Oracle Scratchpad

May 19, 2010

Ignoring Hints

Filed under: distributed,Hints,Ignoring Hints,Troubleshooting,Tuning — Jonathan Lewis @ 9:04 pm BST May 19,2010

I’ve previously published a couple of notes (hereand here) about the use of the driving_site() hint with distributed queries. The first note pointed out that the hint was deliberately ignored if you write a local CTAS or INSERT that did a distributed query. I’ve just found another case where the hint is ignored – this time in a simple SELECT statement.

Try running an ordinary distributed query from the SYS account, and then try using the driving_site() hint to make it run at the remote site. When I tried this a few days ago I ended up wasting half an hour translating some SQL from ANSI to Oracle dialect because I thought that the ANSI was making Oracle transform the query in a way that lost the hint – then I discovered that both versions of the code worked correctly if I logged in as a different user.

I was running my queries between two databases using – I won’t guarantee you get the same results on other versions, but it looks like SYS doesn’t honour the driving_site() hint. I can’t think of a robust argument why this should be the case, but if I were forced to do some vague hand-waving I’d probably mumble something about potential security loopholes.

Footnote: I should, of course, have mentioned that there are all sorts of things that behave in unexpected ways if you are logged on as SYS, and that you shouldn’t be logged on as SYS – especially in a production system.

[Further reading on “ignoring hints”]

May 18, 2010

double trouble

Filed under: Execution plans,Performance,Tuning — Jonathan Lewis @ 7:06 pm BST May 18,2010

In the latest Quiz Night, I asked how you could make a query more efficient by changing a two table join into a three table join – with the clue that my third table was a repeat of the first table. Gary Myers, in comment 4,  provided the type of answer I was looking for. Sometimes it is more efficient to get a small amount of data from a table on a first pass then go back and get the rest of the data on a second pass – especially if the first pass is an ‘index only’ operation.

May 3, 2010

Cursor Sharing 3

Filed under: Hints,Indexing,Tuning — Jonathan Lewis @ 8:57 pm BST May 3,2010

Here’s a simple piece of code demonstrating an irritating problem. I’ve created a table, a function-based index, collected stats (without histograms), and then run a query that should use that index – but doesn’t.

April 26, 2010

DW Introduction

Filed under: Infrastructure,Oracle,Performance,Tuning — Jonathan Lewis @ 4:28 pm BST Apr 26,2010

Greg Rahn has been writing a short series on “Core Performance Fundamentals of Oracle Data Warehousing”. Here’s his catalogue of the first four or five articles in the series.

March 31, 2010

Analyze this

Filed under: Statistics,Troubleshooting,Tuning — Jonathan Lewis @ 7:50 pm BST Mar 31,2010

Here’s a little script I wrote a few years ago to make a point about using the dbms_stats package. I’ve just re-run it on to see if it still behaves the way it used to – and it does. If you want to be just a little bit baffled, set up a database with an 8KB blocks size, a tablespace that is locally managed, uniform extent size of 1MB, using freelist management, then run the script:


January 10, 2010

first_rows_N again

Filed under: CBO,Performance,Tuning — Jonathan Lewis @ 7:02 pm BST Jan 10,2010

If you run a query using first_rows_N optimisation you could run into a massive performance problem in cases where the optimizer thinks the complete result set is quite large when it is actually very small.

If both conditions are true the optimizer may choose a very resource-intensive execution path “expecting” to stop (or at least pause between fetches) after N rows – hoping to give the impression that it can respond very quickly – but find that the query has to run to completion because the N rows simply don’t exist.


December 28, 2009

Short Sorts

Filed under: Infrastructure,Performance,sorting,trace files,Tuning — Jonathan Lewis @ 7:29 pm BST Dec 28,2009

I posted a little holiday quiz – timed to appear just before midnight (GMT) on 24th December – that asked about the number of rows sorted and the memory used for queries like:

select sortcode
  select sortcode
  from t1
        order by
  rownum <= 10

The number and variety of the responses was gratifying. It’s always interesting to see how many important little details appear as people start to tackle even fairly straight-forward questions like this.


December 23, 2009

Btree / Bitmap

Filed under: Indexing,Infrastructure,Oracle,Tuning — Jonathan Lewis @ 8:21 pm BST Dec 23,2009

In a recent ‘philosophy’ post I focused on the critical mental image that should be adopted when comparing B-tree and bitmap indexes. I was a little surprised, however, to discover that the idea I proposed needed further explanation. So here’s a note that expands on the original comment.


