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See my notes to understand the concepts behind table row re-sequencing and how to tell if re-sequencing the rows in your table might improve your SQL execution speed.
The clustering_factor measures how synchronized an index is with the data in a table. A table with a high clustering factor is out-of-sequence with the rows and large index range scans will consume lots of I/O. Conversely, an index with a low clustering_factor is closely aligned with the table and related rows reside together of each data block, making indexes very desirable for optimal access. Rules for Oracle indexing To understand how Oracle chooses the execution plan for a query, you need to first learn how the SQL optimizer decides whether or not to use an index. Oracle provides a column called clustering_factor in the dba_indexes view that provides information on how the table rows are synchronized with the index. The table rows are synchronized with the index when the clustering factor is close to the number of data blocks and the column value is not row-ordered when the clustering_factor approaches the number of rows in the table. For queries that access common rows with a table (e.g. get all items in order 123), unordered tables can experience huge I/O as the index retrieves a separate data block for each row requested.
If we group like rows together (as measured by the clustering_factor in dba_indexes) we can get all of the row with a single block read because the rows are together. Note: As we see grouping related rows together can make a huge reduction in disk I/O, and Oracle has embraced this row sequencing idea in 10g and beyond with the sorted hash cluster, a fully supported way to ensure that related rows always reside together on the same data block. Today we have choices for row sequencing. We can even group related rows from several tables together with multi-table hash clusters, or we can use single table clusters, or manual row re-sequencing (CTAS with ORDER BY) to achieve this goal:
To illustrate, consider this query that filters the result set using a column value:
select customer_name from customer where ustomer_state = ‘New Mexico’;
Here, the decision to use an index vs. a full-table scan is at least partially determined by the percentage of customers in New Mexico. An index scan is faster for this query if the percentage of customers in New Mexico is small and the values are clustered on the data blocks. Why, then, would a CBO choose to perform a full-table scan when only a small number of rows are retrieved? Perhaps it is because the CBO is considering the clustering of column values within the table. Four factors work together to help the CBO decide whether to use an index or a fulltable scan: the selectivity of a column value, the db_block_size, the avg_row_len, and the cardinality. An index scan is usually faster if a data column has high selectivity and a lowclustering_factor.
This column has small rows, large blocks, and a low clustering factor.
In the real-world, many Oracle database use the same index for the vast majority of queries. If these queries always to an index range scan (e.g. select all orders for a customer), them row resequencing for a better clustering_factor can greatly reduce Oracle overhead:
Oracle provides several storage mechanisms to fetch a customer row and all related orders with just a few row touches:
Sorted hash clusters - New in 10g, a great way to sequence rows for super-fast SQL Multi-table hash cluster tables - This will cluster the customer rows with the order rows, often on a single data block.
Periodic reorgs in primary index order - You can use the dbms_redefinitionutility to periodically re-sequence rows into index order.
To maintain row order, the DBA will periodically re-sequence table rows (or use a single-table, or multi-table cluster) in cases where a majority of the SQL references a column with a high clustering_factor, a large db_block_size, and a small avg_row_len. This removes the full-table scan, places all adjacent rows in the same data block, and makes the query up to thirty times faster. On the other hand, as the clustering_factor nears the number of rows in the table, the rows fall out of sync with the index. This high clustering_factor, where the value is close to the number of rows in the table (num_rows), indicates that the rows are out of sequence with the index and an additional I/O may be required for index range scans. Even when a column has high selectivity, a high clustering_factor, and smallavg_row_len, there is still indication that column values are randomly distributed in the table, and an additional I/O will be required to obtain the rows. An index range scan would cause a huge amount of unnecessary I/O as shown in below, thus making a full-table scan more efficient.
This column has large rows, small blocks, and a high clustering factor.
In sum, the CBOs decision to perform a full-table vs. an index range scan is influenced by the clustering_factor, db_block_size, and avg_row_len. It is important to understand how the CBO uses these statistics to determine the fastest way to deliver the desired rows.
The Clustering Factor The clustering factor is a number which represent the degree to which data is randomly distributed in a table.
In simple terms it is the number of “block switches” while reading a table using an index.
Figure: Bad clustering factor The above diagram explains that how scatter the rows of the table are. The first index entry (from left of index) points to the first data block and second index entry points to second data block. So while making index range scan or full index scan, optimizer have to switch between blocks and have to revisit the same block more than once because rows are scatter. So the number of times optimizer will make these switches is actually termed as “Clustering factor”.
Figure: Good clustering factor The above image represents "Good CF”. In an event of index range scan, optimizer will not have to jump to next data block as most of the index entries points to same data block. This helps significantly in reducing the cost of your SELECT statements. Clustering factor is stored in data dictionary and can be viewed from dba_indexes (or user_indexes) SQL> create table sac as select * from all_objects; Table created. SQL> create index obj_id_indx on sac(object_id);
Index created. SQL> select clustering_factor from user_indexes where index_name='OBJ_ID_INDX'; CLUSTERING_FACTOR ----------------545 SQL> select count(*) from sac; COUNT(*) ---------38956 SQL> select blocks from user_segments where segment_name='OBJ_ID_INDX'; BLOCKS ---------96 The above example shows that index has to jump 545 times to give you the full data had you performed full table scan using the index. Note: - A good CF is equal (or near) to the values of number of blocks of table. - A bad CF is equal (or near) to the number of rows of table. Myth: - Rebuilding of index can improve the CF. Then how to improve the CF? - To improve the CF, it’s the table that must be rebuilt (and reordered). - If table has multiple indexes, careful consideration needs to be given by which index to order table.
Important point: The above is my interpretation of the subject after reading the book on Optimizer of Jonathan Lewis.