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Ignoring Hints

One of the small changes (and, potentially big but temporary, threats) in 18.3 is the status of the “ignore hints” parameter. It ceases to be a hidden (underscore) parameter so you can now officially set parameter optimizer_ignore_hints to true in the parameter file, or at the system level, or at the session level. The threat, of course, it that some of your code may use the hidden version of the parameter (perhaps in an SQL_Patch as an opt_param() option rather than in its hint form) which no longer works after the upgrade.

But there’s more. The parameter (whether the old hidden version or the new revealed version) doesn’t make the optimizer ignore parallel() hints. But 18.3 now has a related parameter optimizer_ignore_parallel_hints to address this limitation. Here’s a quick demo – we start by creating a table and then running a query where the full tablescan is clearly the default strategy that the optimizer would take if we didn’t hint an indexed access path:

rem
rem     Script:         ignore_parallel_hints.sql
rem     Author:         Jonathan Lewis
rem     Dated:          May 2019
rem 

create table t1
as
with generator as (
        select 
                rownum id
        from dual 
        connect by 
                level <= 1e4 -- > comment to avoid WordPress format issue
)
select
        rownum                          id,
        mod(rownum,10)                  n1,
        lpad(rownum,10,'0')             v1,
        lpad('x',100,'x')               padding
from
        generator       v1,
        generator       v2
where
        rownum <= 1e4 -- > comment to avoid WordPress format issue
;

create index t1_i1 on t1(id);

set serveroutput off

prompt  =============
prompt  Baseline test
prompt  =============

select
        /*+ index(t1) */
        n1, sum(id)
from
        t1
where
        id > 0
group by
        n1
order by
        n1
;

select * from table(dbms_xplan.display_cursor);


SQL_ID  gudnnk7j7q5bz, child number 0
-------------------------------------
select  /*+ index(t1) */  n1, sum(id) from  t1 where  id > 0 group by
n1 order by  n1

Plan hash value: 356059923

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation                            | Name  | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     |
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT                     |       |       |       |   198 (100)|          |
|   1 |  SORT GROUP BY                       |       |    10 |    70 |   198   (2)| 00:00:01 |
|   2 |   TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID BATCHED| T1    | 10000 | 70000 |   196   (1)| 00:00:01 |
|*  3 |    INDEX RANGE SCAN                  | T1_I1 | 10000 |       |    22   (0)| 00:00:01 |
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
---------------------------------------------------
   3 - access("ID">0)


Now we repeat the exercise with the version-specific “alter session” command below – and you should try each option with each version of Oracle if you want to do the complete test cycle – to see that the session will ignore hints and the plan will change (side note – using the underscore version  with 18.3 doesn’t raise an error, the statement is silently ignored):


alter session set "_optimizer_ignore_hints" = true;
alter session set "optimizer_ignore_hints" = true;

SQL_ID  gudnnk7j7q5bz, child number 1
-------------------------------------
select  /*+ index(t1) */  n1, sum(id) from  t1 where  id > 0 group by
n1 order by  n1

Plan hash value: 3946799371

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation          | Name | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     |
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT   |      |       |       |    27 (100)|          |
|   1 |  SORT GROUP BY     |      |    10 |    70 |    27  (12)| 00:00:01 |
|*  2 |   TABLE ACCESS FULL| T1   | 10000 | 70000 |    25   (4)| 00:00:01 |
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
---------------------------------------------------
   2 - filter("ID">0)

Then, of course, we have to test a query with a parallel() hint – or shared() hint, which is the internal equivalent you will notice occasionally in outlines or the “remote” statement for distributed execution plans – to show that we don’t yet ignore parallel queries – the plans following the code are from 18.3:


select
        /*+ parallel(t1 3) */
        n1, sum(id)
from
        t1
where
        id > 0
group by
        n1
order by
        n1
;

select * from table(dbms_xplan.display_cursor);

alter session set "optimizer_ignore_parallel_hints" = true;

select
        /*+ parallel(t1 3) */
        n1, sum(id)
from
        t1
where
        id > 0
group by
        n1
order by
        n1
;

select * from table(dbms_xplan.display_cursor);




SQL_ID  7jynurdtc48kv, child number 0
-------------------------------------
select  /*+ parallel(t1 3) */  n1, sum(id) from  t1 where  id > 0 group
by  n1 order by  n1

Plan hash value: 2919148568

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation                | Name     | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     |    TQ  |IN-OUT| PQ Distrib |
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT         |          |       |       |    10 (100)|          |        |      |            |
|   1 |  PX COORDINATOR          |          |       |       |            |          |        |      |            |
|   2 |   PX SEND QC (ORDER)     | :TQ10001 |    10 |    70 |    10  (10)| 00:00:01 |  Q1,01 | P->S | QC (ORDER) |
|   3 |    SORT GROUP BY         |          |    10 |    70 |    10  (10)| 00:00:01 |  Q1,01 | PCWP |            |
|   4 |     PX RECEIVE           |          |    10 |    70 |    10  (10)| 00:00:01 |  Q1,01 | PCWP |            |
|   5 |      PX SEND RANGE       | :TQ10000 |    10 |    70 |    10  (10)| 00:00:01 |  Q1,00 | P->P | RANGE      |
|   6 |       HASH GROUP BY      |          |    10 |    70 |    10  (10)| 00:00:01 |  Q1,00 | PCWP |            |
|   7 |        PX BLOCK ITERATOR |          | 10000 | 70000 |     9   (0)| 00:00:01 |  Q1,00 | PCWC |            |
|*  8 |         TABLE ACCESS FULL| T1       | 10000 | 70000 |     9   (0)| 00:00:01 |  Q1,00 | PCWP |            |
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
---------------------------------------------------
   8 - access(:Z>=:Z AND :Z<=:Z) -- > comment added to avoid wordpress format issue
       filter("ID">0)

Note
-----
   - Degree of Parallelism is 3 because of table property


Session altered.


SQL_ID  7jynurdtc48kv, child number 1
-------------------------------------
select  /*+ parallel(t1 3) */  n1, sum(id) from  t1 where  id > 0 group
by  n1 order by  n1

Plan hash value: 3946799371

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation          | Name | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     |
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT   |      |       |       |    27 (100)|          |
|   1 |  SORT GROUP BY     |      |    10 |    70 |    27  (12)| 00:00:01 |
|*  2 |   TABLE ACCESS FULL| T1   | 10000 | 70000 |    25   (4)| 00:00:01 |
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
---------------------------------------------------
   2 - filter("ID">0)


tl;dr

In 18.3 Oracle exposes the parameter optimizer_ignore_hints – any code using depending on the hidden version of this parameter will no longer behave as expected. 18.3 also introduces optimiser_ignore_parallel_hints to allow you to ignore parallel hints as well.