|   1 |  PARTITION HASH SINGLE                     |       |   908 | 10896 |    76   (0)| 00:00:01 |   KEY |   KEY |
|   2 |   TABLE ACCESS BY LOCAL INDEX ROWID BATCHED| T1    |   908 | 10896 |    76   (0)| 00:00:01 |   KEY |   KEY |
|*  3 |    INDEX RANGE SCAN                        | T1_I1 |   908 |       |     2   (0)| 00:00:01 |   KEY |   KEY |
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
---------------------------------------------------
   3 - access("HASH_COL"=TO_NUMBER(:N1) AND "RARE_COL"=TO_NUMBER(:N2))

The optimizer has predicted a massive 908 rows. A quick check of the object stats shows us that this is “number of rows in table” / “number of distinct keys in index” (1,048,576 / 1,155, rounded up).

Any row with rare_col set to null cannot match the predicate “rare_col = :n2”, but because the optimizer is looking at the statistics of complete index entries (and there are 1048576 of them, with 1155 distinct combinations, and none that are completely null) it has lost sight of the frequency of nulls for rare_col on its own. (The same problem appears with column groups – which is what I commented on in my previous post on this topic).

I’ve often said in the past that you shouldn’t create histograms on data unless your code is going to use them. In this case I need to stop the optimizer from looking at the index.distinct_keys and one way to do that is to create a histogram on one of the columns that defines the index; and I’ve chosen to do this with a fairly arbitrary size of 10 buckets:


execute dbms_stats.gather_table_stats(user,'t1',method_opt=>'for columns rare_col size 10')

explain plan for
select /*+ index(t1) */
        n1
from
        t1
where
        hash_col = :n1
and     rare_col = :n2
;

select * from table(dbms_xplan.display);

========================================

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation                                  | Name  | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     | Pstart| Pstop |
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT                           |       |     1 |    12 |     2   (0)| 00:00:01 |       |       |
|   1 |  PARTITION HASH SINGLE                     |       |     1 |    12 |     2   (0)| 00:00:01 |   KEY |   KEY |
|   2 |   TABLE ACCESS BY LOCAL INDEX ROWID BATCHED| T1    |     1 |    12 |     2   (0)| 00:00:01 |   KEY |   KEY |
|*  3 |    INDEX RANGE SCAN                        | T1_I1 |     1 |       |     1   (0)| 00:00:01 |   KEY |   KEY |
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
---------------------------------------------------
   3 - access("HASH_COL"=TO_NUMBER(:N1) AND "RARE_COL"=TO_NUMBER(:N2))

Bonus observation

This problem came to my attention (and I’ve used a partitioned table in my demonstration) because I had noticed an obvious optimizer error in the client’s execution plan for exactly this simple a query. I can demonstrate the effect the client saw by running the test again without creating the histogram but declaring hash_col to be not null. Immediately after creating the index I’m going to add the line:


alter table t1 modify hash_col not null;

(The client’s system didn’t declare the column not null, but their equivalent of hash_col was part of the primary key of the table which meant it was implicitly declared not null). Here’s what my execution plan looked like with this constraint in place:


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation                                  | Name  | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     | Pstart| Pstop |
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT                           |       |   908 | 10896 |    76   (0)| 00:00:01 |       |       |
|   1 |  PARTITION HASH SINGLE                     |       |   908 | 10896 |    76   (0)| 00:00:01 |   KEY |   KEY |
|   2 |   TABLE ACCESS BY LOCAL INDEX ROWID BATCHED| T1    |   908 | 10896 |    76   (0)| 00:00:01 |   KEY |   KEY |
|*  3 |    INDEX RANGE SCAN                        | T1_I1 |    28 |       |     2   (0)| 00:00:01 |   KEY |   KEY |
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
---------------------------------------------------
   3 - access("HASH_COL"=TO_NUMBER(:N1) AND "RARE_COL"=TO_NUMBER(:N2))

Spot the difference.

The estimate of index rowids is far smaller than the estimate of the rows that will be fetched using those rowids. This is clearly an error.

If you’re wondering how Oracle got this number divide 908 by 32 (the number of partitions in the table) – the answer is 28.375.

Fortunately it’s (probably) an error that doesn’t matter despite looking worryingly wrong. Critically the division hasn’t changed the estimate of the number of table rows (we’ll ignore the fact that the estimate is wrong anyway thanks to a different error), and the cost of the index range scan and table access have not changed. The error is purely cosmetic in effect.

Interestingly if you modify the query to be index-only (i.e. you restrict the select list to columns in the index) this extra division disappears.

Summary

1) If you have a B-tree index where one (or more) of the columns is null for a large fraction of the entries then the optimizer may over-estimate the cardinality of a predicate of the form: “(list of all index columns) = (list of values)” as it will be using the index.distinct_keys in its calculations and ignore the effects of nulls in the individual columns. If you need to work around this issue then creating a histogram on one of the index columns will be sufficient to switch Oracle back to the strategy of multiplying the individual column selectivities.

2) There are cases of plans for accessing partitioned tables where Oracle starts by using table-level statistics to get a suitable set of estimates but then displays a plan with the estimate of rows for an index range scan scaled down by the number of partitions in the table. This results in a visible inconsistency between the index estimate and the table estimate, but it doesn’t affect the cardinality estimate for the table access or either of the associated costs – so it probably doesn’t have a destabilising effect on the plan.

September 12, 2018

Column Stats

Filed under: 12c,extended stats,Oracle,Statistics — Jonathan Lewis @ 1:46 pm BST Sep 12,2018

A little while ago I added a postscript about gathering stats on a virtual column to a note I’d written five years ago and then updated with a reference to a problem on the Oracle database forum that complained that stats collection had taken much longer after the addition of a function-based index. The problem related to the fact that the function-based index was supported by a virtual column that used an instr() function on a CLOB (XML) column – and gathering stats on the virtual column meant applying the function to every CLOB in the table.

So my post-script, added about a month ago, suggested adding a preference (dbms_stats.set_table_prefs) to avoid gathering stats on that column. There’s a problem with this suggestion – it doesn’t work

Oracle doesn’t play nicely when you try to limit the stats collection to a few columns – even in version 18.3. Here’s a demonstration of the effect. First we create a table that includes a column group (extended stats), a virtual column, and a function-based index – i.e. the three different ways of generating user-related virtual columns.


rem
rem     Script:         stats_struggle_06.sql
rem     Author:         Jonathan Lewis
rem     Dated:          Sep 2018
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,
        lpad(rownum,10,'0')             v1,
        lpad(rownum,10,'0')             v2
from
        generator       v1
where
        rownum <= 1e4 -- > comment to avoid WordPress format issue
;

execute dbms_stats.delete_table_stats(user,'t1')

begin
        dbms_output.put_line(
                dbms_stats.create_extended_stats(
                        ownname         => user,
                        tabname         => 'T1',
                        extension       => '(v1, v2)'
                )
        );
end;
/

alter table t1 add id_12 
        generated always as (mod(id,12)) virtual
;

create index t1_id on t1(mod(id,10));


