Tuesday, February 16, 2010

How the Query Optimizer Chooses Execution Plans for Joins

The query optimizer considers the following when choosing an execution plan:

  • The optimizer first determines whether joining two or more tables definitely results in a row source containing at most one row. The optimizer recognizes such situations based on UNIQUE and PRIMARY KEY constraints on the tables. If such a situation exists, then the optimizer places these tables first in the join order. The optimizer then optimizes the join of the remaining set of tables.

  • For join statements with outer join conditions, the table with the outer join operator must come after the other table in the condition in the join order. The optimizer does not consider join orders that violate this rule. Similarly, when a subquery has been converted into an antijoin or semijoin, the tables from the subquery must come after those tables in the outer query block to which they were connected or correlated. However, hash antijoins and semijoins are able to override this ordering condition in certain circumstances.

    With the query optimizer, the optimizer generates a set of execution plans, according to possible join orders, join methods, and available access paths. The optimizer then estimates the cost of each plan and chooses the one with the lowest cost. The optimizer estimates costs in the following ways:

  • The cost of a nested loops operation is based on the cost of reading each selected row of the outer table and each of its matching rows of the inner table into memory. The optimizer estimates these costs using the statistics in the data dictionary.

  • The cost of a sort merge join is based largely on the cost of reading all the sources into memory and sorting them.

  • The cost of a hash join is based largely on the cost of building a hash table on one of the input sides to the join and using the rows from the other of the join to probe it.


    The optimizer also considers other factors when determining the cost of each operation. For example:

  • A smaller sort area size is likely to increase the cost for a sort merge join because sorting takes more CPU time and I/O in a smaller sort area.

  • A larger multiblock read count is likely to decrease the cost for a sort merge join in relation to a nested loop join. If the database can read a large number of sequential blocks from disk in a single I/O, then an index on the inner table for the nested loop join is less likely to improve performance over a full table scan. The multiblock read count is specified by the initialization parameter DB_FILE_MULTIBLOCK_READ_COUNT.

    You can use the ORDERED hint to override the optimizer's choice of join orders. If the ORDERED hint specifies a join order that violates the rule for an outer join, then the optimizer ignores the hint and chooses the order. Also, you can override the optimizer's choice of join method with hints.

    Quote: Oracle® Database Performance Tuning Guide 11g Release 2 (11.2)
  •