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Rebuilding Indexes: Danger With Clustering Factor Calculation (Chilly Down) July 17, 2018

Posted by Richard Foote in CBO, Clustering Factor, Data Clustering, Index Rebuild, Oracle Indexes, TABLE_CACHED_BLOCKS.
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chilly down

Let me start by saying if you don’t already following Jonathan Lewis’s excellent Oracle blog, do yourself a favour. In a recent article, Jonathan highlighted a danger with rebuilding indexes (or indeed creating an index) when used in relation to collecting index statistics with the TABLE_CACHED_BLOCKS preference.

I’ve discussed the importance of the TABLE_CACHED_BLOCKS statistics collection preference a number of times previously, but the issue discussed by Jonathan is worth repeating here.

Let me start by repeating a demo I’ve used previously, by creating a table stored in an ASSM tablespace with data that is well clustered, but reported as being badly clustered due to how the Clustering Factor (CF) is calculated by default.

Firstly, I create a simple table and sequence and run a procedure that populates the table with a monotonically increasing ID column  populated via the sequence. But importantly, the procedure is executed concurrently from 3 separate sessions such that the monotonically increasing ID values are not stored in the table in precisely ID order as each of the 3 sessions inserts rows into different sets of table blocks:

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

Table created.

SQL> create sequence bowie_assm_seq order;

Sequence created.

SQL> create or replace procedure pop_bowie_assm as
2 begin
3 for i in 1..100000 loop
4 insert into bowie_assm values (bowie_assm_seq.nextval, 'DAVID BOWIE');
5 commit;
6 end loop;
7 end;
8 /

Procedure created.

The following is executed concurrently in 3 different sessions:

SQL> exec pop_bowie_assm

PL/SQL procedure successfully completed.

If you can imagine 3 different blocks within the table, block one has rows with ID values 1,4,7,10,13,16…, block two has rows with ID values 2,5,8,11,14,17… and block three has rows with ID values 3,6,9,12,15,18…

So the data is well clustered in that the data for a large number of consecutive IDs are stored within a few blocks, but they’re not stored precisely in ID order within the table.

If we now create an index on the ID column and look at the Clustering Factor (CF) of the index:

SQL> create index bowie_assm_id_i on bowie_assm(id);

Index created.

SQL> exec dbms_stats.gather_table_stats(ownname=>null, tabname=>'BOWIE_ASSM');

PL/SQL procedure successfully completed.

SQL> SELECT t.table_name, i.index_name, t.blocks, t.num_rows, i.clustering_factor
2 FROM user_tables t, user_indexes i
3 WHERE t.table_name = i.table_name AND i.index_name='BOWIE_ASSM_ID_I';

TABLE_NAME      INDEX_NAME               BLOCKS   NUM_ROWS CLUSTERING_FACTOR
--------------- -------------------- ---------- ---------- -----------------
BOWIE_ASSM      BOWIE_ASSM_ID_I            1000     300000            219416

We note the calculated CF is extremely poor at 219416 (a value much closer to the number of index entries than the number of blocks in the table) as the default calculation notes that most index entries have a rowid that points to a different table block to the previous index entry rowid.

If we run a query that only requires a moderate number of rows (approx. 0.13% of the table) to be returned:

SQL> select * from bowie_assm where id between 42 and 429;

388 rows selected.

Execution Plan
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id | Operation         | Name       | Rows | Bytes | Cost (%CPU) |  Time     |
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|  0 | SELECT STATEMENT  |            |  389 |  6613 |    282 (11) |  00:00:01 |
|* 1 | TABLE ACCESS FULL | BOWIE_ASSM |  389 |  6613 |    282 (11) |  00:00:01 |
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Statistics
----------------------------------------------------------
   0 recursive calls
   0 db block gets
 974 consistent gets
   0 physical reads
   0 redo size
8869 bytes sent via SQL*Net to client
 883 bytes received via SQL*Net from client
  27 SQL*Net roundtrips to/from client
   0 sorts (memory)
   0 sorts (disk)
 388 rows processed

We note the CBO decides to use a Full Table Scan (FTS) as the index is too costly and inefficient to use with such a poor CF value.

However, if say retrieving 100 rows, the CBO thinks it needs to visit many more table blocks than the 3 blocks that in actual fact contain the 100 rows of interest.

The TABLE_CACHED_BLOCKS statistics preference allows us to modify how the CF is calculated by not incrementing the CF value if an index rowid points to a block that was visited just TABLE_CACHED_BLOCKS ago.

If we now re-calculate the CF but with the TABLE_CACHED_BLOCKS preference set to say 42:

SQL> exec dbms_stats.set_table_prefs(ownname=>user, tabname=>'BOWIE_ASSM', pname=>'TABLE_CACHED_BLOCKS', pvalue=>42);

PL/SQL procedure successfully completed.

SQL> exec dbms_stats.gather_index_stats(ownname=>user, indname=>'BOWIE_ASSM_ID_I',estimate_percent=> null);

PL/SQL procedure successfully completed.

SQL> SELECT t.table_name, i.index_name, t.blocks, t.num_rows, i.clustering_factor
2 FROM user_tables t, user_indexes i
3 WHERE t.table_name = i.table_name AND i.index_name='BOWIE_ASSM_ID_I';

TABLE_NAME      INDEX_NAME               BLOCKS   NUM_ROWS CLUSTERING_FACTOR
--------------- -------------------- ---------- ---------- -----------------
BOWIE_ASSM      BOWIE_ASSM_ID_I            1000     300000               909

We notice the CF has dropped significantly, down to just 909 from its previous 219416 value.