Since I’ve run this on 12c and 18c I’ve included a call to delete table stats after creating the table. So the next step is to enable SQL trace and see what Oracle does under the covers when we try to gather stats on just a couple of columns in the table:


alter session set events '10046 trace name context forever';

begin
        dbms_stats.gather_table_stats(
                ownname     => user,
                tabname     => 't1',
                method_opt  => 'for columns size 1 id v1',
                cascade     => false
        );
end;
/

alter session set events '10046 trace name context off';

column column_name  format a32
column data_default format a32

select 
        column_name, data_default,
        num_nulls, num_distinct, to_char(last_analyzed,'hh24:mi:ss') gathered
from    user_tab_cols 
where   table_name = 'T1' 
order by 
        internal_column_id
;

COLUMN_NAME                      DATA_DEFAULT                      NUM_NULLS NUM_DISTINCT GATHERED
-------------------------------- -------------------------------- ---------- ------------ --------
ID                                                                         0        10000 16:13:12
V1                                                                         0        10000 16:13:12
V2
SYS_STUIBQVZ_50PU9_NIQ6_G6_2Y7   SYS_OP_COMBINED_HASH("V1","V2")
ID_12                            MOD("ID",12)
SYS_NC00006$                     MOD("ID",10)

According to the output of the last query we’ve gathered stats only on the two columns specified. But have we really avoided the work ? Here, with some cosmetic tidying, is the SQL executed by the package:

select 
        /*+
                full(t) no_parallel(t) no_parallel_index(t) dbms_stats
                cursor_sharing_exact use_weak_name_resl dynamic_sampling(0) no_monitoring
                xmlindex_sel_idx_tbl no_substrb_pad 
         */
        to_char(count(ID)),
        substrb(dump(min(ID),16,0,64),1,240),
        substrb(dump(max(ID),16,0,64),1,240),
        to_char(count(V1)),
        substrb(dump(min(V1),16,0,64),1,240),
        substrb(dump(max(V1),16,0,64),1,240),
        to_char(count(V2)),
        to_char(count(SYS_STUIBQVZ_50PU9_NIQ6_G6_2Y7)),
        to_char(count(ID_12)),
        to_char(count(SYS_NC00006$))
from
        TEST_USER.T1 t  /* NDV,NIL,NIL,NDV,NIL,NIL,ACL,ACL,ACL,ACL*/

We can see that Oracle has done a count(), min() and max() on id and v1, and the “comment” at the end of the text tells us that it’s applied the approximate_ndv mechanism to the first two columns queried but not the rest. So that’s collected the statistics we asked for.  However Oracle has also count()ed all the other columns – which means it’s evaluated their underlying expressions. So if you were hoping that limiting the columns gathered would avoid a really expensive function call, bad luck it won’t work. (The same is still true in 19c).

Threat / Bug alert

A further irritation showed up when I ran a test case that used a deterministic PL/SQL function to generate a virtual column: in 12.1.0.2 the function was called once per row (possibly because every row had a different value) whether or not it was in the list of columns for gathering stats; in 18.3 the function was called nearly twice per row when I didn’t specify stats gathering for the column and nearly 4 times per row when I did. This looks like it might be a change (possibly accidental) to how deterministic functions can cache their inputs and outputs across selected columns – possibly something as “minor” as the size of the cache. To be continued when time permits …

 

 

August 2, 2018

Extended Histograms – 2

Filed under: extended stats,Histograms,Oracle,Statistics — Jonathan Lewis @ 2:13 pm BST Aug 2,2018

Following on from the previous posting which raised the idea of faking a frequency histogram for a column group (extended stats), this is just a brief demonstration of how you can do this. It’s really only a minor variation of something I’ve published before but it shows how you can use a query to generate a set of values for the histogram and it pulls in a detail about how Oracle generates and stores column group values.

We’ll start with the same table as we had before – two columns which hold only the combinations (‘Y’, ‘N’) or (‘N’, ‘Y’) in a very skewed way, with a requirement to ensure that the optimizer provides an estimate of 1 if a user queries for (‘N’,’N’) … and I’m going to go the extra mile and create a histogram that does the same when the query is for the final possible combination of (‘Y’,’Y’).

Here’s the starting code that generates the data, and creates histograms on all the columns:


rem
rem     Script:         histogram_hack_2a.sql
rem     Author:         Jonathan Lewis
rem     Dated:          Jul 2018
rem
rem     Last tested 
rem             19.3.0.0 
rem             12.2.0.1
rem             12.1.0.2
rem             11.2.0.4
rem

create table t1
as
select 'Y' c2, 'N' c3 from all_objects where rownum <= 71482 -- > comment to deal with wordpress format issue.
union all
select 'N' c2, 'Y' c3 from all_objects where rownum <= 1994 -- > comment to deal with wordpress format issue.
;

variable v1 varchar2(128)

begin
        :v1 := dbms_stats.create_extended_stats(null,'t1','(c2,c3)');
        dbms_output.put_line(:v1);
end;
/

execute dbms_stats.gather_table_stats(null, 't1', method_opt=>'for all columns size 10');

In a variation from the previous version of the code I’ve used the “create_extended_stats()” function so that I can return the resulting virtual column name (also known as an “extension” name) into a variable that I can use later in an anonymous PL/SQL block.

Let’s now compare the values stored in the histogram for that column with the values generated by a function call that I first referenced a couple of years ago:


select
        endpoint_value
from 
        user_tab_histograms
where
        table_name = 'T1'
and     column_name = :v1
;

select 
        distinct c2, c3, 
        mod(sys_op_combined_hash(c2,c3),9999999999) endpoint_generated
from t1
;

ENDPOINT_VALUE
--------------
    4794513072
    6030031083

2 rows selected.


C C ENDPOINT_GENERATED
- - ------------------
N Y         4794513072
Y N         6030031083

2 rows selected.

So we have a method of generating the values that Oracle should store in the histogram. Now we need to generate 4 values and supply them to a call to dbms_stats.set_column_stats() in the right order with the frequencies we want to see:


declare
        l_distcnt number;
        l_density number;
        l_nullcnt number;
        l_avgclen number;

        l_srec  dbms_stats.statrec;
        n_array dbms_stats.numarray;

begin
        dbms_stats.get_column_stats (
                ownname =>null,
                tabname =>'t1',
                colname =>:v1,
                distcnt =>l_distcnt,
                density =>l_density,
                nullcnt =>l_nullcnt,
                avgclen =>l_avgclen,
                srec    =>l_srec
        );

        l_srec.novals := dbms_stats.numarray();
        l_srec.bkvals := dbms_stats.numarray();

        for r in (
                select
                        mod(sys_op_combined_hash(c2,c3),9999999999) hash_value, bucket_size
                from    (
                        select 'Y' c2, 'Y' c3, 1 bucket_size from dual
                        union all
                        select 'N' c2, 'N' c3, 1 from dual
                        union all
                        select 'Y' c2, 'N' c3, 71482 from dual
                        union all
                        select 'N' c2, 'Y' c3, 1994 from dual
                        )
                order by hash_value
        ) loop
                l_srec.novals.extend;
                l_srec.novals(l_srec.novals.count) := r.hash_value;

                l_srec.bkvals.extend;
                l_srec.bkvals(l_srec.bkvals.count) := r.bucket_size;
        end loop;

        n_array := l_srec.novals;

        l_distcnt  := 4;
        l_srec.epc := 4;

--
--      For 11g rpcnts must not be mentioned
--      For 12c is must be set to null or you
--      will (probably) raise error:
--              ORA-06533: Subscript beyond count
--

        l_srec.rpcnts := null;

        dbms_stats.prepare_column_values(l_srec, n_array);

        dbms_stats.set_column_stats(
                ownname =>null,
                tabname =>'t1',
                colname =>:v1,
                distcnt =>l_distcnt,
                density =>l_density,
                nullcnt =>l_nullcnt,
                avgclen =>l_avgclen,
                srec    =>l_srec
        );

end;

The outline of the code is simply: get_column_stats(), set up a couple of arrays and simple variables, prepare_column_values(), set_column_stats(). The special detail that I’ve included here is that I’ve used a union all query to generate an ordered list of hash values (with the desired frequencies), then grown the arrays one element at a time to copy them in place. (That’s not the only option at this point, and it’s probably not the most efficient option – but it’s good enough). I’ve used a similar of approach in the past running an analytic query against the table data to produce the equivalent of the 12c “Top-Frequency” histogram in much older versions of Oracle.

