SQL efficiency

Bad plan or something else?

The first step in any tuning activity is determining the scope of an issue — so if a query is not performing satisfactory, then the first question is whether it’s query’s execution plan or something else (e.g. a global database issue or even a problem external to the database). Full diagnostics may be time-consuming or even inaccessible, so it’s desirable to resolve this question by just looking at the query and its basic statistics. There is a method of doing that using SQL efficiency, and in this post I’m going to describe it.

The method is not my invention. I read about it in Christian Antognini’s book “Troubleshooting Oracle Performance”, but in fact I was using it in a slightly different form long before. Continue reading “SQL efficiency”


In this post, I continue on the topic of examining SQL plans. I will talk about one DBMS_XPLAN function, DISPLAY_CURSOR (because it’s probably the most useful one when troubleshooting ongoing performance issues, and also because other functions have a lot of similiarity to it). I will discuss frequently used options and some common problems.


As already mentioned in my previous post on the subject, using DBMS_XPLAN to display rowsource stats requires a bit of preparation. Namely, one needs to either set STATISTICS_LEVEL parameter to ALL (can be done on the session level), or use gather_plan_statistics hint in the query, and then run the query.

Usage DBMS_XPLAN.display_cursor

Once the statement is executed, the plan with row source statistics can be obtained in a convenient format using DBMS_XPLAN.display_cursor.

DBMS_XPLAN.display_cursor takes three parameters, all of which are optional:


SQL tuning: real-life example

An example of tuning — nothing special, but it does illustrate several aspects of tuning work, so I thought I’d make a blog post out of it.

Yesterday I as contacted by a development team working with a database. Their complaint was the traditional “the system is slow”. Despite very unspecific symptoms, they were very specific about the time when it all started. I didn’t have access to AWR on that database, so instead I looked at top wait events in DBA_HIST_SYSTEM_EVENT for recent snapshots, nothing interesting. The top wait event was db file sequential read (with db file scattered read as a very distant second). Since that particular group was working with just one user in the database, I looked at ASH data for this user — same thing, just a bunch of db file seqential reads. Continue reading “SQL tuning: real-life example”