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Thursday, September 06, 2018

How Not to Collect Optimizer Statistics in an Application Engine Program

I was told about a PeopleSoft customer experiencing an Oracle error when collecting statistics during an Application Engine.
ORA-06533: Subscript beyond count 
ORA-06512: at "SYS.DBMS_STATS"…
It is possibly a manifestation of a database bug. The workaround was not to use AUTO_SAMPLE_SIZE, so instead, this customer initially coded an explicit call to DBMS_STATS.GATHER_TABLE_STATS with a specific sample size.
This blog is not about the bug, but how to manage the workaround.

DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!


I think that there are a number of problems with this approach
  1. Using a fixed sample size rather than AUTO_SAMPLE_SIZE should only be considered as a temporary workaround. The new hash-based number-of-distinct-values (NDV) algorithm in Oracle 12c only works with AUTO_SAMPLE_SIZE, and it produces more accurate statistics and runs faster because saves a large sort operation. Coding a fixed sample size into an Application Engine requires a managed change to be made, tested and released into production, and then when the underlying problem is resolved the customisation needs to be removed by the same managed process. 
  2. DBMS_STATS.GATHER_TABLE_STATS implies a commit. That can lead to problems that PeopleSoft avoids by only calling statistics via the %UpdateStats macro and controlling when that macro does and does not execute. 

Committing and Restart Checkpointing in Application Engine

If a restartable Application Engine program fails it rolls back to the last commit point and it can then be restarted from that point. Committing is managed by Application Engine at section and step levels where the program state record is updated accordingly. If an error occurs in a step after the implicit commit in DBMS_STATS, it can result in the data in the application tables being different to where the state record indicates the program can be restarted. The program may not restart, or it could conceivably execute but produce erroneous results.
Committing inside a do while loop, including any other Application Engine program called from inside the loop is suppressed at Application Engine section/step level and therefore the execution of %UpdateStats macro is also suppressed. Otherwise, you could get rogue ORA-01555 Snapshot Too Old errors. Suppression of %UpdateStats is reported in the Application Engine step trace.
-- 19:07:37.199 .(AEMINITEST.MAIN.LOOP) (Do Select)
%Select(recname) SELECT recname FROM psrecdefn WHERE recname = 'JOB'
/
-- Buffers:
--   1) JOB
-- 19:07:37.204 Iteration 1 of .(AEMINITEST.MAIN.LOOP) (Do Select) loop

-- 19:07:37.208 .(AEMINITEST.MAIN.LOOP) (SQL)
RECSTATS PS_JOB LOW
/
-- 19:07:37.211 UpdateStats ignored - COMMIT required

-- 19:07:37.212 .(AEMINITEST.MAIN.LOOP) (Do Fetch)
Even a previously uncommitted SQL step can lead to %UpdateStats being suppressed.
-- 19:07:35.205 .(AEMINITEST.MAIN.Step01) (SQL)
UPDATE PS_AETEMPTBLMGR SET AE_DEDICATED = 1 WHERE 0 = 1
/
-- Row(s) affected: 0

-- 19:07:35.213 .(AEMINITEST.MAIN.Step02) (PeopleCode)

-- 19:07:35.220 .(AEMINITEST.MAIN.US1) (SQL)
RECSTATS PS_JOB LOW
/
-- 19:07:35.227 UpdateStats ignored - COMMIT required
If you code DBMS_STATS.GATHER_TABLE_STATS explicitly, Application Engine will not recognise the step as having committed. In the following example, you can see the %UpdateStats on the last step has been suppressed because it Application Engine does not recognise that the update in the first step has been committed by the call to DBMS_STATS.
-- 19:12:06.690 .(AEMINITEST.MAIN.Step01) (SQL)
UPDATE PS_AETEMPTBLMGR SET AE_DEDICATED = 1 WHERE 0 = 1
/
-- Row(s) affected: 0
-- 19:12:06.696 .(AEMINITEST.MAIN.Step02) (PeopleCode)
-- 19:12:06.700 .(AEMINITEST.MAIN.GTS) (SQL)
%Execute(/) BEGIN 
dbms_stats.gather_table_stats('SYSADM','PS_JOB',estimate_percent=>1); END; /
/
-- Row(s) affected: 1

