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How to gather Oracle optimizer statistics with minimal risks of regression

The ATLAS experiment control room

Here is, on the Databases at CERN blog, an example to lower to risks when you need to gather statistics in production:

  • use pending stats to be able to test them before publishing
  • be ready to restore old ones if a critical regression comes after publishing

The whole demo (I encourage you to follow the Databases at CERN blog):

https://db-blog.web.cern.ch/blog/franck-pachot/2018-09-optimizer-statistics-gathering-pending-and-history

Here is a summary of commands used, for an easy copy/paste:

Column Stats

A little while ago I added a postscript about gathering stats on a virtual column to a note I’d written five years ago and then updated with a reference to a problem on the Oracle database forum that complained that stats collection had taken much longer after the addition of a function-based index. The problem related to the fact that the function-based index was supported by a virtual column that used an instr() function on a CLOB (XML) column – and gathering stats on the virtual column meant applying the function to every CLOB in the table.

So my post-script, added about a month ago, suggested adding a preference (dbms_stats.set_table_prefs) to avoid gathering stats on that column. There’s a problem with this suggestion – it doesn’t work

Stats time

I wrote a note a couple of years ago explaining how I used to get a rough idea (with some errors) of how much time was spent in the overnight stats collection by each object. One of the nice little enhancements that appeared in 12c was the appearance of a couple of functions that can report information about this type of thing, and more. These are the dbms_stats function report_stats_operations() and report_single_stats_operation() with the following definitions:

How Not to Collect Optimizer Statistics in an Application Engine Program

I was told about a PeopleSoft customer experiencing an Oracle error when collecting statistics during an Application Engine.

#eeeeee; border: 0px solid #000000; font-family: courier new; font-size: 100%; overflow: auto; padding-left: 4px; padding-right: 4px; width: 95%;">ORA-06533: Subscript beyond count 
ORA-06512: at "SYS.DBMS_STATS"…

It is possibly a manifestation of a database bug. The workaround was not to use AUTO_SAMPLE_SIZE, so instead, this customer initially coded an explicit call to DBMS_STATS.GATHER_TABLE_STATS with a specific sample size.
This blog is not about the bug, but how to manage the workaround.

Extended Histograms – 2

Following on from the previous posting which raised the idea of faking a frequency histogram for a column group (extended stats), this is just a brief demonstration of how you can do this. It’s really only a minor variation of something I’ve published before, but it shows how you can use a query to generate a set of values for the histogram and it pulls in a detail about how Oracle generates and stores column group values.

We’ll start with the same table as we had before – two columns which hold only the combinations (‘Y’, ‘N’) or (‘N’, ‘Y’) in a very skewed way, with a requirement to ensure that the optimizer provides an estimate of 1 if a user queries for (‘N’,’N’) … and I’m going to go the extra mile and create a histogram that does the same when the query is for the final possible combination of (‘Y’,’Y’).

Extended Histograms

Today’s little puzzle comes courtesy of the Oracle-L mailing list. A table has two columns (c2 and c3), which contain only the values ‘Y’ and ‘N’, with the following distribution:


select   c2, c3, count(*)
from     t1
group by c2, c3
;

C C   COUNT(*)
- - ----------
N Y       1994
Y N      71482

2 rows selected.

The puzzle is this – how do you get the optimizer to predict a cardinality of zero (or, using its best approximation, 1) if you execute a query where the predicate is:

where   c2 = 'N' and c3 = 'N'

Here are 4 tests you might try:

Cardinality Puzzle

One of the difficulties of being a DBA and being required to solve performance problems is that you probably never have enough time to think about how you got to a solution and why the solution works; and if you don’t learn about the process itself , you just don’t get better at it. That’s why I try (at least some of the time) to write articles and books (as I did with CBO Fundamentals) that

Historic Stats

If you want to examine historic object stats Oracle gives you a few procedures in the dbms_stats package to compare sets of stats captured at two different time periods, but there’s no view that you can query to get an idea of how a table’s stats have changed over time. This is a problem that can be addressed when you discover two things:

  • There are views to report pending table, index, column and histogram stats.
  • Pending stats are stored stored as “historic” stats with a future date.

Once you’ve spotted the second detail, you can acquire the SQL to generate the pending stats views:

Clustering_Factor

Here’s another little note on the clustering_factor for an index and the table preference table_cached_blocks that can be set with a call to dbms_stats.set_table_prefs(). I might be repeating a point that someone made in a comment on an older posting but if that’s the case I can’t find the comment at present, and it’s worth its own posting anyway.

Managing Cost-Based Optimizer Statistics for PeopleSoft

I gave this presentation to UKOUG PeopleSoft Roadshow 2018

PeopleSoft presents some special challenges when it comes to collecting and maintaining the object statistics used by the cost-based optimizer.