The Bitmap Operator

Hugo Kornelis explains what the Bitmap operator is in an execution plan:

As implied by its logical operation, “Create Bitmap”, the Bitmap operator creates a bitmap. (I assume that this is the only logical operation that the Bitmap operator supports, since I have never seen a Bitmap operator with a different logical operation). A bitmap is a structure that stores Boolean values for a consecutive range of values in a small amount of memory. E.g. the range from 1 to 8000 has 8000 possible values. These can be represented as 8000 bits in just 1000 bytes. For each value, the location of the corresponding bit can be computed by dividing the value by 8; the dividend is the location and the remainder determines which of the bits to use. The value of that specific bit can then be tested, or it can be set to false (zero) or true (one).

The bitmap is named Opt_Bitmap1005 in this case. This name is not exposed in the quick property popup, but you can find in in the full property sheet as shown here, in the Defined Values property. You will also note that this bitmap is not included in the Output List property. That’s because this bitmap is not created for each individual row; there is a single bitmap that accumulates information from all rows. Other operators in the execution plan can reference this bitmap by name, even though it is not passed to them in their input rows.

Hugo goes into great detail on the operator, so you’ll want to set aside some time to read this.

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