Indexes are optional structures, associated with tables and clusters, which allow SQL queries to execute more quickly. Just as the index in this guide helps you locate information faster than if there were no index, an Oracle Database index provides a faster access path to table data. You can use indexes without rewriting any queries. Your results are the same, but you see them more quickly.
This chapter supplements this information:
The explanation of indexes and index-organized tables in Oracle Database Concepts
The information about managing indexes in Oracle Database Administrator's Guide
The explanation of how indexes and clusters can enhance or degrade performance in Oracle Database SQL Tuning Guide
Here is a summary of the guidelines for managing indexes. For details, see Oracle Database Administrator's Guide:
Create indexes after inserting table data
Index the correct tables and columns
Order index columns for performance
Limit the number of indexes for each table
Drop indexes that are no longer needed
Understand deferred segment creation
Estimate index size and set storage parameters
Specify the tablespace for each index
Consider parallelizing index creation
Consider creating indexes with
Understand when to use unusable or invisible indexes
Consider costs and benefits of coalescing or rebuilding indexes
Consider cost before disabling or dropping constraints
A domain index (also called an application domain index) is a customized index specific to an application that was implemented using a data cartridge (for example, a search engine or geographic information system). For information about domain indexes, see Oracle Database Concepts.
Oracle Database Data Cartridge Developer's Guide for conceptual background to help you decide when to build domain indexes
A function-based index computes the value of an expression that involves one or more columns and stores it in the index. The index expression can be an arithmetic expression or an expression that contains a SQL function, PL/SQL function, package function, or C callout. Function-based indexes also support linguistic sorts based on collation keys, efficient linguistic collation of SQL statements, and case-insensitive sorts.
A function-based index improves the performance of queries that use the index expression (especially if the expression is computationally intensive). However:
The database must also evaluate the index expression to process statements that do not use it.
Function-based indexes on columns that are frequently modified are expensive for the database to maintain.
The optimizer can use function-based indexes only for cost-based optimization, while it can use indexes on columns for both cost-based and rule-based optimization.
A function-based index cannot contain the value
NULL. Therefore, either ensure that no column involved in the index expression can contain
NULL or use the
NVL function in the index expression to substitute another value for
NULL. (For information about
NVL, see Oracle Database SQL Language Reference.)
Oracle Database treats descending indexes as if they were function-based indexes (for more information, see Oracle Database SQL Language Reference).
Oracle Database Concepts for additional conceptual information about function-based indexes
Oracle Database Administrator's Guide for information about creating function-based indexes
Oracle Database Globalization Support Guide for information about function-based linguistic indexes
Oracle Database Concepts for more information about how the optimizer uses function-based indexes
Oracle Database SQL Tuning Guide for information about using function-based indexes for performance
A function-based index has these advantages:
A function-based index increases the number of situations where the database can perform an index range scan (described in Oracle Database Concepts) instead of a full index scan (described in Oracle Database Concepts).
An index range scan typically has a fast response time when the
WHERE clause selects fewer than 15% of the rows of a large table. The optimizer can more accurately estimate how many rows an expression selects if the expression is materialized in a function-based index.
Oracle Database represents the index expression as a virtual column, on which the
ANALYZE statement (described in Oracle Database SQL Language Reference) can build a histogram.
A function-based index precomputes and stores the value of an expression.
Queries can get the value of the expression from the index instead of computing it. The more queries that need the value, and the more computationally intensive the index expression, the more the index improves application performance. (See Example: Function-Based Index for Precomputing Arithmetic Expression.)
You can create a function-based index on an object column or
The index expression can be the invocation of a method that returns an object type. For more information, see Oracle Database Object-Relational Developer's Guide. (See Example: Function-Based Indexes on Object Column and the example in Oracle Database SQL Language Reference.)
A function-based index lets you perform more powerful sorts.
The index expression can invoke the SQL functions
LOWER for case-insensitive sorts (as in Example 11-3) and the SQL function
NLSSORT for linguistic-based sorts (as in Example: Function-Based Index for Language-Dependent Sorting).
A function-based index has these disadvantages:
The optimizer can use a function-based index only for cost-based optimization, not for rule-based optimization.
The cost-based optimizer uses statistics stored in the dictionary. To gather statistics for a function-based index, invoke either
GATHER_TABLE_STATS (described in Oracle Database PL/SQL Packages and Types Reference) or
GATHER_SCHEMA_STATS (described in Oracle Database PL/SQL Packages and Types Reference).
The database does not use a function-based index until you analyze the index itself and the table on which it is defined.
To analyze the index and the table on which the index is defined, invoke either
The database does not use function-based indexes when doing
You must ensure that any schema-level or package-level PL/SQL function that the index expression invokes is deterministic (that is, that the function always return the same result for the same input).
You must declare the function as
DETERMINISTIC, but because Oracle Database does not check this assertion, you must ensure that the function really is deterministic.
