RE: Performance off "count(*)"

From: Marco Gralike <>
Date: Fri, 18 Jul 2008 20:57:36 +0200
Message-ID: <3FA1E6332C73EB4391F729E4EDB7CED9AD5DD0@amisnt30.AMIS.local>

OK, Rub it in, Yeah I am Old !  


Nope, Niall I wasn't referring to the "count(1)" myth.  

Let's rephrase the question.  

Given that all statistics are in order and up to dat and given the basics Jonathan pointed out and given there is and index ( and not containing a NULL value in its column), then while doing a "select count(*) on "tab", it should use the index or not...?  

I am on 11gR1
The "table" is 40 Gb big and contains roundabout 7 million records  

(Yep, the stupid, not so relational, XML stuff ;-)          

Van: Niall Litchfield [] Verzonden: vr 18-7-2008 20:29
Aan: Marco Gralike
CC:; Onderwerp: Re: Performance off "count(*)"

I suspect that what you are remembering is a rebuttal of an old myth (well it *might* have been true once, but I doubt it) that using select count(1) from <tab>;
was more efficient than
select count(*) from <tab>;
in determining rowcounts. This hasn't been true, if it ever was, for at least a decade. For normal tables there's no difference - obviously those who indulge in a bit of xml may experience odd results :)  


On Fri, Jul 18, 2008 at 6:28 PM, Marco Gralike <> wrote:

	Am I correct in my "small understanding" of Oracle that "count(*)" has
	been optimized.
	I think I once heard or read this from Tom Kyte, but then again I am
	also becoming old and could be mistaken (hearing not good and all)
	The "issue" for me is that if "count(*)" is optimized, then I have found
	a small feature that the XMLDB Development Team can use in its

-----Original Message-----
From: Jonathan Lewis [] Sent: vrijdag 18 juli 2008 16:20 To: Subject: Re: Performance off "count(*)" In principle the optimizer knows that count(*) means "how many rows in the table" and will choose the smallest object that could return the result to do the scan. This means it may choose to do a fast-full scan of an index if at least one column of the index is declared as not null. Depending on version, the choice between indexes of identical cost may simply be based on alphabetical ordering of the names - although number of distinct keys is supposed to have an effect as well in recent versions Regards Jonathan Lewis <> Author: Cost Based Oracle: Fundamentals The Co-operative Oracle Users' FAQ
----- Original Message -----
From: "Marco Gralike" <> To: "Gints Plivna" <> Cc: <> Sent: Friday, July 18, 2008 2:11 PM Subject: RE: Performance off "count(*)" That's not really what I ment. While using "count(*)", Oracle will performance optimize (as far as I know) the "count(*)" so it will do a smarter job then "only" a full table scan. I am interested in the how and what regarding the mechanics / methods behind it. In my "not so relational XMLDB" environment, I see a full table scan were I would have hoped for the smarter way to go for an index. The count via the index will last for 3 minutes. The count via the full table scan will take more than 1 day (17 Gb of XML data, approx. 7 milion records). I have an small example of this smarter behavior below (I thought it was somehow hardcoded): Also see the differences (I have to force it to go via the PK unique index via a hint)
Niall Litchfield
Oracle DBA <>  

Received on Fri Jul 18 2008 - 13:57:36 CDT

Original text of this message