Posts Tagged ‘Index’

A)Index Skip Scan

As the name suggest index skip scan does not scan complete index. But it scan of the subindexes.

Index skip scan lets a composite index be split logically into smaller subindexes. In skip scanning, the initial column of the composite index is not specified in the query. In other words, it is skipped.

The number of logical subindexes is determined by the number of distinct values in the initial column. Skip scanning is advantageous if there are few distinct values in the leading column of the composite index and many distinct values in the nonleading key of the index.

Suppose if I make a make a composite index with two columns sex and id. The leading column sex contains only two distinct columns. Now if I query with non-leading column that is with id column then index skip scan will be used.


SQL> create table test_skip_scan (sex varchar2(1), id number, address varchar2(20));
Table created.

SQL> create index test_skip_scan_I on test_skip_scan(sex,id);

Index created.

SQL> begin
for i in 1 .. 10000
insert into test_skip_scan values(decode(remainder(abs(round(dbms_random.value(2,20),0)),2),0,’M’,’F’),i,null);
end loop;

PL/SQL procedure successfully completed.

SQL> analyze table test_skip_scan estimate statistics;
Table analyzed.

SQL> select * from test_skip_scan where id=1;

Execution Plan
Plan hash value: 2410156502

| Id | Operation | Name | Rows | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time |
| 0 | SELECT STATEMENT | | 1 | 9 | 4 (0)| 00:00:01 |
| 1 | TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID| TEST_SKIP_SCAN | 1 | 9 | 4 (0)| 00:00:01 |
|* 2 | INDEX SKIP SCAN | TEST_SKIP_SCAN_I | 1 | | 3 (0)| 00:00:01 |

Predicate Information (identified by operation id):

2 – access(“ID”=1)

B)Index Fast Full Scan

Fast full index scans are an alternative to a full table scan when the index contains all the columns that are needed for the query, and at least one column in the index key has the NOT NULL constraint.

A fast full scan accesses the data in the index itself, without accessing the table.

It cannot be used to eliminate a sort operation, because the data is not ordered by the index key.

It reads the entire index using multiblock reads, unlike a full index scan, and can be parallelized.

Fast full index scans cannot be performed against bitmap indexes.

You can specify fast full index scans with the initialization parameter OPTIMIZER_FEATURES_ENABLE or the INDEX_FFS hint.

SQL> select /*+INDEX_FFS(test_skip_scan)*/ sex,id from test_skip_scan;

10000 rows selected.

Execution Plan
Plan hash value: 4280781105

| Id | Operation | Name | Rows | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time |
| 0 | SELECT STATEMENT | | 10000 | 40000 | 7 (0)| 00:00:01 |
| 1 | INDEX FAST FULL SCAN| TEST_SKIP_SCAN_I | 10000 | 40000 | 7 (0)| 00:00:01 |

C)Index Joins

An index join is a hash join of several indexes that together contain all the table columns that are referenced in the query. If an index join is used, then no table access is needed, because all the relevant column values can be retrieved from the indexes. An index join cannot be used to eliminate a sort operation.

You can specify an index join with the INDEX_JOIN hint. For more information on the INDEX_JOIN hint.

SQL> select sex,id from test_skip_scan where id in (select col1 from test_tab);

1000 rows selected.

Execution Plan
Plan hash value: 1059662925

| Id | Operation | Name | Rows | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time |
| 0 | SELECT STATEMENT | | 999 | 6993 | 9 (12)| 00:00:01 |
|* 1 | HASH JOIN RIGHT SEMI | | 999 | 6993 | 9 (12)| 00:00:01 |
| 2 | INDEX FAST FULL SCAN| TEST_TAB_I | 1000 | 3000 | 2 (0)| 00:00:01 |
| 3 | TABLE ACCESS FULL | TEST_SKIP_SCAN | 10000 | 40000 | 6 (0)| 00:00:01 |

Predicate Information (identified by operation id):

1 – access(“ID”=”COL1”)

D)Bitmap Indexes

A bitmap join uses a bitmap for key values and a mapping function that converts each bit position to a rowid. Bitmaps can efficiently merge indexes that correspond to several conditions in a WHERE clause, using Boolean operations to resolve AND and OR conditions.