A couple of important points – I’ve set the “end point count” (l_srec.epc) to match the size of the arrays, and I’ve also changed the number of distinct values to match. For 12c to tell the code that this is a frequency histogram (and not a hybrid) I’ve had to null out the “repeat counts” array (l_srec.rpcnts). If you run this on 11g the reference to rpcnts is illegal so has to be commented out.

After running this procedure, here’s what I get in user_tab_histograms for the column:


select
        endpoint_value                          column_value,
        endpoint_number                         endpoint_number,
        endpoint_number - nvl(prev_endpoint,0)  frequency
from    (
        select
                endpoint_number,
                lag(endpoint_number,1) over(
                        order by endpoint_number
                )                               prev_endpoint,
                endpoint_value
        from
                user_tab_histograms
        where
                table_name  = 'T1'
        and     column_name = :v1
        )
order by endpoint_number
;

COLUMN_VALUE ENDPOINT_NUMBER  FREQUENCY
------------ --------------- ----------
   167789251               1          1
  4794513072            1995       1994
  6030031083           73477      71482
  8288761534           73478          1

4 rows selected.


It’s left as an exercise to the reader to check that the estimated cardinality for the predicate “c2 = ‘N’ and c3 = ‘N'” is 1 with this histogram in place.

July 31, 2018

Extended Histograms

Filed under: CBO,extended stats,Histograms,Oracle,Statistics — Jonathan Lewis @ 11:05 pm BST Jul 31,2018

Today’s little puzzle comes courtesy of the Oracle-L mailing list. A table has two columns (c2 and c3), which contain only the values ‘Y’ and ‘N’, with the following distribution:


select   c2, c3, count(*)
from     t1
group by c2, c3
;

C C   COUNT(*)
- - ----------
N Y       1994
Y N      71482

2 rows selected.

The puzzle is this – how do you get the optimizer to predict a cardinality of zero (or, using its best approximation, 1) if you execute a query where the predicate is:

where   c2 = 'N' and c3 = 'N'

Here are 4 tests you might try:

  • Create simple stats (no histograms) on c2 and c3.
  • Create frequency histograms on c2 and c3
  • Create a column group (extended stats) on (c2,c3) but no histograms
  • Create a column group (extended stats) on (c2,c3) with a histogram on (c2, c3)

If you do these tests you’ll find the estimated cardinalities are (from 12.1.0.2):

  • 18,369 – derived as 73,476 / 4  … total rows over total possible combinations
  • 1,940   – derived as 73,476 * (1,994/73,476) * (71,482/73,476) … total rows * fraction where c2 = ‘N’ * fraction where c3 = ‘N’
  • 36,738 – derived as 73,476 / 2 … total rows / number of distinct combinations of (c2, c3)
  • 997      – derived as 1,994 / 2 … half the frequency of the least frequently occurring value in the histogram

The last algorithm appeared in 10.2.0.4; prior to that a “value not in frequency histogram” would have been given an estimated cardinality of 1 (which is what the person on Oracle-L wanted to see).

In fact the optimizer’s behaviour can be reverted to the 10.2.0.3 mechanism by setting fix-control 5483301 to zero (or off), either with an “alter session” call or inside the /*+ opt_param() */ hint. There is, however, another option – if you get the column stats, then immediately set them (dbms_stats.get_column_stats(), dbms_stats.set_column_stats()) the optimizer defines the stats as “user defined” and (for reasons I don’t know – perhaps it’s an oversight) reverts to the 10.2.0.3 behaviour. Here’s some code to demonstrate the point; as the srcipt header says, I’ve tested it on versions up to 18.1


rem
rem     Script:         histogram_hack_2.sql
rem     Author:         Jonathan Lewis
rem     Dated:          Jul 2018
rem
rem     Last tested 
rem             18.1.0.0        via LiveSQL (with some edits)
rem             12.2.0.1
rem             12.1.0.2
rem

create table t1
as
select 'Y' c2, 'N' c3 from all_objects where rownum <= 71482 -- > comment to avoid format issue
union all
select 'N' c2, 'Y' c3 from all_objects where rownum <= 1994 -- > comment to avoid format issue
;

execute dbms_stats.gather_table_stats(user,'t1',method_opt=>'for all columns size 10 for columns (c2,c3) size 10');

column column_name format a128 new_value m_colname

select  column_name
from    user_tab_cols
where   table_name = 'T1'
and     column_name not in ('C2','C3')
;

set autotrace traceonly explain
select /* pre-hack */ * from t1 where c2 = 'N' and c3 = 'N';
set autotrace off

declare
        l_distcnt number default null;
        l_density number default null;
        l_nullcnt number default null;
        l_srec    dbms_stats.statrec;
        l_avgclen number default null;

begin

        dbms_stats.get_column_stats (
                ownname =>user,
                tabname =>'t1',
                colname =>'&m_colname',
                distcnt =>l_distcnt,
                density =>l_density,
                nullcnt =>l_nullcnt,
                srec    =>l_srec,
                avgclen =>l_avgclen
        );

        dbms_stats.set_column_stats(
                ownname =>user,
                tabname =>'t1',
                colname =>'&m_colname',
                distcnt =>l_distcnt,
                density =>l_density,
                nullcnt =>l_nullcnt,
                srec    =>l_srec,
                avgclen =>l_avgclen
        );

end;
/

set autotrace traceonly explain
select /* post-hack */  * from t1 where c2 = 'N' and c3 = 'N';
set autotrace off

I’ve created a simple table for the data and collected stats including histograms on the two columns and on the column group. I’ve taken a simple strategy to find the name of the column group (I could have used the function dbms_stats.create_extended_stats() to set an SQL variable to the name of the column group, of course), and then run a little bit of PL/SQL that literally does nothing more than copy the column group’s stats into memory then write them back to the data dictionary.

Here are the “before” and “after” execution plans that we get from autotrace:

BEFORE
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation         | Name | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     |
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT  |      |   997 |  3988 |    23  (27)| 00:00:01 |
|*  1 |  TABLE ACCESS FULL| T1   |   997 |  3988 |    23  (27)| 00:00:01 |
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
---------------------------------------------------
   1 - filter("C2"='N' AND "C3"='N')


AFTER
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation         | Name | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     |
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT  |      |     1 |     4 |    23  (27)| 00:00:01 |
|*  1 |  TABLE ACCESS FULL| T1   |     1 |     4 |    23  (27)| 00:00:01 |
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
---------------------------------------------------
   1 - filter("C2"='N' AND "C3"='N')

As required – the estimate for the (‘N’,’N’) rows drops down to (the optimizer’s best approximation to ) zero.

