NVL() change

One of the problems of functions is that the optimizer generally doesn’t have any idea on how a predicate based on function(col) might affect the cardinality. However,  the optimizer group are constantly refining the algorithms to cover an increasing number of special cases more accurately. This is a good thing, of course – but it does mean that you might be unlucky on an upgrade where a better cardinality estimate leads to a less efficient execution plan. Consider for example (more...)

Cache anomaly

Just a quick heads-up for anyone who likes to play around with the Keep and Recycle caches.

In 11g Oracle introduced the option for serial direct path reads for tablescans on tables that was sufficiently large – which meant more than the small_table_threshold – provided the table wasn’t already sufficient well cached.  (The rules mean that the choice of mechanism can appear to be a little random in the production environment for tables that are near (more...)

Easy – Oops.

A question came up on OTN today asking for suggestions on how to enforce uniqueness on a pair of columns only when the second column was not null. There’s an easy and obvious solution – but I decided to clone the OP’s example and check that I’d typed my definition up before posting it; and the result came as a bit of a surprise. Here’s a demo script (not using the OP’s table):

create table t1  


The following question came up on OTN recently:

Which one gives better performance? Could please explain.

1) nvl( my_column, ‘N’) <> ‘Y’

2) nvl( my_column, ‘N’) = ‘N’

It’s a question that can lead to a good 20 minute discussion – if you were in some sort of development environment and had a fairly free hand to do whatever you wanted.

The most direct answer is that you could expect the performance to be the (more...)


One of the problems of “knowing” so much about Oracle is that the more you know the more you have to check on each new release of the software. An incoming ping on my posting “Lock Horror” reminded me that I was writing about, and the terminal release is, and the whole thing may have changed in – so I ought to re-run some tests (more...)


Here’s a little test you might want to try. Examine the following script, and decide what sort of symptoms you would see in the AWR report.

create global temporary table gtt1(n1 number);

execute dbms_workload_repository.create_snapshot;

insert into gtt1 values(1);
truncate table gtt1;

-- repeat insert/truncate for a total of 100 cycles

execute dbms_workload_repository.create_snapshot;

-- generate an AWR report across the interval.

I don’t need anyone to tell me their results – but if your (more...)


One of my most-repeated observations about trouble-shooting Oracle is that things break when you start combining features. Here’s an example that demonstrates the point.

It’s possible to create “descending” indexes – or indexes with descending columns, as I prefer to call them, and there’s a special “min/max range scan” optimizer operation for a particular kind of index usage – demonstrated in the following code fragment (running under, and reporting the rowsource (more...)

RLS bug

RLS – row level security, aka VPD (virtual private database) or FGAC (fine grained access control) has a critical bug in 11g. The bug is unpublished, but gets mentioned in various other documents, so can be identified as: Bug: 7828323 ”SYS_CONTEXTS RETURNS WRONG VALUE WITH SHARED_CONTEXT_SENSITIVE”

The title tells you nearly everything you need to know – if you’ve declared a security policy as context_sensitive or shared_context_sensitive then a change to the context ought to result (more...)

Temporary Segments

A question came up on oracle-l recently about identifying which temporary segment in v$tempseg_usage is associated with which global temporary table. Here’s my answer:

v$tempseg_usage is a synonym for v$sort_usage – which is the view that I still tend to think of first.

v$sort_usage sits on top of x$ktsso – and in x$ktsso the column ktssoobjn is the object number for the definition of the global temporary table (ditto for any indexes on the table). (more...)

12c Temporary

Just one of those little snippets to cover something new and remind of something old. A single session can now have three (or more) temporary tablespaces in use at the same time for different reasons.

  • In 12c you can set parameter temp_undo_enabled to true, at which point the undo relating to global temporary tables (GTTs) will be written into the database default temporary tablespace, which means it won’t generate redo. As an interesting side effect (more...)