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Execution plans

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.

Filter Subquery

There’s a current thread on the OTN database forum showing an execution plan with a slightly unusual feature. It looks like this:

Fixed Stats

There are quite a lot of systems around the world that aren’t using the AWR (automatic workload repository) and ASH (active session history) tools to help them with trouble shooting because of the licensing requirement – so I’m still finding plenty of sites that are using Statspack and I recently came across a little oddity at one of these sites that I hadn’t noticed before: one of the Statspack snapshot statements was appearing fairly regularly in the Statspack report under the “SQL Ordered by Elapsed Time” section – even when the application had been rather busy and had generated lots of other work that was being reported. It was the following statement – the collection of file-level statistics:

IOT limitation

In the right circumstances Index Organized Tables (IOTs) give us tremendous benefits – provided you use them in the ideal fashion. Like so many features in Oracle, though, you often have to compromise between the benefit you really need and the cost of the side effect that a feature produces.

Conditional SQL- 6

An odd little anomaly showed up on the OTN database forum a few days ago where a query involving a table covered by Oracle Label Security (OLS) seemed to wrap itself into a non-mergeable view when written using traditional Oracle SQL, but allowed for view-merging when accessed through ANSI standard SQL. I don’t know why there’s a difference but it did prompt a thought about non-mergeable views and what I’ve previously called “conditional SQL” – namely SQL which holds a predicate that should have been tested in the client code and not passed to the database engine.

The thought was this – could the database engine decide to do a lot of redundant work if you stuck a silly predicate inside a non-mergeable view: the answer turns out to be yes. Here’s a demonstration I’ve run on 11g and 12c:

Plan Shapes

There are a number of articles, webinars, and blogs online about how to read execution plans, but many of them seem to stop after the the minimum description of the simplest type of plan, so I thought I’d throw out a brief comment on a couple of the slightly more complicated things that are likely to appear fairly commonly because you sometimes find plans with very similar shapes but extremely different interpretation.

First: select with scalar subqueries in the select list (there’s no need to worry about what the table definitions look like):

Uniquely parallel

Here’s a surprising (to me) execution plan from – parallel execution to find one row in a table using a unique scan of a unique index – produced by running the following script (data creation SQL to follow):

Quiz Night

Here’s an execution plan from a recent OTN database forum posting:


My favourite format options for dbms_xplan.display_cursor().

This is another of those posts where I tell you about something that I’ve frequently mentioned but never documented explicitly as a good (or, at least, convenient) idea. It also another example of how easy it is to tell half the story most of the time when someone asks a “simple” question.

E-rows / A-rows

A recent post on the OTN database forum reminded me how easy it is to forget to keep repeating a piece of information after the first couple of hundred times you’ve explained it. No matter how “intuitively obvious” it is for one person, it’s new to someone else.

Here’s an execution plan that raised the question that prompted this note – it comes from calling dbms_xplan.display_cursor() with the ‘allstats last’ format option after enabling rowsource execution statisics (using hint gather_plan_statistics, or setting parameter statistics_level to all, or setting hidden parameter “_rowsource_execution_statistics” to true):