Footnote:

An alternative strategy (and, I’d say, a better strategic approach) would have been to create a “fake” frequency histogram that included the value (‘N’,’N’) giving it a frequency of 1 – a method I’ve suggested in the past  but with the little problem that you need to be able to work out the value to use in the array passed to dbms_stats.set_column_stats() to represent the value for the (‘N’,’N’) combination – and I’ve written about that topic in the past as well.

You might wonder why the optimizer is programmed to use “half the least popular” for predicates references values not in the index. Prior to 12c it’s easy to make an argument for the algorithm. Frequency histograms used to be sampled with a very small sample size, so if you were unlucky a “slightly less popular” value could be missed completely in the sample; if you were requesting a value that didn’t appear in the histogram then (presumably) you knew it should exist in the data, so guessing a cardinality somewhat less than the least popular must have seemed like a good idea.

In 12c, of course, you ought to be taking advantage of the “approximate NDV” implementation for using a 100% sample to generate frequency (and Top-N / Top-Frequency histograms). If you’ve got a 12c frequency histogram then the absence of a value in the histogram means the data really wasn’t there so a cardinality estimate of 1 makes more sense. (Of course, you might have allowed Oracle to gather the histogram at the wrong time – but that’s a different issue). If you’ve got a Top-N histogram then the optimizer will behave as if a “missing” value is one of those nominally allowed for in the “low frequency” bucket and use neither the 1 nor the “half the least popular”.

So, for 12c and columns with frequency histograms it seems perfectly reasonably to set the fix control to zero – after getting approval from Oracle support, of course.

 

December 7, 2016

Extended Stats

Filed under: extended stats,Indexing,Oracle,Statistics — Jonathan Lewis @ 3:54 pm GMT Dec 7,2016

After my Masterclass on indexes at the UKOUG Tech2016 conference this morning I got into a conversation about creating extended stats on a table. I had pointed out in the masterclass that each time you dropped an index you really ought to be prepared to create a set of extended stats (specifically a column group) on the list of columns that had defined the index just in case the optimizer had been using the distinct_keys statistic from the index to help it calculate cardinalities.

Unfortunately there is a limit on the number of column groups (or any other type of extended stats) you can have on a table and that limit is the larger of 20 and ceiling(number of columns / 10) – so you typically run into a problem if you want to take defensive action after dropping more than twenty (multi-column) indexes from a single table. (And you wonder how Oracle’s adaptive dynamic stats process that silently creates column groups overnight handles the problem of needing far more column groups than are allowed.)

The conversation led on to the oddity that the count includes the virtual columns representing the column groups so, for example, if you have 253 columns in your table you can create 26 column groups; but if you add 26 column groups that means you have a total of 279 columns, so you can actually create a total of 28 groups (an extra 2); but if you create those two column groups you now have a total of 281 columns in the table which means you’re allowed a total of 29 column groups so you can add one more column group for a total of 282 columns. Here’s some code (which I’ve run only on 11.2.0.4) to play with. To keep things very simple I’ve generated some trivial extended stats rather than column groups:


rem
rem     Script:         extended_stats_limit2.sql
rem     Author:         Jonathan Lewis
rem     Dated:          Dec 2016
rem

drop table t1 purge;

begin
        for i in 2..253 loop
                execute immediate
                'alter table t1 add (c' || to_char(i,'FM000') || ' number)';
        end loop;
end;
/

desc t1

prompt  ============================================================================================
prompt  This will raise an error on the 30th addition
prompt  ORA-20008: Number of extensions in table TEST_USER.T1 already reaches the upper limit (28.2)
prompt  ============================================================================================

declare
        ext_string varchar2(20);
begin
        for i in 1..30 loop
                ext_string := '(c001 + ' || i || ')';
                dbms_output.put_line(
                        dbms_stats.create_extended_stats(
                                ownname         => user,
                                tabname         => 'T1',
                                extension       => ext_string
                        )
                );
        end loop;
end;
/

column column_name format a32

select
        column_name, hidden_column, virtual_column, segment_column_id, internal_column_id
from
        user_tab_cols
where
        table_name = 'T1'
order by
        internal_column_id
;

This code results in a table with 253 segment columns (keeping below the critical 255), and 29 hidden, virtual columns (with names like SYS_STU0#$2X$X1M4NFZVM2O_5A3FC) representing the extended stats. What if I want more extended stats ? There is no limit on virtual columns in general, beyond the inherent table limit of 1,000 columns in total, so what if I create a few virtual columns (another 39, say, taking my total column count to 321): would this allow me to increase the number of extended stats to 33 – and if so, what would happen if I then dropped the virtual columns:


prompt  ============================================
prompt  Now we add some virtual columns after which
prompt  we will be able to add more extended stats
prompt  and drop the virtual columns
prompt  ============================================

begin
        for i in 1..39 loop
                execute immediate
                'alter table t1 add (virt' || to_char(i,'fm000') ||
                        ' generated always as ( c002 + ' || i || ') virtual)'
                ;
        end loop;
end;
/

select
        column_name, hidden_column, virtual_column, segment_column_id, internal_column_id
from
        user_tab_cols
where
        table_name = 'T1'
order by
        internal_column_id
;

prompt  ============================================================================================
prompt  We can now get up to 33 extended stats
prompt  This will raise an error on the attempt to add the 34th set
prompt  ORA-20008: Number of extensions in table TEST_USER.T1 already reaches the upper limit (32.5)
prompt  ============================================================================================

declare
        ext_string varchar2(20);
begin
        for i in 30..34 loop
                ext_string := '(c001 + ' || i || ')';
                dbms_output.put_line(
                        dbms_stats.create_extended_stats(
                                ownname         => user,
                                tabname         => 'T1',
                                extension       => ext_string
                        )
                );
        end loop;
end;
/

select
        column_name, hidden_column, virtual_column, segment_column_id, internal_column_id
from
        user_tab_cols
where
        table_name = 'T1'
order by
        internal_column_id
;


select
        column_name, internal_column_id
from
        user_tab_cols
where
        table_name = 'T1'
and     hidden_column = 'YES'
and     virtual_column = 'YES'
order by
        internal_column_id
;

prompt  ============================
prompt  Now drop the virtual columns
prompt  ============================

begin
        for r in (
                select column_name from user_tab_cols
                where  column_name like 'VIRT%'
        ) loop
                execute immediate
                'alter table t1 drop column ' || r.column_name;
        end loop;
end;
/

select
        column_name, internal_column_id
from
        user_tab_cols
where
        table_name = 'T1'
and     virtual_column = 'YES'
order by
        internal_column_id
;

When I ran this code I ended up with a table consisting of 286 columns, of which 253 were my original columns and 33 – with internal column ids of 254 to 286 inclusive – were the extended stats. It seems there is a way to bypass the limit if you really want to – though I’m not sure I’d really want to do it on a production system.

Left as Exercise for the Reader:

Create a table with 5 real columns and the 26 column groups needed to represent all (multi-column) combinations of those five columns. (Remember that the order of columns in a column group is not really significant). (The 26 groups consist of: 1 x 5 column, 5 x 4 column, 10 x 3 column, 10 x 2 column – this may remind some of you of binomial expansions, others may remember it as a row from Pascal’s triangle, you could also view it as a particular subset of the binary representations of the integers from 1 to 31.)

