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Category: Indexing

Index Unions

Erik Darling continues a multi-state indexing spree:

Index union is a little bit different from index intersection. Rather than joining two indexes together, their result sets are concatenated together.

Just like you’d see if you wrote a query with union or union all. Crazy, huh?

As with index intersection, the optimizer has a choice between concatenation and merge join concatenation, and lookups back to the clustered index are possible.

These I see even less commonly than index intersections—so often, the optimizer decides simply to scan one index and the solution is to break the queries out into two with UNION ALL.

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Fun with Multiple Indexes

Erik Darling makes a fairly rare multi-index sighting:

Notice! Both of our nonclustered indexes get used, and without a lookup are joined together.

Because the predicates are of the inequality variety, the join columns are not ordered after each seek. That makes a hash join the most likely join type.

I’ve always had this belief that there are probably more cases in which multi-index solutions are useful than the SQL Server optimizer gives us. This belief may be irrational.

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Semi-Join Plan Weirdness

Erik Darling has an interesting scenario for us:

This post isn’t meant to dissuade you from using EXISTS or NOT EXISTS when writing queries. In fact, most of the time I think they make a lot of sense.

But weird things can happen along the way, especially if you don’t have supporting indexes, or if supporting indexes aren’t chosen by the optimizer for various reasons.

In this post, I’m going to show you a query plan pattern that can occur in semi-join plans, and what you can do about it.

Click through for the problem and the solution. Me? I don’t like semi-joins on principle. Either join or don’t join; give me none of these cowardly half-measures. I’m not sure what to think about anti-semi-joins because I’m apparently anti semi-join for the purposes of this belabored joke, but I’m a bit suspicious of them as well.

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The Pain of OR Clauses

Erik Darling wants you to embrace the healing power of AND:

This is one of my least favorite query patterns, because even with appropriate indexes, performance often isn’t very good without additional interventions.

Without indexes in place, or when “indexes aren’t used”, then the query plans will often look like one of these.

Maybe not always, but there are pretty common.

It’s something that I do wish the optimizer could be smarter about. One important thing to note in Erik’s demo: the OR clause is on two different columns, so SELECT x.Col1 FROM dbo.TblX x WHERE x.ID = 8 OR x.ID = 7 works fine, but WHERE x.ID = 8 OR x.SomethingElse = 14 is liable to cause performance issues on a large enough table.

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Indexing for Physical Join Operators

Deepthi Goguri continues a series on physical join operators:

In the Part1 of decoding the physical join operators, we learned about the different types of physical operators: Nested loops, Merge joins and Hash joins. We have seen when they are useful and how to take advantage of each for the performance of our queries. We have also seen when they are useful and when they needs to be avoided.

In this part, we will know more about these operators and how the indexes really help these operator to perform better so the queries can execute faster.

Read on to see how to define indexes for each of the three physical operators.

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Query Plans and Window Functions

Erik Darling has a two-fer here. First, window functions and parallelism:

When windowing functions don’t have a Partition By, the parallel zone ends much earlier on than it does with one.

That doesn’t mean it’s always slower, though. My general experience is the opposite, unless you have a good supporting index.

But “good supporting index” is for tomorrow. You’re just going to have to deal with that.

Second, columnstore behavior with respect to window functions:

Not only is the parallel version of the row mode plan a full second slower, but… look at that batch mode plan.

Look at it real close. There’s a sort before the Window Aggregate, despite reading from the same nonclustered index that the row mode plan uses.

But the row mode plan doesn’t have a Sort in it. Why?

Check out both posts.

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So You Want to Index

Erik Darling has an indexing strategy for querulous normies:

Most queries will have a where clause. I’ve seen plenty that don’t. Some of’em have surprised the people who developed them far more than they surprised me.

But let’s start there, because it’s a pretty important factor in how you design your indexes. There are all sorts of things that indexes can help, but the first thing we want indexes to do in general is help us locate data.

None of this is groundbreaking but Erik does a really good job of laying out the order in which you want to consider specific factors.

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Index Creation with DROP_EXISTING

Monica Rathbun takes us through the DROP_EXISTING option when modifying an index:

When you are making changes to an existing Non-Clustered index SQL Server provides a wide variety of options. One of the more frequently used methods is DROP EXISTING; in this post you will learn all about that option. This option automatically drops an existing index after recreating it, without the index being explicitly dropped. Let us take a moment understand the behavior of this choice.

What I really want is DROP_IF_EXISTS. I want idempotent commands: if I run it once or a thousand times, I end up in the same state whether there was an index there at the start or not (or if attempt #793 failed due to running out of sort space in tempdb or something, leaving me with no index). DROP_EXISTING is only idempotent if the index already existed, but then you have to ask, why is it important if an index of that name is already there? The important part of the statement is that I want an end state which includes this index in this form.

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