If we now re-run the same query as before:

SQL> select * from bowie_assm where id between 42 and 429;

388 rows selected.

Execution Plan
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id | Operation                           | Name            | Rows | Bytes | Cost (%CPU) | Time      |
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|  0 | SELECT STATEMENT                    |                 |  389 |  6613 |       4 (0) |  00:00:01 |
|  1 | TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID BATCHED | BOWIE_ASSM      |  389 |  6613 |       4 (0) |  00:00:01 |
|* 2 | INDEX RANGE SCAN                    | BOWIE_ASSM_ID_I |  389 |       |       2 (0) |  00:00:01 |
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Statistics
----------------------------------------------------------
   0  recursive calls
   0  db block gets
   6  consistent gets
   0  physical reads
   0  redo size
8734  bytes sent via SQL*Net to client
 608  bytes received via SQL*Net from client
   2  SQL*Net roundtrips to/from client
   0  sorts (memory)
   0  sorts (disk)
 388  rows processed

We notice the CBO now automatically decides to use the index and more importantly, that at just 6 consistent gets, the query is now much more efficient as a result.

The index was always the more efficient access method, but because of the poor CF that was previously calculated, the CBO got it wrong. Now that a more “accurate” CF is calculated, all is now well.

However, if we now decide to rebuild this index:

alter index bowie_assm_id_i rebuild;

Index altered.

SQL> select * from bowie_assm where id between 42 and 429;

388 rows selected.

Execution Plan
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id | Operation         | Name       | Rows | Bytes | Cost (%CPU) | Time      |
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|  0 | SELECT STATEMENT  |            |  389 |  6613 |    282 (11) |  00:00:01 |
|* 1 | TABLE ACCESS FULL | BOWIE_ASSM |  389 |  6613 |    282 (11) |  00:00:01 |
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Statistics
----------------------------------------------------------
   3 recursive calls
   0 db block gets
 956 consistent gets
   0 physical reads
   0 redo size
4094 bytes sent via SQL*Net to client
 608 bytes received via SQL*Net from client
   2 SQL*Net roundtrips to/from client
   0 sorts (memory)
   0 sorts (disk)
 388 rows processed

So we’re back to the less efficient FTS. Why ? A look at the CF reveals the problem:

SQL> SELECT t.table_name, i.index_name, t.blocks, t.num_rows, i.clustering_factor
2 FROM user_tables t, user_indexes i
3 WHERE t.table_name = i.table_name AND i.index_name='BOWIE_ASSM_ID_I';

TABLE_NAME      INDEX_NAME               BLOCKS   NUM_ROWS CLUSTERING_FACTOR
--------------- -------------------- ---------- ---------- -----------------
BOWIE_ASSM      BOWIE_ASSM_ID_I            1000     300000            219416

When the index is rebuilt and so when the index statistics are implicitly recalculated, the TABLE_CACHED_BLOCKS preference is ignored. This applies even if this preference is set at the schema or database level:

SQL> exec dbms_stats.set_schema_prefs(ownname=>user, pname=>'TABLE_CACHED_BLOCKS', pvalue=>42);

PL/SQL procedure successfully completed.

SQL> exec dbms_stats.set_database_prefs(pname=>'TABLE_CACHED_BLOCKS', pvalue=>42);

PL/SQL procedure successfully completed.

SQL> alter index bowie_assm_id_i rebuild online;

Index altered.

SQL> SELECT t.table_name, i.index_name, t.blocks, t.num_rows, i.clustering_factor
2 FROM user_tables t, user_indexes i
3 WHERE t.table_name = i.table_name AND i.index_name='BOWIE_ASSM_ID_I';

TABLE_NAME      INDEX_NAME               BLOCKS   NUM_ROWS CLUSTERING_FACTOR
--------------- -------------------- ---------- ---------- -----------------
BOWIE_ASSM      BOWIE_ASSM_ID_I            1000     300000            219416

This issue also applies when an index is newly created, any TABLE_CACHED_BLOCKS setting is ignored, until the time when statistics are again collected via DBMS_STATS:

SQL> drop index bowie_assm_id_i;

Index dropped.

SQL> create index bowie_assm_id_i on bowie_assm(id);

Index created.

SQL> SELECT t.table_name, i.index_name, t.blocks, t.num_rows, i.clustering_factor
2 FROM user_tables t, user_indexes i
3 WHERE t.table_name = i.table_name AND i.index_name='BOWIE_ASSM_ID_I';

TABLE_NAME      INDEX_NAME               BLOCKS   NUM_ROWS CLUSTERING_FACTOR
--------------- -------------------- ---------- ---------- -----------------
BOWIE_ASSM      BOWIE_ASSM_ID_I            1000     300000            219416

SQL> exec dbms_stats.gather_index_stats(ownname=>user, indname=>'BOWIE_ASSM_ID_I',estimate_percent=> null);

PL/SQL procedure successfully completed.

SQL> SELECT t.table_name, i.index_name, t.blocks, t.num_rows, i.clustering_factor
2 FROM user_tables t, user_indexes i
3 WHERE t.table_name = i.table_name AND i.index_name='BOWIE_ASSM_ID_I';

TABLE_NAME      INDEX_NAME               BLOCKS   NUM_ROWS CLUSTERING_FACTOR
--------------- -------------------- ---------- ---------- -----------------
BOWIE_ASSM      BOWIE_ASSM_ID_I            1000     300000               909

This is currently being investigation by Oracle as unpublished bug 28292026.

Again, another example of the dangers of blindly rebuilding indexes without a valid justification…

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