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Min/Max costing

A question about the min/max index scan appeared on the Oracle Developer Community forum recently. The query supplied in the thread was a little odd – you might ask why anyone would run it as it stands – and I’ve modified it to make it even stranger to demonstrate a range of details.

I’ll start with a simple data set, not bothering to collect stats because that will be done automatically on create for my versions:


I’ve just been prompted to complete and publish a draft I started a few years ago. It’s (ultimately) about a feature that appeared in 9i but doesn’t seem to show up very often at client sites or as a common solution to performance problems on the various Oracle forums – but maybe that’s not surprising given how slowly analytic functions have been taken up.

I want to work towards the feature by starting with a requirement, then examine several solutions. To supply a touch of realism I’ll create an orders table, which holds a customer id and an order date (including time), ,and then ask for a report of the most recent order for each customer. Here’s some starting data:

SSQ Unnesting

I hesitate to call something a bug simply because Oracle doesn’t do what I thought it would do; but when a trace file says:

“I’m not going to do X because P is not true

followed a little later by

“I’m going to do Y because P is true

then I think it’s safe to say there’s a bug there somewhere – even if it’s only a bug in the code that writes the trace file.

The example is this note is a feature that appeared in 12c (possibly only 12.2) – the ability to unnest scalar subqueries in the select list and transform them into outer joins. Here’s an example to demonstrate the mechanism:

Scalar Subq Bug

This is an observation that came up on the Oracle Developer Forum a couple of days ago, starting life as the fairly common problem:

I have a “select” that runs quickly  but when I use in a “create as select” it runs very slowly.

In many cases this simply means that the query was a distributed query and the plan changed because the driving site changed from the remote to the local server. There are a couple of other reasons, but distributed DML is the one most commonly seen.

In this example, though, the query was not a distributed query, it was a fully local query. There were three features to the query that were possibly suspect, though:

Can’t Unnest

In an echo of a very old “conditional SQL” posting, a recent posting on the ODC general database discussion forum ran into a few classic errors of trouble-shooting. By a lucky coincidence this allowed me to rediscover and publish an old example of parallel execution gone wild before moving on to talk about the fundamental problem exhibited in the latest query.

The ODC thread started with a question along the lines of “why isn’t Oracle using the index I hinted”, with the minor variation that it said “When I hint my SQL with an index hint it runs quickly so I’ve created a profile that applies the hint, but the hint doesn’t get used in production.”

Misleading Execution Plan

A couple of weeks ago I published a note about an execution plan which showed the details of a scalar subquery in the wrong place (as far as the typical strategies for interpreting execution plans are concerned). In a footnote to the article I commented that Andy Sayer had produced a simple reproducible example of the anomaly based around the key features of the query supplied in the original posting and had emailed it to me.  With his permission (and with some minor modifications) I’ve reproduced it below:

Shrink Space

I have never been keen on the option to “shrink space” for a table because of the negative impact it can have on performance.

I don’t seem to have written about it in the blog but I think there’s something in one of my books pointing out that the command moves data from the “end” of the table (high extent ids) to the “start” of the table (low extent ids) by scanning the table backwards to find data that can be moved and scanning forwards to find space to put it. This strategy can have the effect of increasing the scattering of the data that you’re interested in querying if most of your queries are about “recent” data, and you have a pattern of slowing deleting aging data. (You may end up doing a range scan through a couple of hundred table blocks for data at the start of the table that was once packed into a few blocks near the end of the table.)

Case Study

A question about reading execution plans and optimising queries arrived on the ODC database forum a little while ago; the owner says the following statement is taking 14 minutes to return 30,000 rows and wants some help understanding why.

If you look at the original posting you’ll see that we’ve been given the text of the query and the execution plan including rowsource execution stats. There’s an inconsistency between the supplied information and the question asked, and I’ll get back to that shortly, but to keep this note fairly short I’ve excluded the 2nd half of the query (which is a UNION ALL) because the plan says the first part of the query took 13 minutes and 20 second and the user is worried about a total of 14 minutes.

Subquery Order

From time to time I’ve wanted to optimize a query by forcing Oracle to execute existence (or non-existence) subqueries in the correct order because I know which subquery will eliminate most data most efficiently, and it’s always a good idea to look for ways to eliminate early. I’ve only just discovered (which doing some tests on 18c) that Oracle introduced the /*+ order_subq() */ hint that seems to be engineered to do exactly that.

Here’s a very simple (and completely artificial) demonstration of use.

Filtering LOBs

A two-part question about the FILTER operation appeared on the Oracle-L list server a couple of days ago. The first part was a fairly common question – one that’s often prompted by the way the optimizer used to behave in older versions of Oracle. Paraphrased, it was: “Why is the total cost of the query so high compared to the sum of its parts?”

Here’s the query, and the execution plan.