Bitmap indexes and bitmap join indexes are available only if you have purchased the Oracle Enterprise Edition.

Expert are always welcome for their valuable comment or suggestion for the above post.

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If a procedural object, such as a stored PL/SQL function or a view, becomes invalid, the DBA does not necessarily have to do anything: the first time it is accessed, Oracle will attempt to recompile it, and this may well succeed.

But if an index becomes unusable for any reason, it must always be repaired explicitly before it can be used.

This is because an index consists of the index key values, sorted into order, each with the relevant
rowid. The rowid is the physical pointer to the location of the row to which the index key refers.

If the rowids of the table are changed, then the index will be marked as unusable. This could occur for a number of reasons. Perhaps the most common is that the table has been moved, with the ALTER TABLE…MOVE command. This will change the physical placement of all the rows, and therefore the index entries will be pointing to the wrong place. Oracle will be aware of this and will therefore not permit use of the index.

Identifying Unusable Indexes
In earlier releases of the Oracle database, when executing SQL statements, if the session attempted to use an unusable index it would immediately return an error, and the statement would fail. Release 10g of the database changes this behavior. If a statement attempts to use an unusable index, the statement will revert to an execution plan that does not require the index.

Thus, statements will always succeed—but perhaps at the cost of greatly reduced performance. This behavior is controlled by the instance parameter SKIP_UNUSABLE_INDEXES, which defaults to TRUE. The exception to this is if the index is necessary to enforce a constraint: if the index on a primary key column becomes unusable, the table will be locked for DML.

To detect indexes which have become unusable, query the DBA_INDEXES view:
SQL> select owner, index_name from dba_indexes where status=’UNUSABLE’;

Repairing Unusable Indexes

To repair the index, it must be re-created with the ALTER INDEX…REBUILD command.

This will make a pass through the table, generating a new index with correct rowid pointers
for each index key. When the new index is completed, the original unusable index is dropped.

The syntax of the REBUILD command has several options. The more important ones are TABLESPACE, ONLINE, and NOLOGGING. By default, the index will be rebuilt within its current tablespace, but by specifying a table space with the TABLESPACE keyword, it can be moved to a different one.

Also by default, during the course of the rebuild the table will be locked for DML. This can be avoided by using the ONLINE keyword.

1)Create Table and insert row in it:
SQL> create table test ( a number primary key);
Table created.

SQL> insert into test values(1);
1 row created.

SQL> commit;
Commit complete.

2)Check the Index Status
SQL> select index_name, status from user_indexes;
—————————— ——–
SYS_C0044513 VALID

3)Move the Table and Check Status:
SQL> alter table test move;
Table altered.

SQL> select index_name, status from user_indexes;
—————————— ——–

4)Rebuild The Index:
SQL> alter index SYS_C0044514 rebuild online;
Index altered.

SQL> select index_name, status from user_indexes;
—————————— ——–
SYS_C0044514 VALID

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To achieve optimum performance for data-intensive queries, materialized views and indexes are essential when tuning SQL statements. The SQL Access Advisor enables to optimize data access paths of SQL queries by recommending the proper set of materialized views, materialized view logs, and indexes for a given workload.

A materialized view provides access to table data by storing the results of a query in a separate schema object. A materialized view contains the rows resulting from a query against one or more base tables or views.

A materialized view log is a schema object that records changes to a master table’s data, so that a materialized view defined on the master table can be refreshed incrementally.

The SQL Access Advisor also recommends bitmap, function-based, and B-tree indexes. A bitmap index provides a reduced response time for many types of ad hoc queries and reduced storage requirements compared to other indexing techniques. A functional index derives the indexed value from the table data. For example, to find character data in mixed cases, a functional index can be used to look for the values as if they were all in uppercase characters.

Expert are always welcome for their valuable comment or suggestion for the above post.

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* Create an index if you frequently want to retrieve less than 15% of the rows in a large table.
* To improve performance on joins of multiple tables, index columns used for joins.

