Subqueries And Performance

Grant Fritchey busts a myth:

I’ve written before about the concept of cargo cult data professionals. They see one issue, one time, and consequently extrapolate that to all issues, all the time. It’s the best explanation I have for why someone would suggest that a sub-query is flat out wrong and will hurt performance.

Let me put a caveat up front (which I will reiterate in the conclusion, just so we’re clear), there’s nothing magically good about sub-queries just like there is nothing magically evil about sub-queries. You can absolutely write a sub-query that performs horribly, does horrible things, runs badly, and therefore absolutely screws up your system. Just as you can with any kind of query. I am addressing the bad advice that a sub-query is to be avoided because they will inherently lead to poor performance.

There are times not to use subqueries, but this post is absolutely correct:  understand the reasons why things may or may not perform well, and don’t be afraid to try things out.

Related Posts

Table Variable Deferred Compilation: When It Works

Milos Radivojevic gives us a good example of when table variable deferred compilation is a good thing: As mentioned in the previous article, SQL Server 2019 cardinality estimations for a table variable are based on actual table variable row counts. Therefore, in SQL Server 2019, we should expect better estimations and better plans for queries […]

Read More

Batch Mode Processing On Rowstore Tables

Dmitry Pilugin shares some thoughts on the expansion of batch mode processing to rowstore tables: The main advantages of Batch Mode are: Algorithms optimized for the multi-core modern CPUs; Better CPU cache utilization and increased memory throughput; Reduced number of CPU instructions per processed row. All these features make Batch Mode much faster than Row […]

Read More


October 2016
« Sep Nov »