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Index Advanced Compression: Multi-Column Index Part I (There There) September 17, 2015

Posted by Richard Foote in 12c, Advanced Index Compression, Concatenated Indexes, Index Rebuild, Oracle Indexes.
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I’ve discussed Index Advanced Compression here a number of times previously. It’s the really cool additional capability introduced to the Advanced Compression Option with 12.1.0.2, that not only makes compressing indexes a much easier exercise but also enables indexes to be compressed more effectively than previously possible.

Thought I might look at a multi-column index to highlight just how truly cool this new feature is in automatically managing the compression of indexes.

First, let’s create a little table and multi-column index:

SQL> create table bowie (id number, code number, name varchar2(42));

Table created.

SQL> insert into bowie select rownum, mod(rownum,10), 'DAVID BOWIE' from dual connect by level <= 1000000;

1000000 rows created.

SQL> commit;

Commit complete.

SQL> create index bowie_idx on bowie(code, id) pctfree 0;

Index created.

OK, the key thing to note here is that the leading CODE column in the index only has 10 distinct values and so is repeated very frequently. However, the second ID column is effectively unique such that the index entry overall is also likewise effectively unique. I’ve created this index initially with no compression, but with a PCTFREE 0 to make the non-compressed index as small as possible.

If we look at the size of the index:

SQL> select index_name, leaf_blocks, blevel from dba_indexes where table_name='BOWIE';

INDEX_NAME LEAF_BLOCKS     BLEVEL
---------- ----------- ----------
BOWIE_IDX         2361          2

We notice the index currently has 2361 leaf blocks.

I’ve previously discussed how index compression basically de-duplicates the indexed values by storing them in a pre-fixed table within the index leaf block. These pre-fixed entries are them referenced in the actual index entries, meaning it’s only now necessary to store repeated values once within a leaf block. Only repeated index values within an index leaf block can therefore be effectively compressed.

In this example, it would be pointless in compressing both indexed columns as this would only result in a unique pre-fixed entry for each any every index entry, given that the ID column is unique. In fact, the overhead of having the pre-fixed table for each and every index entry would actually result in a larger, not small overall index structure.

To show how compressing the whole index would be a really dumb idea for this particular index:

SQL> alter index bowie_idx rebuild compress;

Index altered.

SQL> select index_name, leaf_blocks, blevel from dba_indexes where table_name='BOWIE';

INDEX_NAME LEAF_BLOCKS     BLEVEL
---------- ----------- ----------
BOWIE_IDX         3120          2

The COMPRESS option basically compresses the whole index and we note that rather than creating a smaller, compressed index structure, the index is in fact bigger at 3120 leaf blocks.

However, as the leading CODE column in the index only has 10 distinct values and so is heavily repeated, it would make sense to just compress this first CODE column only in the index. This of course requires us to fully understand the data associated with the index.

We can do this by specifying just how many leading columns to compress (in this case just 1):

SQL> alter index bowie_idx rebuild compress 1;

Index altered.

SQL> select index_name, leaf_blocks, blevel from dba_indexes where table_name='BOWIE';

INDEX_NAME LEAF_BLOCKS     BLEVEL
---------- ----------- ----------
BOWIE_IDX         2002          2

We note the index is indeed smaller than it was originally, now at just 2002 leaf blocks.

So this requires us to make the correct decision in how many columns in the index to compress. Getting this wrong can result in a worse, not better overall index structure.

Now with Advanced Index Compression, we don’t have to make this decision, we can simply let Oracle do it for us. As discussed previously, Oracle can go through each leaf block and decide how to best compress each leaf block. In this case, it can automatically determine that it’s only beneficial to compress the CODE column throughout the index.

If we compress this index with the new COMPRESS ADVANCED LOW clause:

SQL> alter index bowie_idx rebuild compress advanced low;

Index altered.

SQL> select index_name, leaf_blocks, blevel from dba_indexes where table_name='BOWIE';

INDEX_NAME LEAF_BLOCKS     BLEVEL
---------- ----------- ----------
BOWIE_IDX         2002          2

We note we get the index at the nice, small 2002 leaf blocks, as if we used the correct COMPRESS 1 decision.

However, the story gets a little better than this …

Let’s now modify the contents of the table so that we create some duplicates also for the second ID column:

SQL> update bowie set id=42 where id between 442000 and 542000;

100001 rows updated.

SQL> commit;

Commit complete.

OK, so for about 10% of rows, the ID column value is indeed repeated with the value 42. However, for the remaining 90% of rows (and hence index entries), the ID column remains effectively unique. So we have this 10% section of the index where ID is indeed heavily repeated with the value 42, but everywhere else within the index the ID remain unique.

If we rebuild this index again with no compression:

SQL> alter index bowie_idx rebuild nocompress pctfree 0;

Index altered.

SQL> select index_name, leaf_blocks, blevel from dba_indexes where table_name='BOWIE';

INDEX_NAME LEAF_BLOCKS     BLEVEL
---------- ----------- ----------
BOWIE_IDX         2336          2

We now end up with 2336 leaf blocks (a little smaller than before the update as we’re replacing 10% of the IDs with a smaller value of just 42).

However, the vast majority (90%) of the index entries are still unique, so attempting to compress the entire index is again unlikely to be beneficial:

SQL> alter index bowie_idx rebuild compress;

Index altered.

SQL> select index_name, leaf_blocks, blevel from dba_indexes where table_name='BOWIE';

INDEX_NAME LEAF_BLOCKS     BLEVEL
---------- ----------- ----------
BOWIE_IDX         2946          2

Indeed, the index is again now bigger at 2946 than it was when it wasn’t compressed.

We can again effectively compress just the CODE column in the index:

SQL> alter index bowie_idx rebuild compress 1;

Index altered.

SQL> select index_name, leaf_blocks, blevel from dba_indexes where table_name='BOWIE';

INDEX_NAME LEAF_BLOCKS     BLEVEL
---------- ----------- ----------
BOWIE_IDX         1977          2

OK, just compressing the CODE column has indeed resulted in a smaller index structure (just 1977 leaf blocks) as it did before.

Without Advanced Index Compression we have the option to not compress the index (the result is average), compress both columns (the result is worse) or compress just the leading column (the result is better). It’s an all or nothing approach to index compression with the best method decided at the overall index level.

We don’t have the option to compress just the leading column when it makes sense to do so, but to also compress both columns in just the 10% portion of the index where it also makes sense to do so (when we have lots of repeating 42 values for ID).

We do have this option though with Advanced Index Compression and indeed this is performed automatically by Oracle in just those leaf blocks where it’s beneficial because the decision on how to compress an index is not performed at the overall index level but at the leaf block level. As such, Advanced Index Compression has the potential to compress an index in a manner that was simply not possible previously:

SQL> alter index bowie_idx rebuild compress advanced low;

Index altered.

SQL> select index_name, leaf_blocks, blevel from dba_indexes where table_name='BOWIE';

INDEX_NAME LEAF_BLOCKS     BLEVEL
---------- ----------- ----------
BOWIE_IDX         1941          2

We notice the index is now even smaller at just 1941 leaf blocks than it was when just compressing the leading column as we now also compress the CODE column in just that 10% of the table where we also had repeating ID values.

I can’t emphasise enough just how cool this feature is !!

In fact, I would recommend something I don’t usually recommend and that is rebuilding all your indexes at least once (where you know the leading column has some repeated values) with the Advanced Index Compression option, so that all indexes can be compressed to their optimal manner.

Note though that this does require the Advanced Compression Option !!

More later🙂

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