* Small tables do not require indexes.

Some columns are strong candidates for indexing. Columns with one or more of the following characteristics are candidates for indexing:

* Values are relatively unique in the column.
* There is a wide range of values (good for regular indexes).
* There is a small range of values (good for bitmap indexes).
* The column contains many nulls, but queries often select all rows having a value. In this case, use the following phrase:

WHERE COL_X > -9.99 * power(10,125)

Using the preceding phrase is preferable to:


This is because the first uses an index on COL_X (assuming that COL_X is a numeric column).

Columns with the following characteristics are less suitable for indexing:

* There are many nulls in the column and you do not search on the not null values.

The size of a single index entry cannot exceed roughly one-half (minus some overhead) of the available space in the data block.

Other Considerations:

1. The order of columns in the CREATE INDEX statement can affect query performance. In general, specify the most frequently used columns first.If you create a single index across columns to speed up queries that access, for example, col1, col2, and col3; then queries that access just col1, or that access just col1 and col2, are also speeded up. But a query that accessed just col2, just col3, or just col2 and col3 does not use the index.

2. There is a trade-off between the speed of retrieving data from a table and the speed of updating the table. For example, if a table is primarily read-only, having more indexes can be useful; but if a table is heavily updated, having fewer indexes could be preferable.

3. Drop Index that are no longer required.

4. Using different tablespaces (on different disks) for a table and its index produces better performance than storing the table and index in the same tablespace. Disk contention is reduced.

Expert are always welcome for their valuable comment or suggestion for the above post.

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Error Description
Whenever I try to rebuild index online then it fails with message ORA-00604: error occurred at recursive SQL level 1 along with ORA-01450: maximum key length (3215) exceeded. Below is the scenario.
SQL> create table tab1(a varchar2(3000),b varchar2(2000));
Table created.

SQL> create index tab1_I on tab1(a,b);
Index created.

SQL> alter index tab1_I rebuild online;
alter index tab1_I rebuild online
ERROR at line 1:
ORA-00604: error occurred at recursive SQL level 1
ORA-01450: maximum key length (3215) exceeded

Let’s now create one table with column length 3000+199=3199 bytes and see what happens.
SQL> create table tab3(a varchar2(3000),b varchar2(199));
Table created.

SQL> create index tab3_I on tab3(a,b);
Index created.

Try to rebuild it online and it works.
SQL> alter index tab3_I rebuild online;
Index altered.

Now just add extra 1 bytes on column b. And whenever we try to rebuild it online it will fail.

SQL> alter table tab3 modify b varchar2(200);
Table altered.

SQL> alter index tab3_I rebuild online;
alter index tab3_I rebuild online
ERROR at line 1:
ORA-00604: error occurred at recursive SQL level 1
ORA-01450: maximum key length (3215) exceeded

Cause of the Problem
When creating a index the total length of the index cannot exceed a certain value. Primarily this value depends on DB_BLOCK_SIZE.
If 2K block size then maximum index key length=758
If 4K block size then maximum index key length=1578
If 8K block size then maximum index key length=3218
If 16K block size then maximum index key length=6498
How the maximum index key length is measured by?
Maximum index key length=Total index length (Sum of width of all indexed column+the number of indexed columns)+Length of the key(2 bytes)+ROWID(6 bytes)+the length of the rowid(1 byte)

The index key size is limited by the value of db_block_size, because a key value may not span multiple blocks. So, based on the size of the block size of index depends. In fact, it is required that any index block must contain at least TWO index entries per block.

So we can say that the maximum key length for an index will be less than half of
the DB_BLOCK_SIZE. But we know that in a block there also needed space for PCTFREE, INITRANS and space for block overhead(Block Header,ROW Directory, Table Directory, etc). After considering these bytes the actual space that can be used for the Index key is actually just over 1/3 of the DB_BLOCK_SIZE.

Solution of the Problem
The causes already indicates what might be the solutions. Solution may be,
1)Increase your database block size. Create a tablespace with bigger block size and create index on that tablespace.

2)If you have index on multiple columns then you can split index to single or 2 columns so that size does not extended over it can handle.

