Indexing

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Online Rebuild

I’ve commented in the past about the strange stories you can find on the internet about how Oracle works and how sometimes, no matter how daft those stories seem, there might be something behind them. Here’s one such remark I came across a little while ago – published in two or three places this year:

“An index that enforces referential integrity cannot be rebuilt online.”

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Compression Units – 5

The Enkitec Extreme Exadata Expo (E4) event is over, but I still have plenty to say about the technology. The event was a great success, with plenty of interesting speakers and presentations. As I said in a previous note, I was particularly keen to hear  Frits Hoogland’s comments  on Exadata and OLTP, Richard Foote on Indexes, and Maria Colgan’s comments on how Oracle is making changes to the optimizer to understand Exadata a little better.

All three presentations were interesting – but Maria’s was possiby the most important (and entertaining). In particular she told us about two patches for 11.2.0.3, one current and one that is yet to be released (unfortunately I forgot to take  note of the patch numbers).

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Compression Units – 2

When I arrived in Edinburgh for the UKOUG Scotland conference a little while ago Thomas Presslie, one of the organisers and chairman of the committee, asked me if I’d sign up on the “unconference” timetable to give a ten-minute talk on something. So I decided to use Hybrid Columnar Compression to make a general point about choosing and testing features. For those of you who missed this excellent conference, here’s a brief note of what I said.

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Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

For those not familiar with Richard Foote’s extensive blog about indexes (and if you’re not you should be) – the title of this note is a blatant hi-jacking of his preferred naming mechanism.

It’s just a short note to remind myself (and my readers) that anything you know about Oracle, and anything published on the Internet – even by Oracle Corp. and its employees – is subject to change without notice (and sometimes without being noticed). I came across one such change today while read the Expert Oracle Exadata book by Kerry Osborne, Randy Johnson and Tanel Poder. It was just a little throwaway comment to the effect that:

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Index Sizing

I was in a discussion recently about how to estimate the size of a bitmap index before you build it, and why it’s much harder to do this for bitmap indexes than it is for B-tree indexes. Here’s what I wrote in “Practical Oracle 8i”:

An interesting feature of bitmap indexes is that it is rather hard to predict how large the index segment will be. The size of a b-tree index is based very closely on the number of rows and the typical size of the entries in the index column.  The size of a bitmap index is dictated by a fairly small number of bit-strings which may have been compressed to some degree depending upon the number of consecutive 1’s and 0’s.   To pick an extreme example, imagine a table of one million rows that has one column that may contain one of eight values ‘A’ to ‘H’ say, which has been generated in one of of the two following extreme patterns:

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NVL2()

There are many little bits and pieces lurking in the Oracle code set that would be very useful if only you had had time to notice them. Here’s one that seems to be virtually unknown, yet does a wonderful job of eliminating calls to decode().

The nvl2() function takes three parameters, returning the third if the first is null and returning the second if the first is not null. This is  convenient for all sorts of example where you might otherwise use an expression involving  case or decode(), but most particularly it’s a nice little option if you want to create a function-based index that indexes only those rows where a column is null.

Here’s a code fragment to demonstrate the effect:

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Drop Constraint

If you drop a unique or primary key constraint the index that supports it may be dropped at the same time – but this doesn’t always happen. Someone asked me recently if it was possible to tell whether or not an index would be dropped without having to find out the hard way by dropping the constraint. The answer is yes – after all, Oracle has to make a decision somehow, so if we can find out how it makes the decision we can predict the decision.

So here’s my best theory so far – along with the observations that led to it. First, run a trace while dropping a primary key constraint and see if this gives you any clues; on an instance running 10gR2 I noticed the following statement appearing in the trace file immediately after the delete from cdef$ (constraint definitions).

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Index naming

Here’s a model of a little problem I came across recently. It’s something I wrote about many years ago, and I thought I’d seen a note on Metalink explaining that the issue had been addressed; but the problem is still there, even in 11.2.0.3.

We start with a little data set (and it’s my standard setup of 8KB blocks, LMTs, 1MB uniform extents, and no ASSM):

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Index Hash

You might think from the title that this little note is going to be about the index hash join – you would be half right, it’s also about how the optimizer seems to make a complete hash of dealing with index hash joins.

Let’s set up a simple data set and a couple of indexes so that we can take a closer look:

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Quiz Night

In my previous post, I made the comment:

In general, if you have a three-column index that starts with the same columns in the same order as the two-column index then the three-column index will be bigger and have a higher clustering_factor.

So what scenarios can you come up with that fall outside the general case ?
Alternatively, what argument could you put forward that justifies the general claim ?

I’ll try to respond to comments on this post a little more quickly than the last one, but I still have quite a lot of other comments to catch up on.

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