Update (May 2021)

A recent note on the MOS Community Forum (needs a login) highlighted a threat if you use this trick to get excess extended stats. If you export and re-import the table without stats, and then try to use the dbms_stats.export_xxx_stats() and dbms_stats.import_xxx_stats() procedures to add the stats – including the extended stats – to the table you’re probably going to see Oracle raise the exception: “ORA-20008: Number of extensions in table XXX already reaches the upper limit (NN)”

June 28, 2016

Index Sanity

Filed under: CBO,extended stats,Indexing,Oracle,Statistics — Jonathan Lewis @ 8:43 am BST Jun 28,2016

By popular demand (well, one person emailed me to ask for it) I’m going to publish the source code for a little demo I’ve been giving since the beginning of the millennium – it concerns indexes and the potential side effects that you can get when you drop an index that you’re “not using”. I think I’ve mentioned the effect several times in the history of this blog, but I can’t find an explicit piece of demo code, so here it is – starting at the conclusion – as a cut and paste from an SQL*Plus session running against an 11g instance:


SQL> set autotrace traceonly explain
select
        t1.small_vc, t2.small_vc, t3.small_vc
from
        t1, t2, t3
where
        t1.n1 between 40 and 50
and     t2.id1 = t1.id1
and     t2.ind_pad = t1.ind_pad
and     t2.id2 = t1.id2
and     t3.id = t1.id1
 11  ;

Execution Plan
----------------------------------------------------------
Plan hash value: 1184213596

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation           | Name | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     |
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT    |      |   484 | 64856 |   227   (2)| 00:00:02 |
|*  1 |  HASH JOIN          |      |   484 | 64856 |   227   (2)| 00:00:02 |
|*  2 |   HASH JOIN         |      |   484 | 57596 |    14   (0)| 00:00:01 |
|   3 |    TABLE ACCESS FULL| T2   |    20 |  1160 |     4   (0)| 00:00:01 |
|*  4 |    TABLE ACCESS FULL| T1   |   484 | 29524 |    10   (0)| 00:00:01 |
|   5 |   TABLE ACCESS FULL | T3   |  5000 | 75000 |   213   (2)| 00:00:02 |
----------------------------------------------------------------------------

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

   1 - access("T3"."ID"="T1"."ID1")
   2 - access("T2"."ID1"="T1"."ID1" AND "T2"."IND_PAD"="T1"."IND_PAD"
              AND "T2"."ID2"="T1"."ID2")
   4 - filter("T1"."N1"<=50 AND "T1"."N1">=40)

SQL> drop index t2_i1;

Index dropped.

select
        t1.small_vc, t2.small_vc, t3.small_vc
from
        t1, t2, t3
where
        t1.n1 between 40 and 50
and     t2.id1 = t1.id1
and     t2.ind_pad = t1.ind_pad
and     t2.id2 = t1.id2
and     t3.id = t1.id1
 11  ;

Execution Plan
----------------------------------------------------------
Plan hash value: 2290830436

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation                    | Name  | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     |
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT             |       |    52 |  6968 |    67   (2)| 00:00:01 |
|   1 |  NESTED LOOPS                |       |    52 |  6968 |    67   (2)| 00:00:01 |
|   2 |   NESTED LOOPS               |       |    52 |  6968 |    67   (2)| 00:00:01 |
|*  3 |    HASH JOIN                 |       |    52 |  6188 |    14   (0)| 00:00:01 |
|   4 |     TABLE ACCESS FULL        | T2    |    20 |  1160 |     4   (0)| 00:00:01 |
|*  5 |     TABLE ACCESS FULL        | T1    |   484 | 29524 |    10   (0)| 00:00:01 |
|*  6 |    INDEX UNIQUE SCAN         | T3_PK |     1 |       |     0   (0)| 00:00:01 |
|   7 |   TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID| T3    |     1 |    15 |     1   (0)| 00:00:01 |
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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

   3 - access("T2"."ID1"="T1"."ID1" AND "T2"."IND_PAD"="T1"."IND_PAD" AND
              "T2"."ID2"="T1"."ID2")
   5 - filter("T1"."N1"<=50 AND "T1"."N1">=40)
   6 - access("T3"."ID"="T1"."ID1")

Starting from the top – I’ve enabled autotrace which, technically, could mean that the plans are not the ones I’d see at run-time, but you can take my word for it that in 11g they are the run-time plans; then I’ve supplied a query that produces a plan with 3 full tablescans, two hash joins, and no index usage at all.

You’ll notice at operation 3 of the plan that table t2 is very small – only 20 rows selected, with no predicates that could have filtered that result down from a large table (take my word for it the stats have just been collected) so, as the ancient mythology would have it, we don’t really need an index on that table (a quick check tells me that the index wasn’t there to enforce uniqueness). Immediately after the first execution plan you can see that I’ve dropped an index called t2_i1 – trust me that IS the index on table t2.

We “run” the original query again, it gets re-optimised (and there’s no question of cardinality feedback or any other feature coming into play) and we get a different plan.

Dropping, or adding, a multi-column index to a table could change execution plans – even if the index is not present in the plan.

The reason for this is the “index sanity check”. When the optimizer is doing its cardinality estimates, if it see equality conditions on the set of columns that make up an index it can use the distinct_keys statistic from the index in the calculation rather than using the standard calculation of multiplying together the num_distinct of the separate columns. In earlier versions of Oracle there were some restrictions about uniqueness, but the limitations were removed in 11.1.0.7.

In my case there were 10 distinct values for id1, just one value for ind_pad, and 20 distinct values for id2 – but a total of only 20 distinct values for the combination. With an index in place on the combination the optimizer used the value 20 in its calculation, in the absence of the index it used the value 200 – that factor of 10 led to a drop in the join cardinality estimate from 484 rows to 52 rows – at which point the optimizer calculations made the next step in the plan change from a hash join to a nested loop join.

If you want to reproduce the demo, here’s the full script – the data isn’t a realistic data set, and I’ve had to use various non-standard settings to make the script as repeatable as possible – I’ve built the data set in a tablespace using an 8KB block size, 1MB uniform extents and manual (freelist) segment space management.


