Hints

Jonathan Lewis's picture

Hinting

A posting on the OTN database forum a few days ago demonstrated an important problem with hinting – especially (though it didn’t come up in the thread)  in the face of upgrades. A simple query needed a couple of hints to produce the correct plan, but a slight change to the query seemed to result in Oracle ignoring the hints. The optimizer doesn’t ignore hints, of course, but there are many reasons why it might have appeared to so I created a little demonstration of the problem – starting with the following data set:

Jonathan Lewis's picture

Wrong Results

Just in – a post on the Oracle-L mailing lists asks: “Is it a bug if a query returns one answer if you hint a full tablescan and another if you hint an indexed access path?” And my answer is, I think: “Not necessarily”:


SQL> select /*+ full(pt_range)  */ n2 from pt_range where n1 = 1 and n2 = 1;

        N2
----------
         1
SQL> select /*+ index(pt_range pt_i1) */ n2 from pt_range where n1 = 1 and n2 = 1;

        N2
----------
         1
         1

The index is NOT corrupt.

Jonathan Lewis's picture

Connect By

I received an email a couple of days ago that was a little different from usual – although the obvious answer was “it’s the data”. A connect by query with any one of several hundred input values ran in just a few seconds, but with one specific input it was still running 4,000 seconds later using the same execution plan – was this a bug ?

There’s nothing to suggest that it should be, with skewed data anything can happen: even a single table access by exact index could take 1/100th of a second to return a result if there was only one row matching the requirement and 1,000 seconds if there were 100,000 rows in 100,000 different table blocks (and the table was VERY big). The same scaling problem could be true of any type of query – and “connect by” queries can expose you to a massive impact because their run time can increase geometrically as the recursion takes place.

Jonathan Lewis's picture

Hinting

This is just a little example of thinking about hinting for short-term hacking requirements. It’s the answer to a question that came up on the Oracle-L listserver  a couple of months ago (Oct 2015) and is a convenient demonstration of a principle that can often (not ALWAYS) be applied as a response to the problem: “I can make this query work quickly once, how do I make it work quickly when I make it part of a join ?”

The question starts with this query, which returns “immediately” for any one segment:

Jonathan Lewis's picture

Five Hints

This is the content of a “whitepaper” I wrote for my presentation “Five Hints for Optimising SQL” at the recent DOAG conference.

Introduction

Adding hints to production code is a practice to be avoided if possible, though it’s easy to make the case for emergency patching, and hinting is also useful as the basis of a method of generating SQL Plan Baselines. However, notwithstanding (and sometimes because of) the continuing enhancements to the optimizer, there are cases where the only sensible option for dealing with a problem statement is to constrain the broad brush strategy that the optimizer can take in a way that allows it to find a reasonable execution plan in a reasonable time.

This note describes in some detail the use and effects of five of the “classic” hints that I believe are reasonable strategic options to redirect the optimizer when it doesn’t choose a path that you consider to be the most appropriate choice.

Jonathan Lewis's picture

Filter Hash

One of the most irritating features of solving problems for clients is that the models I build to confirm my diagnosis and test my solutions often highlight further anomalies, or make me ask questions that might produce some useful answers to future problems.

Recently I had cause to ask myself if Oracle would push a filter subquery into the second tablescan of a hash join – changing a plan from this:

filter
	hash join
		table access full t1
		table access full t2
	table access by rowid t3
		index range scan t3_i1

to this:

hash join
	table access full t1
	filter
		table access full t2
		table access by rowid t3
			index range scan t3_i1

or, perhaps more likely, to this:

davidkurtz's picture

PeopleTools 8.54: %SQLHint Meta-SQL

This is part of a series of articles about new features and differences in PeopleTools 8.54 that will be of interest to the Oracle DBA.
 
This new PeopleCode meta-SQL macro performs a search of SQL statement for the nth instance of SQL command keyword and inserts a string after it.

davidkurtz's picture

PeopleTools 8.54: %SQLHint Meta-SQL

This is part of a series of articles about new features and differences in PeopleTools 8.54 that will be of interest to the Oracle DBA.
 
This new PeopleCode meta-SQL macro performs a search of SQL statement for the nth instance of SQL command keyword and inserts a string after it.

Jonathan Lewis's picture

push_pred – evolution

Here’s a query (with a few hints to control how I want Oracle to run it) that demonstrates the difficulty of trying to solve problems by hinting (and the need to make sure you know where all your hinted code is):

Jonathan Lewis's picture

Baselines

I’m not very keen on bending the rules on production systems, I’d prefer to do things that look as if they could have happened in a completely legal fashion, but sometimes it’s necessary to abuse the system and here’s an example to demonstrate the point. I’ve got a simple SQL statement consisting of nothing more than an eight table join where the optimizer (on the various versions I’ve tested, including 12c) examines 5,040 join orders (even though _optimizer_max_permutations is set to the default of 2,000 – and that might come as a little surprise if you thought you knew what that parameter was supposed to do):

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