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Join Elimination 12.2

From time to time someone comes up with the question about whether or not the order of tables in the from clause of a SQL statement should make a difference to execution plans and performance. Broadly speaking the answer is no, although there are a couple of boundary cases were a difference can appear unexpectedly.

Parallel_index hint

Prompted by a recent OTN posting I’ve dug out from my library the following demonstration of an anomalty with the parallel_index() hint. This note is a warning about  how little we understand hints and what they’re supposed to mean, and how we can be caught out by an upgrade. We’ll start with a data set which, to match a comment made in the origina posting rather than being a necessity for the demonstration, has an index that I’ve manipulated to be larger than the underlying table:

Lost Concatenation

This note models one feature of a problem that came up at a client site recently from a system running – a possible bug in the way the optimizer handles a multi-column in-list that can lead to extremely bad cardinality estimates.

The original query was a simple three table join which produced a bad plan with extremely bad cardinality estimates; there was, however, a type-mismatch in one of the predicates (of the form “varchar_col = numeric”), and when this design flaw was addressed the plan changed dramatically and produced good cardinality estimates. The analysis of the plan, 10053 trace, and 10046 trace files done in-house suggested that the problem might relate in some way to an error in the handling of SQL Plan Directives to estimate cardinalities.

DML and Bloom

One of the comments on my recent posting about “Why use pl/sql bulk strategies over simple SQL” pointed out that it’s not just distributed queries that can change plans dramatically when you change from a simple select to “insert into … select …”; there’s a similar problem with queries that use Bloom filters – the filter disappears when you change from the query to the DML.

This seemed a little bizarre, so I did a quick search on MoS (using the terms “insert select Bloom Filter”) to check for known bugs and then tried to run up a quick demo. Here’s a summary of the related bugs that I found through my first simple search:

Invisible Bug

At this Wednesday’s Oracle Midlands event someone asked me if Oracle would use the statistics on invisible indexes for the index sanity check. I answered that there had been a bug in the very early days of invisible indexes when the distinct_key statistic on the index could be used even though the index itself would not be considered as a candidate in the plan (and the invisible index is still used to avoid foreign key locking – even in 12c – it’s only supposed to be invisible to the optimizer).

Cursor_Sharing problem

Here’s a possible bug (though maybe “not a bug”) that came up over the weekend on the OTN database forum. An application generating lots of “literal string” SQL was tested with cursor_sharing set to force. This successfully forced the use of bind variable substitution, but a particular type of simple insert statement started generating very large numbers of child cursors – introducing a lot of mutex waits and library cache contention. Here’s a (substituted) statement that was offered as an example of the problem:

Wrong Results

Just in – a post on the Oracle-L mailing lists asks: “Is it a bug if a query returns one answer if you hint a full tablescan and another if you hint an indexed access path?” And my answer is, I think: “Not necessarily”:

SQL> select /*+ full(pt_range)  */ n2 from pt_range where n1 = 1 and n2 = 1;

SQL> select /*+ index(pt_range pt_i1) */ n2 from pt_range where n1 = 1 and n2 = 1;


The index is NOT corrupt.

Partitioned Bitmap Join

If you don’t want to read the story, the summary for this article is:

If you create bitmap join indexes on a partitioned table and you use partition exchanges to load data into the table then make sure you create the bitmap join indexes on the loading tables in exactly the same order as you created them on the partitioned table or the exchange will fail with the (truthful not quite complete) error: ORA-14098: index mismatch for tables in ALTER TABLE EXCHANGE PARTITION.

Subquery Effects

Towards the end of last year I used a query with a couple of “constant” subqueries as a focal point for a blog note on reading parallel execution plans. One of the comments on that note raised a question about cardinality estimates and, coincidentally, I received an email about the cost calculations for a similar query a few days later.

Unfortunately there are all sorts of anomalies, special cases, and changes that show up across versions when subqueries come into play – it’s only in recent versions of 11.2, for example, that a very simple example I’ve got of three equivalent statements that produce the same execution plan report the same costs and cardinality. (The queries are:  table with IN subquery, table with EXISTS subquery, table joined to “manually unnested” subquery – the three plans take the unnested subquery shape.)

NLS Mess

The Oracle database has all sorts of little details built into it to help it deal with multi-national companies, but since they’re not commonly used you can find all sorts of odd “buggy” bits of behaviour when you start to look closely. I have to put “buggy” in quotes because some of the reported oddities are the inevitable consequences of (for example) how multi-byte character sets have to work; but some of the oddities look as if they simply wouldn’t be there if the programmer writing the relevant bit of code had remembered that they also had to cater for some NLS feature.