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Re: new sql tuning book

From: Michael Thomas <>
Date: Fri, 6 Feb 2004 16:17:48 -0800 (PST)
Message-ID: <>

I read it cover-to-cover, and its great. It covers many database types, not just Oracle.

Replaces 'trial-and-error' approach with ... well lets call it a trial (e.g. hard) ... a manual approach to tuning SQL. The method it teaches is a very manual procedure for analyzing and tuning SQL. Its nothing like any other book I've read.

I'm undecided how to recommend it. So, here are some plus and minus points in my opinion:


  1. Cool tricks I've never seen before to drive SQL paths. I'm talking 'way-beyond' concat null or +0.
  2. Manual techniques to analyze and derive an 'optimal' and 'robust' SQL access plan. After you learn these techniques you should know if CBO is helping or not.
  3. Diagramming techniques for SQL that are wonderful. And, mathematical techniques which go deep into selecting a robust SQL plan.
  4. Discussion supports almost any SQL database, and especially good with general purpose databases.
  5. Good descriptions that eliminate misunderstanding of SQL syntax and side-effects on tuning SQL.


  1. Does not emphasize how to work with Oracle's CBO. Following the 80/20 rule, if you accept CBO and statistics as good on 80% of SQL, then what do you do with the 20% problem cases? Options might include a) figure out how to tell/hint the CBO to succeed, b) try to manually force the SQL plan, or c) try something else e.g. partitions, parallel, analytical fns, stored outlines, 10g new stuff, etc.. Hmmmm?
  2. Heavy focus on nested loops with few and complicated exceptions for anything else. I think (guess) if you are doing a data warehouse the techniques might not help.
  3. Does not discuss Oracle's nor the others (MS SQL Server and DB2/2) analytical functions. Personally, we've used these to improve our report SQL a lot.
  4. Technique based on row counts, and I'm told it would be better with block counts. I have not tested yet, but I'll let you know after OP101.

The reason I think the book is great is because I want to know how close I'm getting on 'problem' SQL, and when I need to try something else. Some of Tow's techniques are not discussed anywhere else. The diagramming and mathematical techniques are gold. The analysis and tuning methods work on MySQL databases.

In light of recent thread discussions, Tow's book is not an arsenal of weapons to fight the Orale SQL tuning war. Rather, its more like GPS and a sniper rifle (please don't put this on your cube wall).


Mike Thomas

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Received on Fri Feb 06 2004 - 18:17:48 CST

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