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It’s very easy to get a lot of information from an AWR (or Statspack) report – provided you remember what all the numbers represent. From time to time I find that someone asks me a question about some statistic and my mind goes completely blank about the exact interpretation; but fortunately it’s always possible to cross check because so many of the statistics are cross-linked. Here’s an example of a brief mental block I ran into a few days ago – I thought I knew the answer, but realised that I wasn’t 100% sure that my memory was correct:

In this Load Profile (for an AWR report of 60.25 minutes), what does that Transactions figure actually represent ?

Load Profile
~~~~~~~~~~~~                            Per Second       Per Transaction
                                   ---------------       ---------------
                  Redo size:             57,567.09             12,028.39
              Logical reads:             48,043.83             10,038.54
              Block changes:                314.07                 65.62
             Physical reads:                667.70                139.51
            Physical writes:                 46.25                  9.66
                 User calls:                619.33                129.41
                     Parses:                505.67                105.66
                Hard parses:                 36.94                  7.72
                      Sorts:                313.05                 65.41
                     Logons:                  0.56                  0.12
                   Executes:              1,165.42                243.51
               Transactions:                  4.79

  % Blocks changed per Read:    0.65    Recursive Call %:    95.18
 Rollback per transaction %:   24.95       Rows per Sort:    25.09

And, while we’re at it, what does the “Rollback per transaction %” actually mean – and what, if anything, can we infer from the value ?

Since we’re looking at transactions, it’s a fairly safe bet that the figure is something to do with commits – but is it counting only committed transactions, or does it included rolled back transactions [philosophical question - is a change that's never committed really a transaction, since it "never happened" as far as the rest of the world is concerned?]. Fortunately we can look at the Intance Activity Statistics to check.

First, though, lets convert the “Per Second” figures into an absolute value by multiplying by the duration in seconds (3,615) of the report. Allowing for rounding errors we’re looking for a value between ceiling(4.785 *3615) and floor(4.795 * 3615), i.e. between 17,298 and 17,338.  Let’s also keep in mind that the “Rollback per transaction %” is very close to 25%.

Here, then, are a couple of useful figures from the Instance Activity:

Statistic                                     Total     per Second     per Trans
-------------------------------- ------------------ -------------- -------------
user commits                                 12,986            3.6           0.8
user rollbacks                                4,316            1.2           0.3

Almost immediately you can see that user rollbacks are roughly one third of user commits (I promise I didn’t massage these number), which means the rollback percentage is just (user rollbacks / (user commits + user rollbacks)). As a further sanity check, 4,316 + 12,986 = 17,302 which falls nicely into our required range. Ta-da, job done: “Transactions” is the sum of user commits and user rollbacks (as a first approximation – but is it the whole answer).

Of course, I picked a fairly extreme example from my AWR library to make a point – which means you might now be asking whether all those rollbacks pose some sort of threat. How serious are they ? Luckily there are a couple more statistics that tell us:

Statistic                                     Total     per Second     per Trans
-------------------------------- ------------------ -------------- -------------
rollback changes - undo records                 222            0.1           0.0
transaction rollbacks                            59            0.0           0.0

The name of the first statistic has been trimmed a little in this text report, the full name is: “rolllback changes – undo records applied”. As you can see, we’ve only applied 222 undo records in our 4,316 rollback calls, so we’re not really rolling anything back (most of the time). Moreoever, the “transaction rollbacks” corroborates this observation – we have only attempted to rollback 59 “real” (data-changing) transactions. Most of those rollbacks are probably the default “rollback after every call” that some web application servers make.

As a closing thought – if you’re responsible for several different systems, it’s convenient to keep a couple of ”reference” AWR or Statspack reports from busy, normal, and quiet periods for each system; that way, if you use the figures from one system to work out the meaning of some derived value you can use the figures from another system to check if your hypothesis is correct.

Footnote: there are two other statistics that include the text “undo records applied” (not that you’ll see those words in the textual AWR report), but they both relate to creating read-consistent copies of blocks.

Footnote 2: Is anyone getting worried by my “first approximation” comment – and has anyone started wondering if there may be more to transaction rollbacks that user rollbacks, and if so where they fit into the arithmetic ?  To be continued.