-- 19:12:09.871 .(AEMINITEST.MAIN.US1) (SQL)
RECSTATS PS_JOB LOW
/
-- 19:12:09.877 UpdateStats ignored - COMMIT required
/
Perhaps, the safest form of this workaround would be to have the step with DBMS_STATS and the immediately preceding step explicitly commit as in the following example.  I have also made the program restartable.  Now restart data is checkpointed, and the %UpdateStats macro executes at step US1.
Restart Data CheckPointed
/
COMMIT
/

-- 19:20:24.792 .(AEMINITEST.MAIN.GTS) (SQL)
%Execute(/) BEGIN 
dbms_stats.gather_table_stats('SYSADM','PS_JOB',estimate_percent=>1); END; /
/
-- Row(s) affected: 1
/ 
/
Restart Data CheckPointed
/
COMMIT
/

-- 19:20:29.153 .(AEMINITEST.MAIN.US1) (SQL)
RECSTATS PS_JOB LOW
/
-- Row(s) affected: 1
/
However, you have to consider the state the application data after an error, whether you wish to restart or cancel the Application Engine because you can no longer rollback.

Doing the Right Thing

I recommend that:
  • You should only ever collect stats in Application Engine with the %UpdateStats macro that in turn executes the command in the DDL model.
  • From Oracle 11g both PeopleSoft statistics gathering DDL models should be the same and should ultimately call DBMS_STATS without any parameters other than the table name. The default value of ESTIMATE_PERCENT is AUTO_SAMPLE_SIZE.
There are two DDL models in PeopleSoft because %UpdateStats can be invoked with a second parameter to collect the statistics HIGH or LOW. This dates back to Oracle's ANALYZE command that could either compute or estimate statistics (and other database platforms had similar options). Collecting optimizer statistics with ANALYZE has been deprecated for many years, but the command still has other valid uses.  It was superceded by DBMS_STATS in Oracle 8i (released in 1998).
Automatic sample size was introduced in Oracle 9i.  In Oracle 9i and 10g, it was usual to use automatic sample size in the high statistics gathering model and a small fixed sample size in the low model for use on very large tables.  The LOW parameter was specified on %Updatestats in Application Engine programs as necessary.
This approach became redundant from Oracle 11g with the introduction of table preferences. If you need to collect statistics with a specific rather than the automatic sample size or specify any other parameters, then a table preference should be created. Preferences apply wherever statistics are gathered on that table and not overridden in the call of DBMS_STATS., including schema and database-wide operations such as the maintenance window.  If there are multiple places where statistics are collected on a table, a preference assures that the statistics will always be collected will be consistently.
From Oracle 12c, as the new NDV algorithm only works with AUTO_SAMPLE_SIZE, you should always use the default unless you have an overarching reason to the contrary, and then you should use a table preference. This approach does not require any application code change because the preference is an attribute of a table in the database.
I recommend using GFCPSSTATS package, calling it from the DDL model (see previous blog Managing Cost-Based Optimizer Statistics for PeopleSoft). The package also includes a mechanism to specify table preferences in metadata, so that they are automatically instantiated when a table is created or altered by Application Designer, and are applied to every instance of a temporary record.
gfcpsstats11.ps_stats(p_ownname=>[DBNAME], p_tabname=>[TBNAME]);
Alternatively, just call DBMS_STATS with no additional parameters (other than FORCE, in case you lock statistics on temporary tables) but then you must manage table preferences manually.
DBMS_STATS.GATHER_TABLE_STATS(ownname=>[DBNAME], tabname=>[TBNAME], force=>TRUE);

Further Reading

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