3)Rebuild the index without online clause. That is
Because The online rebuild of the index creates a journal table and index. This internal journal IOT table contains more columns in its index. This is a feature of online rebuild. This time the error arises because that current value of the initialization parameter db_block_size is not large enough to create internal journal IOT.

Expert are always welcome for their valuable comment or suggestion for the above post.


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Out of all Oracle RDBMS modules, optimizer code is actually the most complicated code and different optimizer modes seem like jack while lifting your car in case of a puncture.

This paper focuses on how optimizer behaves differently when you have optimizer mode set to ALL_ROWS or FIRST_ROWS.

Possible values for optimizer_mode = choose/ all_rows/ first_rows/ first_rows[n]

By default, the value of optimizer_mode is CHOOSE which basically means ALL_ROWS (if statistics on underlying tables exist) else RULE (if there are no statistics on underlying tables). So it is very important to have statistics collected on your tables on regular intervals or else you are living in Stone Age.

FIRST_ROWS and ALL_ROWS are both cost based optimizer features. You may use them according to their requirement.


In simple terms it ensures best response time of first few rows (n rows).

This mode is good for interactive client-server environment where server serves first few rows and by the time user scroll down for more rows, it fetches other. So user feels that he has been served the data he requested, but in reality the request is still pending and query is still fetching the data in background.

Best example for this is toad, if you click on data tab, it instantaneously start showing you data and you feel toad is faster than sqlplus, but the fact is if you scroll down, you will see the query is still running.

Ok, let us simulate this on SQLPLUS

Create a table and index over it:
SQL> create table test as select * from all_objects;

Table created.

SQL> create index test_in on test(object_type);

Index created.

SQL> exec dbms_stats.gather_table_stats(‘SAC’,’TEST’)

PL/SQL procedure successfully completed.

SQL> select count(*) from test;


SQL> select count(*) from test where object_type=’JAVA CLASS’;


You see out of almost 38k records, 15k are of JAVA class. And now if you select the rows having object_type=’JAVA_CLASS’, it should not use index as almost half of the rows are JAVA_CLASS. It will be foolish of optimizer to read the index first and then go to table.

Check out the Explain plans

SQL> set autotrace traceonly exp
SQL> select * from test where object_type=’JAVA CLASS’;

Execution Plan
Plan hash value: 1357081020

| Id | Operation | Name | Rows | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time |
| 0 | SELECT STATEMENT | | 1001 | 94094 | 10 (0)| 00:00:01 |
|* 1 | TABLE ACCESS FULL| TEST | 1001 | 94094 | 10 (0)| 00:00:01 |

As you see above, optimizer has not used Index we created on this table.

Now use FIRST_ROWS hint:
SQL> select /*+ FIRST_ROWS*/ * from test where object_type=’JAVA CLASS’;

Execution Plan
Plan hash value: 3548301374

| Id | Operation | Name | Rows | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time |
| 0 | SELECT STATEMENT | | 14662 | 1345K| 536 (1)| 00:00:07 |
| 1 | TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID| TEST | 14662 | 1345K| 536 (1)| 00:00:07 |
|* 2 | INDEX RANGE SCAN | TEST_IN | 14662 | | 43 (3)| 00:00:01 |

In this case, optimizer has used the index.

Q> Why?

Ans> Because you wanted to see first few rows quickly. So, following your instructions oracle delivered you first few rows quickly using index and later delivering the rest.

See the difference in cost, although the response time (partial) of second query was faster but resource consumption was high.

But that does not mean that this optimizer mode is bad. As I said this mode may be good for interactive client-server model. In most of OLTP systems, where users want to see data fast on their screen, this mode of optimizer is very handy.

Important facts about FIRST_ROWS

  1. It gives preference to Index scan Vs Full scan (even when index scan is not good).
  2. It prefers nested loop over hash joins because nested loop returns data as selected (& compared), but hash join hashes one first input in hash table which takes time.
  3. Cost of the query is not the only criteria for choosing the execution plan. It chooses plan which helps in fetching first rows fast.
  4. It may be a good option to use this in an OLTP environment where user wants to see data as early as possible.