rem
rem     Script:         index_sanity.sql
rem     Author:         Jonathan Lewis
rem

drop table t3;
drop table t2;
drop table t1;

execute dbms_random.seed(0);

begin   
        begin           execute immediate 'purge recyclebin';
        exception       when others then null;
        end; 

        begin
                dbms_stats.set_system_stats('MBRC',16);
                dbms_stats.set_system_stats('MREADTIM',10);
                dbms_stats.set_system_stats('SREADTIM',5);
                dbms_stats.set_system_stats('CPUSPEED',1000);
        exception
                when others then null;
        end;

end;
/

create table t1
as
select
        mod(rownum,10)          id1,
        mod(rownum,20)          id2,
        rpad('x',40,'x')        ind_pad,
        mod(rownum,100)         n1,
        lpad(rownum,10,'0')     small_vc,
        rpad('x',50)            padding
from
        all_objects
where
        rownum  <= 4000
;

create table t2 
pctfree 99
pctused 1
as
select
        mod(rownum,10)          id1,
        mod(rownum,20)          id2,
        rpad('x',40,'x')        ind_pad,
        mod(rownum,100)         n1, 
        lpad(rownum,10,'0')     small_vc,
        rpad('x',200)           padding
from
        all_objects
where
        rownum <= 20
;

create table t3
pctfree 95
pctused 1
as
select
        rownum          id,
        rpad(rownum,10) small_vc,
        rpad('x',100)   padding
from
        all_objects
where
        rownum <= 5000
;
begin
        dbms_stats.gather_table_stats(
                ownname => user,
                tabname => 'T1',
                method_opt => 'for all columns size 1'
        );

        dbms_stats.gather_table_stats(
                ownname => user,
                tabname => 'T2',
                method_opt => 'for all columns size 1'
        );

        dbms_stats.gather_table_stats(
                ownname => user,
                tabname => 'T3',
                method_opt => 'for all columns size 1'
        );

end;
/

create        index t1_i1 on t1(id1, ind_pad, id2) pctfree 91;
create        index t2_i1 on t2(id1, ind_pad, id2) pctfree 91;
alter table t3 add constraint t3_pk primary key (id);

set autotrace traceonly explain

select
        t1.small_vc, t2.small_vc, t3.small_vc
from
        t1, t2, t3
where
        t1.n1 between 40 and 50
and     t2.id1 = t1.id1
and     t2.ind_pad = t1.ind_pad
and     t2.id2 = t1.id2
and     t3.id = t1.id1
;

-- alter index t1_i1 invisible;
-- alter index t2_i1 invisible;

drop index t1_i1;
-- drop index t2_i1;

accept X prompt "Press return to coninue"

select
        t1.small_vc, t2.small_vc, t3.small_vc
from
        t1, t2, t3
where
        t1.n1 between 40 and 50
and     t2.id1 = t1.id1
and     t2.ind_pad = t1.ind_pad
and     t2.id2 = t1.id2
and     t3.id = t1.id1
;

set autotrace off

You’ll notice from the commented lines in the above that the effect appears whether you drop the index or make it invisible, also that there’s a similar index on the t1 table that matches the index on the t2 table – I could get the effect from dropping or making invisible either index.

There is a saving grace in 11g – if I do drop, or make invisible, one of these indexes I can protect myself against the statistical effect by create a column group on the same set of columns, and the num_distinct from the column group would serve the same purpose as the distinct_keys from the index.

August 17, 2015

Index Usage

Filed under: extended stats,Indexing,Oracle,Tuning — Jonathan Lewis @ 4:25 pm BST Aug 17,2015

The question of how to identify indexes that could be dropped re-appeared (yet again) on the OTN database forum last week. It’s not really surprising that it recurs so regularly – the problem isn’t an easy one to solve but new (and even less new) users keep hoping that there’s a quick and easy solution.

There are, however, strategies and pointers that can help you to optimise the trade-off between effort, risk, and reward. Broadly the idea is to spend a small amount of effort finding a relatively small number of “expensive” indexes that might be safe to drop, so that when you do the detailed analysis you have a good chance that the time spent will be rewarded by a positive result.

Before we get to some results posted on OTN it’s worth thinking about the global impact and what we’re trying to achieve and the threats that go with our attempt to achieve it.

The key detail, of course, is that index maintenance is an expensive process. We could insert 1,000 rows into a table at a cost of writing about 25 table blocks plus a few undo blocks plus something like half a megabyte of redo (assuming, for the purposes of illustration, that each row is about 200 bytes on insert). Add one index to the table and we might have to locate and modify 1,000 separate index leaf blocks. The increment on the redo might be about quarter of a megabyte and we may have to access 1,000 different undo blocks for read consistency reasons, but the simple fact that we may need 1,000 buffers to be able to maintain that index is likely to be a significant extra cost on the insert. Make that 10 indexes, or 70 (as one unhappy DBA once told me) and the probability of being able to do high-speed inserts becomes rather low.

Of course we hope that our indexes will allow our queries to operate efficiently with great precision but inevitably we get to a point where the benefit of precision is outweighed by the cost of maintenance. Our target, then, is to design the set of indexes that makes it possible for the optimizer to find good paths for all the important queries and “good enough” paths for the rest. By the time the system is live, though, it’s too late for proper design, and the only option is for damage limitation, a bit of guesswork, and some live testing with fingers crossed (thank goodness for invisible indexes).

The starting point is usually an attempt to identify “the indexes we are not using”, which is typically translated into “the indexes that do not appear in execution plans” – but that’s not actually a good target, for various reasons:

  • Problem 1: If we are using an index it’s possible that we shouldn’t be and that there’s an alternative index available that ought to be more efficient. A corollary to this is that if you do identify and drop such an index you may find that the optimizer doesn’t use the alternative index you were expecting it to use until you take some action to help the optimizer recognise that the alternative is a good choice.
  • Problem 2: if we aren’t using a particular index then perhaps we should be using it and would use it if we dropped one of the other indexes on the table. (And there’s always the possibility that we didn’t happen to use it during the interval we were checking but do use it at some other times)
  • Problem 3: the optimizer is capable of using information about the number of distinct keys in a multi-column index to select an execution plan even though it may not use that index in the plan it finally chooses. We may be able to work around this problem in current versions of Oracle by creating a column group (extended statistics) that matches the definition of each index we drop – but there’s a limit of 20 column groups per table, and we may have to find the “opposite end” of each join where we use the index stats and create a matching column group there, and there are several cases where column group statistics are ignored.
  • Problem 4: There are some indexes we might not be using but which must exist to avoid the “foreign key locking” problem. It should be easy enough to check, before dropping an index, whether it has to exist to match a foreign key; and even then it may be possible to show that nothing in the application would cause the locking problem to appear – and as a safety measure you could disable locks on the (child) table to ensure that the application doesn’t grind to a halt because of foreign key locking problems (but see this note and test your version).

Provided you remember that problems like these exist, and think carefully about the indexes that your strategy suggests, there are various ways you could approach the problem of identifying indexes that don’t get into execution plans.

v$object_usage

The ink had barely dried on the manual pages for this view before several people (including me) had written notes explaining why this view wasn’t particularly helpful. (I think I even said something about this in Practical Oracle 8i). I won’t repeat the discussion here but it revolves around the fact that an index is flagged as “used” even if it has only been used once in a single execution of a single statement – so you don’t get any idea of the real importance of the index.

v$sql_plan et. al.

If you review the set of in-memory execution plans (and the AWR or Statspack equivalents) you can identify indexes which definitely have been used – but (a) it’s expensive to scan v$sql_plan frequently and (b) the AWR/Statspack repositories only capture a subset of the more expensive queries, so it’s easy to miss indexes which have been used and are relatively important but aren’t in the repository and don’t happen to be in memory at the moments you look. Ironically, if a really good index ensures that a particular important query runs very efficiently the query may never be captured in the AWR, so the index may appear to be redundant.