June 25, 2009

Explain VIEW

Filed under: Execution plans,Tuning — Jonathan Lewis @ 7:32 pm BST Jun 25,2009

A brief note on reading execution plans.

| Id  | Operation                     | Name    | Time     |
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT              |         | 00:00:17 |
|*  1 |  HASH JOIN                    |         | 00:00:17 |
|   2 |   VIEW                        | VW_SQ_1 | 00:00:01 |
|   3 |    HASH GROUP BY              |         | 00:00:01 |
|   4 |     TABLE ACCESS FULL         | EMP     | 00:00:01 |
|   5 |   VIEW                        |         | 00:00:17 |
|   6 |    TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID| EMP     | 00:00:17 |
|   7 |     INDEX FULL SCAN           | E_D     | 00:00:01 |

Predicate Information (identified by operation id):

   1 - access("DEPT_NO"="OUTER"."DEPT_NO")


June 2, 2009

Fixed Stats

Filed under: Execution plans,Performance,Statistics,Troubleshooting,Tuning — Jonathan Lewis @ 7:19 pm BST Jun 2,2009

There was a question about the notorious dba_extents view on the newsgroup a little while ago.

This is a view that has been popularly abused over the years despite warnings such as a note of mine in 2006 and even back as far as 2001 this one from Connor McDonald.

There are many reasons why this is a nasty view – and the number of reasons has grown as Oracle has evolved – but David FitzJarell has highlighted an important point in one of his blog postings that was worth a mention. So here it is.

May 31, 2009

Ancient History 2

Filed under: Infrastructure,Performance,Tuning — Jonathan Lewis @ 7:09 pm BST May 31,2009

Some time ago I posted an extract from a short presentation I had given at the UKOUG annual conference about 12 years previously.

When I found that set of slides, I also found the paper copies of another set of slides I had used at another UKOUG SIG event in 1995 where I had been explaining the mechanisms used by the cost based optimizer to decide whether or not to use an index. I thought it might be quite revealing to reproduce those slides to show how much (or how little) things have changed since then.


May 28, 2009

Frequency Histograms

Filed under: CBO,Histograms,Statistics,Tuning — Jonathan Lewis @ 7:34 pm BST May 28,2009

In a recent article on changes to the calculation of cardinality with frequency histograms I made a comment about writing programs to create fake but realistic and complete frequency histograms to work around the problems of dramatic changes in execution plan that can occur if you let Oracle create the histograms by gathering stats.

As a follow-up to that comment, here’s a little script to demonstrate the method (for a numeric column), and a few points to remember when using this method.


May 22, 2009

Index Size

Filed under: Indexing,Infrastructure,Oracle,Tuning — Jonathan Lewis @ 7:52 pm BST May 22,2009

How do you find indexes that might be worth the effort of the rebuild.

One option is to report indexes that take up much more space than they need to – and there are some fairly easy ways to find those indexes. 10g, for example, gave us the create_index_cost procedure in the dbms_space package so, for a single index, we can write a little routine that does something like the following example – running on a database:

May 17, 2009

Philosophy – 2

Filed under: CBO,Performance,Philosophy,Tuning — Jonathan Lewis @ 5:51 pm BST May 17,2009

Here’s another of those ideas that are so fundamental that you should always keep them in mind when dealing with an Oracle database.

The fundamental strategy embedded in the optimizer is based on just two key points:  

  •  How much data are you after.
  • Where did you put it.

If you “tune” SQL by fiddling with it until it goes fast enough then you’ve missed the point and you’re wasting time.

 If you start your tuning exercise by thinking about how much data you’re supposed to collect and how randomly scattered it is, then you’re going to minimise the time you spend working out the best way of acquiring that data efficiently.

[The Philosophy Series]

May 13, 2009


Filed under: CBO,Execution plans,Hints,Tuning — Jonathan Lewis @ 7:15 pm BST May 13,2009

When I am in America for a few days I usually try to find a local user group and ask them if they’d like to arrange an evening slot for their members. (Last time I was at Oracle Open World I went so far as to do a day trip up to Calgary because I didn’t think I was likely to go there any other way).

Collaborate 09 was no exception, and I contacted the CFOUG who arranged an event on the Monday evening at which I did a presentation called “Optimising through Understanding” where I talk about the analysis that could go into one simple SQL statement, producing reasons why any of several different execution plans might be the most appropriate depending on circumstances.

The presentation is a variation of one I have now given several times – and there is even a voice-over webinar version of it that I linked to from an earlier blog item.

After the event James Taylor, the chairman of CFOUG, asked if I could let him have a copy of the presentation for their website – so I sent him a pdf file of the slides, and I’ve also posted the same pdf file on my blog.

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