In simple terms, it means better throughput

While FIRST_ROWS may be good in returning first few rows, ALL_ROWS ensures the optimum resource consumption and throughput of the query. In other words, ALL_ROWS is better to retrieve the last row first.

In above example while explaining FIRST_ROWS, you have already seen how efficient ALL_ROWS is.

Important facts about ALL_ROWS

  1. ALL_ROWS considers both index scan and full scan and based on their contribution to the overall query, it uses them. If Selectivity of a column is low, optimizer may use index to fetch the data (for example ‘where employee_code=7712’), but if selectivity of column is quite high (‘where deptno=10’), optimizer may consider doing Full table scan. With ALL_ROWS, optimizer has more freedom to its job at its best.
  2. Good for OLAP system, where work happens in batches/procedures. (While some of the report may still use FIRST_ROWS depending upon the anxiety level of report reviewers)
  3. Likes hash joins over nested loop for larger data sets.


Cost based optimizer gives you flexibility to choose response time or throughput. So use them based on your business requirement.

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There is one more critical aspect which I wanted to discuss is the cost/effort related to rebuilding indexes.

Rebuilding an index is quite a costly operation and you must evaluate the benefit Vs effort before rebuilding an index.

Rebuilding (online) an index requires additional resources like space, cpu usage, time.

Here is one more option, which is less used or probably less popular “coalesce”.

Rebuild Vs Coalesce


  • Can move an index to a different tablespace
  • Resource consuming process
  • Takes more time
  • Creates a new tree
  • Shortens the height of an index if it was increased due to DML activities
  • Rebuilding can affect future DML’s because index becomes compact and for future DML’s index has to be extend dynamically.


  • Cannot move an index to a different tablespace
  • Comparatively less resource consuming
  • Takes relatively less time
  • Only merge the adjacent free space between leaf blocks within a branch
  • Doesn’t shorten height of index
  • Since coalesce doesn’t effect the total size and only frees up the unused space, it doesn’t affect future DML’s

Coalescing the index, frees up space of adjacent leaf blocks within a branch block. This way the number of blocks or extents which an index is using will not change but there will be more number of free blocks which can be used for future inserts or updates.

In an OLTP environment, where data is highly volatile, coalesce is better because it doesn’t shrink the index and the free space remains with the index segment.

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Need is necessary for any change. I hope all agree to this. So why many DBA’s (not all) rebuilds indexes on periodical basis without knowing the impact of it?

Let’s revisit the facts stated by many Oracle experts:

– B Tree indexes can never be unbalanced
– The distance of any leaf block (which contains the index value) from the root block is always same.
– B Tree performance is good for both small and large tables and does not degrade with the growth of table

When will rebuild help?

• When the data in index is sparse (lots of holes in index, due to deletes or updates) and your query is usually range based.

If your SQL’s use “=” predicate, rebuilding of index may not help you at all unless the DML’s (updates/deletes) on the table are cause of increasing the height of index. Due to heavy updates/deletes on a table, the space in the index can be left unused (unless it is reused) due to which block splits and if the splitting goes beyond the level of accomodation, the height of index increases by 1.
In simpler terms, unless you reduce the height (BLEVEL) of index, the time taken to reach the leaf block from root block will not change.

As explained above, the height of index can be decreased by rebuild of an index(only if height was increased to updates/deletes).

Only in case of range scan, rebuild (consider coalesce option also) may help.

Select * from emp where empno between 1000 and 2000;

In above case there could be lot of deleted/updated data which will also be read while reading between 1000 to 2000. Rebuilding will reclaim any unused space and hence the select could be faster.

• Index fast full scan/ Index full scan. (rare case)
If your SQL’s are designed in a way that mostly data is selected from index (it doesn’t goes to table). In this case the whole index is read for data not for redirecting to table.

Select count(empno) from emp; — you have an index in empno
Select empno from emp — you have an index in empno

Both the above SELECTs will fetch the data from Index only. Since the whole index is getting read, the space used by deleted rows is also read at the time of SELECT operation

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