Review the definitions

If you examine the index definitions you may spot indexes where look very similar. If one index starts with the same columns, in the same order, as another index, there is a good chance that you could reduce two indexes to one – especially if the whole of one of the indexes is the “leading edge” of the other – for example:

  • (dp_datetime_date)
  • (dp_datetime_date, dp_compid)

Even if the leading edges match and the trailing edges differ we might be able to collapse two indexes into one – depending on how selective the leading columns are and how the indexes are used – for example:

  • (dp_compid, ddzt, cirmhcx, ct_nxr_mhcx, dp_datetime_date)
  • (dp_compid, ddzt, cirmhcx, ct_nxr_mhcx, pnr_cfrqsj_date)

which could perhaps be replaced by one of :

  • (dp_compid, ddzt, cirmhcx, ct_nxr_mhcx, dp_datetime_date, pnr_cfrqsj_date)

or

  • (dp_compid, ddzt, cirmhcx, ct_nxr_mhcx, pnr_cfrqsj_date, dp_datetime_date)

Guessing about the use of a typical date column, though, it’s possible that in this example the current trailing date columns are used with a range-based predicate, so it’s possible that this strategy won’t be effective for this pair of indexes.

Even if the order of later columns in the index doesn’t match you may still find that a pair of indexes could be reduced to a single index – for example the pair:

  • (dp_datetime_date, dp_compid)
  • (dp_datetime_date, ddzdt, dp_compid, ct_nxrdh, ct_smsmobilno)

which could perhaps be replaced by just:

  • (dp_datetime_date, dp_compid, ddzdt, ct_nxrdh, ct_smsmobilno)

As a safety measure, of course, you would probably create a new index, then make the subject indexes invisible, and wait for at least a week to see whether any performance problems appear (remembering that one automatic performance threat would be the increase in workload as yet another index – temporarily – has to be maintained).

The difficulty of eliminating indexes by examination is that it takes a lot of effort to investigate all the possibilities, so you really need some way of choosing a relatively small subset of indexes that might be worth the effort. This brings me to the principle topic of this posting – using segment statistics to help you pick which indexes might be worth the effort.

v$segstat / v$segment_statistics

Oracle records a number of workload statistics for each object in memory. The view v$segstat is an efficient version of these statistics, and v$segment_statistics is a friendlier version that joins v$segstat to tables user$, obj$ and ts$, with a filter against ind$ to turn meaningless numbers into names.

SQL> desc V$segstat
 Name                    Null?    Type
 ----------------------- -------- ----------------
 TS#                              NUMBER
 OBJ#                             NUMBER
 DATAOBJ#                         NUMBER
 STATISTIC_NAME                   VARCHAR2(64)
 STATISTIC#                       NUMBER
 VALUE                            NUMBER

SQL> desc V$segment_statistics
 Name                    Null?    Type
 ----------------------- -------- ----------------
 OWNER                            VARCHAR2(30)
 OBJECT_NAME                      VARCHAR2(30)
 SUBOBJECT_NAME                   VARCHAR2(30)
 TABLESPACE_NAME                  VARCHAR2(30)
 TS#                              NUMBER
 OBJ#                             NUMBER
 DATAOBJ#                         NUMBER
 OBJECT_TYPE                      VARCHAR2(18)
 STATISTIC_NAME                   VARCHAR2(64)
 STATISTIC#                       NUMBER
 VALUE                            NUMBER

For each segment Oracle records the following statistics (according to v$segstat_name – but there are a couple more hidden statistics reported in the underlying x$ksolsstat object):

NAME                             SAMPLED
-------------------------------- -------
logical reads                    YES
buffer busy waits                NO
gc buffer busy                   NO
db block changes                 YES
physical reads                   NO
physical writes                  NO
physical read requests           NO
physical write requests          NO
physical reads direct            NO
physical writes direct           NO
optimized physical reads         NO
optimized physical writes        NO
gc cr blocks received            NO
gc current blocks received       NO
ITL waits                        NO
row lock waits                   NO
space used                       NO
space allocated                  NO
segment scans                    NO

Both Statspack (at level 7) and the AWR report have several “Top N” sections for segment statistics. If we examine these stats for all the indexes on a given table we can get some clues about which indexes are likely to be worth further investigation to see if they could be dropped.

One very simple measure is the number of “physical reads” (which, for indexes, will generally be very similar to “physical read requests”). Since a (real) physical read is generally going to take a significant amount of time, segments with very large numbers of physical reads could be contributing a lot of of time to the total database time – so it’s worth knowing why it’s responsible for so many physical reads and worth cross-checking with v$sql_plan (and its historic equivalents) which statements seem to be using or modifying this index.

Even if it turns out that the index is absolutely necessary, you might still be able to spot opportunities to improve efficiency. If it is subject to a significant number of physical reads it may be that the index is just very large – could you make it smaller by rebuilding it with compression on some of the leading columns, is it an index which (for some reason you can identify) tends to degenerate over time and waste a lot of space and should you rebuild it occasionally. It might be possible (depending on the predicates used) to re-arrange the column order in such a way that the activity is focused onto a particular section of the index rather than being spread across the entire index – or you could even find that by careful choice of global partitioning (which can be used even for a non-partitioned table) you might be able to isolate the activity to a small section of the index.

A more interesting measure, though, comes from comparing the “logical reads” with the number of “db block changes”; and that’s the point of this posting – except that I’ve spent so much time on it already that I’m going to have to write part 2 some time next week.

Update (quite a long time later)

There are now 3 more posts following on from this one:

  • Index Usage 2 – Using constraints to eliminate indexes
  • Index Usage 3 – Using segment statistics to check for unused indexes
  • Index Usage 4 – Another example of using constraints to eliminate indexes

There’s also a recent posting with “index usage” in its title that’s about finding the break point where the percentage of data accessed makes Oracle switch between an index access path and a tablescan. (tl;dr -> there isn’t any specific percentage, it depends on too many variables).

 

May 4, 2014

Extended stats

Filed under: 12c,extended stats,Histograms,Oracle,Statistics — Jonathan Lewis @ 1:24 pm BST May 4,2014

Like the recent article on deleting histograms this is another draft that I rediscovered while searching for some notes I had written on a different topic – so I’ve finally finished it off and published it.

Here’s a quirky little detail of extended stats that came up in an OTN thread earlier on this week [ed: actually 8th Jan 2014]. When you create column group stats, Oracle uses an undocumented function sys_op_combined_hash() to create a hash value, and if you gather simple stats on the column (i.e. no histogram) you can get some idea of the range of values that Oracle generates through the hash function. For example:


create table t1 as
select  1 n1, 2 n2
from dual
connect by level <= 5000   -- > comment to avoid wordpress format issue
union all
select  2, 1
from dual
connect by level <= 5000   -- > comment to avoid wordpress format issue
; 

select dbms_stats.create_extended_stats(user,'t1','(n1, n2)') name from dual; 

begin 
	dbms_stats.gather_table_stats( 
		ownname		=> user,
		tabname		=>'T1',
		method_opt	=> 'for all columns size 1'
	);
end;
/

break on column_name skip 1

column column_name format a32
column endpoint_number heading "EP No."
column endpoint_value  heading "Value" format 999,999,999,999,999,999,999

select
	column_name, endpoint_number, endpoint_value
from
	user_tab_histograms
where
	table_name = 'T1'
order by
	column_name, endpoint_value
;

COLUMN_NAME                          EP No.                        Value
-------------------------------- ---------- ----------------------------
N1                                        0                            1
                                          1                            2

N2                                        0                            1
                                          1                            2

SYS_STUBZH0IHA7K$KEBJVXO5LOHAS            0      298,332,787,864,733,000
                                          1    8,095,781,421,167,520,000

I could have selected low_value and high_value from user_tab_cols, using utl_raw.cast_to_number() to display them in numeric format, but the view user_tab_histograms display the low and high as a two-bucket histogram if there is no actual histogram data for the column in the histogram (histgrm$) table.

