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Hash Clusters – 3

This note is a quick summary of an oddity that came to light after a twitter conversation with Christian Antognini yesterday. First a little test script to get things going:

Quiz Night

Okay, it’s a little early in the day (for me at least) to say “night” – but here’s a fun little detail I picked up in Prague yesterday. What do you think will happen when you try to execute the following two queries:

select 0/0 from dual;

select count(*) from (select 0/0 from dual);

I’ve only tried it on and – I could imagine the results might be different if you’re still running 8i or 9i.

If those are too easy, you might want to think about an example that Julian Dontcheff produced at OpenWorld:

select power(0,0) from dual;

What SHOULD the answer be, and what do you think Oracle will supply ?

FBI decode

It probably won’t surprise many people to hear me say that the decode() function can be a bit of a nuisance; and I’ll bet that quite a lot of people have had trouble occasionally trying to get function-based indexes that use this function to behave properly. So (to put it all together and support the general directives that case is probably a better choice than decode() and that the cast() operator is an important thing to learn) here’s an example of how function-based indexes don’t always allow you to work around bad design/code. (Note: this is a model of a problem I picked up at a client site, stripped to a minimum – you have to pretend that I’m not allowed to fix the problem by changing code).

First we create some data and indexes, and gather all relevant stats:

Sorted Hash Clusters RIP

Sorted Hash Clusters have been around for several years, but I’ve not yet seen them being used, or even investigated in detail. This is a bit of a shame, really, because they seem to be engineered to address a couple of interesting performance patterns.

The basic concept is that data items that look alike are stored together (clustered) by applying a hashing function to generate a block address; but on top of that, if you query the data by “hashkey”, the results are returned in sorted order of a pre-defined “sortkey” without any need for sorting. (On top of everything else, the manuals describing what happens and how it works are wrong).

MV Refresh

Here’s a funny little problem I came across some time ago when setting up some materialized views. I have two tables, orders and order_lines, and I’ve set up materialized view logs for them that allow a join materialized view (called orders_join) to be fast refreshable. Watch what happens if I refresh this view just before gathering stats on the order_lines table.

I have a little script that start with “set echo on”, then calls two packaged procedures, one to refresh the join view, the other to collect stats on the order_lines table; here’s the output from that script:

12c subquery factoring

I’ve written a few notes about anomalies in subquery factoring (with subquery) in the past, principally making a fuss about the fact that moving an inline view into a “with subquery” can cause a plan to change even when the internal code moves the subquery back in line. With the arrival of 12c one of my first sets of tests was to rerun all the examples to see how many of them had been addressed. I hadn’t written about as many examples as I had thought, and some of them had been fixed before 12c, but here are few references to a couple of outstanding items that I thought worth a mention:

12c Debug

Now that 12c is out, here’s an idea that might save you some time even if you have no intention of migrating to, or even testing, the product for a couple of years. Download the “List of bugs fixed in 12c”: you may find that it’s the best starting point when you’re trying to solve a problem in your current version of Oracle.

A slightly more sophisticated version of the same thing – download and install the product, then take a dump of v$system_fix_control – that may also give you some insight into anomalies (that are not necessarily declared as bugs) in the way Oracle – and the optimizer in particular – behave. I updated the referenced note to add in a couple of figures for 12.1 – but one figure that’s not there is the number of database parameters: now at 368 (in my Beta 3 release) and 3,333 in the x$.

Invisible ?

I’ll probably have to file this one under “Optimizer ignoring hints” – except that it should also go under “bugs”, and that’s one of the get-out clauses I use in my “hints are not hints” argument.

Sometimes an invisible index isn’t completely invisible.

Here’s a demonstration from showing something which, to my mind, is a very annoying problem. The objects are in a tablespace that has been created with uniform extents of 1MB on an 8KB block size, using freelist management. I’ve rigged the Hakan factor to ensure that I get exactly 40 rows per block, and I’ve set the system statistics to ensure that a relatively small swing in cost results in a change in execution plan.

Not In Nasty

Actually it’s probably not the NOT IN that’s nasty, it’s the thing you get if you don’t use NOT IN that’s more likely to be nasty. Just another odd little quirk of the optimizer, which I’ll demonstrate with a simple example (running under in this case):

Metadata bug

Here’s a funny little bug – which probably won’t cause any damage – that may remind you that (most of) the people who work for Oracle are just ordinary people like you and me who make ordinary little mistakes in their programming. It’s a bug I discovered by accident because I just wanted to check something about how a particular undo tablespace had been defined, and I called dbms_metadata instead of querying dba_tablespaces. Here’s the cut-n-paste from an SQL*Plus session on