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Parallel Costs

While creating a POC of a SQL rewrite recently I received a little surprise as I switched my query from serial execution to parallel execution and saw the optimizer’s estimated cost increase dramatically. I’ll explain why in a moment, but it made me think it might be worth setting up a very simple demonstration of the anomaly. I created a table t1 by copying view all_source – which happened to give me a table with about 100,000 rows and 1117 blocks – and then ran the query ‘select max(line) from t1;’ repeating the query with a /*+ parallel(t1 2) */ hint. From here are the two execution plans I got:

Quantum Data

That’s data that isn’t there until you look for it, sort of, from the optimizer’s perspective.

Here’s some code to create a sample data set:

create table t1
with generator as (
	select	--+ materialize
		rownum id
	from dual
	connect by
		level <= 1e4
	rownum					id,
	mod(rownum-1,200)			mod_200,
	mod(rownum-1,10000)			mod_10000,
	lpad(rownum,50)				padding
	generator	v1,
	generator	v2
	rownum <= 1e6

		ownname		 => user,
		tabname		 =>'T1',
		method_opt 	 => 'for all columns size 1'

Now derive the execution plans for a couple of queries noting, particularly, that we are using queries that are NOT CONSISTENT with the current state of the data (or more importantly the statistics about the data) – we’re querying outside the known range.

Plan puzzle

I was in Munich a few weeks ago running a course on Designing Optimal SQL and Troubleshooting and Tuning, but just before I flew in to Munich one of the attendees emailed me with an example of a statement that behaved a little strangely and asked me if we could look at it during the course.  It displays an odd little feature, and I thought it might be interesting to write up what I did to find out what was going on. We’ll start with the problem query and execution plan:

Cardinality Feedback

A fairly important question, and a little surprise, appeared on Oracle-L a couple of days ago. Running a query completed quickly on the first execution then ran very slowly on the second execution because Oracle had used cardinality feedback to change the plan. This shouldn’t really be entirely surprising – if you read all the notes that Oracle has published about cardinality feedback – but it’s certainly a little counter-intuitive.


No, not the 10th posting about first_rows() this week – whatever it may seem like – just an example that happens to use the “calculate costs for fetching the first 10 rows” optimizer strategy and does it badly. I think it’s a bug, but it’s certainly a defect that is a poster case for the inherent risk of using anything other than all_rows optimisation.  Here’s some code to build a couple of sample tables:

Quiz night

Here’s a little puzzle that came up on OTN recently.  (No prizes for following the URL to find the answer) (Actually, no prizes anyway). There’s more in the original code sample than was really needed, so although I’ve done a basic cut and paste from the original I’ve also eliminated a few lines of the text:

First Rows

Following on from the short note I published about the first_rows optimizer mode yesterday here’s a note that I wrote on the topic more than 2 years ago but somehow forgot to publish.

I can get quite gloomy when I read some of the material that gets published about Oracle; not so much because it’s misleading or wrong, but because it’s clearly been written without any real effort being made to check whether it’s true. For example, a couple of days ago [ed: actually some time around May 2012] I came across an article about optimisation in 11g that seemed to be claiming that first_rows optimisation somehow “defaulted” to first_rows(1) , or first_rows_1, optimisation if you didn’t supply a final integer value.

First Rows

I received an email earlier on this year asking me my opinion of the first_rows option for the optimizer mode. My correspondent was looking at a database with the following settings:


He felt that first_rows was a very old optimizer instruction that might cause suboptimal execution plans in it’s attempt to avoid blocking operations. As for the cost ratio, no-one seemed to be able to explain why it was there.

He was correct; I’ve written the first_rows option a few times in the past – it was left in for backwards compatibility, and reported as such from 9i onwards!

Quiz night

Here’s a script to create a table, with index, and collect stats on it. Once I’ve collected stats I’ve checked the execution plan to discover that a hint has been ignored (for a well-known reason):

SQL Plan Baselines

Here’s a thread from Oracle-L that reminded of an important reason why you still have to hint SQL sometimes (rather than following the mantra “if you can hint it, baseline it”).

I have a query that takes 77 seconds to optimize (it’s not a production query, fortunately, but one I engineered to make a point). I can enable sql plan baseline capture and create a baseline for it, and given the nature of the query I can be confident that the resulting plan will always be exactly the plan I want. If I have to re-optimize the query at any time  (because it runs once per hour, say, and is constantly being flushed from the library cache) how much time will the SQL plan baseline save for me ?

The answer is NONE.

The first thing that the optimizer does for a query with a stored sql plan baseline is to optimize it as if the baseline did not exist.