We probably don’t need to worry about what the low and high values might be because taking hash values destroys any meaning that a range might have (the optimizer can’t use column group stats in range-based predicates, only in equality predicates). However, we might collect a frequency histogram (or Top-N histogram in 12c) on the column group because there might be some data skew in the sets of values that we need to tell the optimizer about – so let’s gather a histogram with 2 buckets on our sample data set and see what we get:


begin
	dbms_stats.gather_table_stats(
		ownname		 => user,
		tabname		 =>'T1',
		method_opt 	 => 'for all columns size 2'
	);
end;
/

select
	column_name, endpoint_number, endpoint_value
from
	user_tab_histograms
where
	table_name = 'T1'
order by
	column_name, endpoint_value
;

COLUMN_NAME                          EP No.                        Value
-------------------------------- ---------- ----------------------------
N1                                     5000                            1
                                      10000                            2

N2                                     5000                            1
                                      10000                            2

SYS_STUBZH0IHA7K$KEBJVXO5LOHAS         5000                1,977,102,303
                                      10000                7,894,566,276

The histogram values have changed! As one of the posters on the OTN thread points out, what Oracle has actually stored in this case is mod(sys_op_combined_hash() ,9999999999).

So far I haven’t done any exhaustive testing to work out whether the change in the strategy for storing numbers makes any difference to the typical optimizer arithmetic – but I do have at least one case (relating to “missing values” behaviour where the presence or absence of a column group histogram does make a difference to the estimated cardinality in a way that seems inconsistent with other patterns of behaviour: I doubt if it’s actually due to the change in what’s stored, and one day I may come across a client where I actually need to work out what’s going on and how best to work with the anomaly.

Bonus thought:

In 12c Oracle collects column stats automatically as it loads data into an empty table using a direct path load – but not if it’s got extended stats defined on it.  (This is bug number 18425876, labelled as fixed in 12.2 [ed: actually fixed in 12.1.0.2]). Here’s some code modelling a client scenario where we truncate and reload a table every day. In the first part of the demonstration I’ve loaded the table twice to show that after truncating and reloading I get new stats on the table – the first load is 10,000 rows, the second is 20,000 rows and the stats reflect this automatically. In the second part of the code, after adding a set of column group stats, truncating and loading 5,000 rows, the stats from the previous cycle are still in place. (The code is only relevant to 12c, of course)

create table t1 (n1 number, n2 number);

insert	/*+ append */
into	t1
select	object_id, data_object_id
from	all_objects
where
	rownum <= 10000
;
commit;

-- stats have appeared without a call to dbms_stats to gather them.

select blocks, num_rows from user_tables where table_name = 'T1';
select column_name, num_distinct, num_nulls, density, low_value, high_value from user_tab_cols where table_name = 'T1';

truncate table t1;

insert	/*+ append */
into	t1
select	object_id, data_object_id
from	all_objects
where
	rownum <= 20000
;
commit;

-- Stats now show the latest data 

select blocks, num_rows from user_tables where table_name = 'T1';
select column_name, num_distinct, num_nulls, density, low_value, high_value from user_tab_cols where table_name = 'T1';

-- Add a column group to the stats 

select dbms_stats.create_extended_stats(user,'t1','(n1, n2)') name from dual;

truncate table t1;

insert	/*+ append */
into	t1
select	object_id, data_object_id
from	all_objects
where
	rownum <= 5000
;
commit;

-- The stats have not been updated to reflect the new data, and the column group stats are empty

select blocks, num_rows from user_tables where table_name = 'T1';
select column_name, num_distinct, num_nulls, density, low_value, high_value from user_tab_cols where table_name = 'T1';

--------------------------------------------------------
-- Here are the three consecutive sets of results
--------------------------------------------------------

    BLOCKS   NUM_ROWS
---------- ----------
        16      10000

COLUMN_NAME                      NUM_DISTINCT  NUM_NULLS    DENSITY LOW_VALUE                  HIGH_VALUE
-------------------------------- ------------ ---------- ---------- -------------------------- --------------------------
N1                                      10000          0      .0001 C103                       C3020C60
N2                                       2534       7429 .000394633 C103                       C30B2929

    BLOCKS   NUM_ROWS
---------- ----------
        32      20000

COLUMN_NAME                      NUM_DISTINCT  NUM_NULLS    DENSITY LOW_VALUE                  HIGH_VALUE
-------------------------------- ------------ ---------- ---------- -------------------------- --------------------------
N1                                      20000          0     .00005 C103                       C30A4553
N2                                       3115      16848 .000321027 C103                       C30B2929

    BLOCKS   NUM_ROWS
---------- ----------
        32      20000

COLUMN_NAME                      NUM_DISTINCT  NUM_NULLS    DENSITY LOW_VALUE                  HIGH_VALUE
-------------------------------- ------------ ---------- ---------- -------------------------- --------------------------
N1                                      20000          0     .00005 C103                       C30A4553
N2                                       3115      16848 .000321027 C103                       C30B2929
SYS_STUBZH0IHA7K$KEBJVXO5LOHAS

The workaround given in the bug is “add the extended stats after loading the table” – but if you’re constantly truncating and reloading that means you have to drop and add the extended stats and do a tablescan to gather the column group stats every time you reload.

Note: the limitation applies whether you create a column group, “ordinary” extended stats, a virtual column, or an implicit virtual column underlying a function-based index.

Just as a little aside – when I first wrote the demo script I forgot to put in the commit; after the insert/append – which meant I was trying to create column group stats on a table which should have given me Oracle error: “ORA-12838: cannot read/modify an object after modifying it in parallel”; instead this has been trapped by the dbms_stats package and shows up as a slightly confusing:


select dbms_stats.create_extended_stats(user,'t1','(n1, n2)') name from dual
       *
ERROR at line 1:
ORA-20001: Error when processing extension -  resource busy and acquire with NOWAIT specified or timeout expired
ORA-06512: at "SYS.DBMS_STATS", line 12977
ORA-06512: at "SYS.DBMS_STATS", line 44967
ORA-06512: at "SYS.DBMS_STATS", line 44986

September 25, 2013

Extended Stats

Filed under: CBO,extended stats,Oracle,Statistics — Jonathan Lewis @ 5:06 pm BST Sep 25,2013

Here’s a little demo cut-n-pasted from a session running Oracle 12.1.0.1 (it works on 11g, too). All it does is create a table by copying from a well-known table, gather extended stats on a column group, then show you the resulting column names by querying view user_tab_cols.

(more…)

April 11, 2012

Extended Stats

Filed under: CBO,extended stats,Oracle,Statistics — Jonathan Lewis @ 11:37 pm BST Apr 11,2012

I’m very keen on the 11g extended stats feature, but I’ve just discovered the first of a list of critical weaknesses in the implementation details that could lead to some surprising instability in execution plans [See end of article for links to further problems]. It’s a combination of “column group” statistics and “out of range” predicates. Let’s start with  some sample data. (Note: Initially tested on 11.2.0.4 and 12.1.0.1 – still accurate on 12.2.0.1 and 19.3.0.0):
(more…)

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