If you change the semantics of a
DETERMINISTIC function and recompile it, then you must manually rebuild any dependent function-based indexes and materialized views. Otherwise, they report results for the prior version of the function.
If the index expression is a function invocation, then the function return type cannot be constrained.
Because you cannot constrain the function return type with
NULL, you must ensure that the query that uses the index cannot fetch
NULL values. Otherwise, the database performs a full table scan.
The index expression cannot invoke an aggregate function (described in Oracle Database SQL Language Reference).
A bitmapped function-based index cannot be a descending index (see Oracle Database SQL Language Reference).
The data type of the index expression cannot be
LONGRAW, or a PL/SQL data type of unknown length.
That is, you cannot index an expression of unknown length. However, you can index a known-length substring of that expression. For example:
CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION initials ( name IN VARCHAR2 ) RETURN VARCHAR2 DETERMINISTIC IS BEGIN RETURN('A. J.'); END; / /* Invoke SUBSTR both when creating index and when referencing function in queries. */ CREATE INDEX func_substr_index ON EMPLOYEES(SUBSTR(initials(FIRST_NAME),1,10)); SELECT SUBSTR(initials(FIRST_NAME),1,10) FROM EMPLOYEES;
You can create composite indexes to computer arithmetic expressions.
Example 11-1 creates a table with columns
c; creates an index on the table, and then queries the table. The index is a composite index on three columns: a virtual column that represents the expression
a, and column
b. The query uses the indexed expression in its
WHERE clause; therefore, it can use an index range scan instead of a full index scan.
Example 11-1 Function-Based Index for Precomputing Arithmetic Expression
Create table on which to create index:
DROP TABLE Fbi_tab; CREATE TABLE Fbi_tab ( a INTEGER, b INTEGER, c INTEGER );
CREATE INDEX Idx ON Fbi_tab (a+b*(c-1), a, b);
This query can use an index range scan instead of a full index scan:
SELECT a FROM Fbi_tab WHERE a+b*(c-1) < 100;
Oracle Database Concepts for information about fast full index scans
This example uses composite indexes (indexes on multiple table columns), described in Oracle Database Concepts.
In Example 11-2, assume that the object type
Reg_obj has been defined, and that it stores information about a city. The example creates a table whose first column has type
Reg_obj, a deterministic function with a parameter of type
Reg_obj, and two function-based indexes that invoke the function. The first query uses the first index to quickly find cities further than 1000 miles from the equator. The second query uses the second index (which is composite) to quickly find cities where the temperature delta is less than 20 and the maximum temperature is greater than 75. (The table is not populated for the example, so the queries return no rows.)
Example 11-2 Function-Based Indexes on Object Column
Create table with object column:
DROP TABLE Weatherdata_tab; CREATE TABLE Weatherdata_tab ( Reg_obj INTEGER, Maxtemp INTEGER, Mintemp INTEGER );
Create deterministic function with parameter of type
CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION Distance_from_equator ( Reg_obj IN INTEGER ) RETURN INTEGER DETERMINISTIC IS BEGIN RETURN(3000); END; /
Create first function-based index:
CREATE INDEX Distance_index ON Weatherdata_tab (Distance_from_equator (Reg_obj));
Use index expression in query:
SELECT * FROM Weatherdata_tab WHERE (Distance_from_equator (Reg_Obj)) > '1000';
no rows selected
Create second function-based (and composite) index:
CREATE INDEX Compare_index ON Weatherdata_tab ((Maxtemp - Mintemp) DESC, Maxtemp);
Use index expression and indexed column in query:
SELECT * FROM Weatherdata_tab WHERE ((Maxtemp - Mintemp) < '20' AND Maxtemp > '75');
no rows selected
Example 11-3 creates an index that allows faster case-insensitive searches in the
EMPLOYEES table and then uses the index expression in a query.
Example 11-3 Function-Based Index for Faster Case-Insensitive Searches
CREATE INDEX emp_lastname ON EMPLOYEES (UPPER(LAST_NAME));
Use index expression in query:
SELECT first_name, last_name FROM EMPLOYEES WHERE UPPER(LAST_NAME) LIKE 'J%S_N';
FIRST_NAME LAST_NAME -------------------- ------------------------- Charles Johnson 1 row selected.
You can use the
NLSSORT API for language-dependent sorting.
Example 11-4 creates a table with one column,
NAME, and a function-based index to sort that column using the collation sequence
GERMAN, and then selects all columns of the table, ordering them by
NAME. Because the query can use the index, the query is faster. (Assume that the query is run in a German session, where
ANSI. Otherwise, the query would have to specify the values of these Globalization Support parameters.)
Example 11-4 Function-Based Index for Language-Dependent Sorting
Create table on which to create index:
DROP TABLE nls_tab; CREATE TABLE nls_tab (NAME VARCHAR2(80));
CREATE INDEX nls_index ON nls_tab (NLSSORT(NAME, 'NLS_SORT = GERMAN'));
Select all table columns, ordered by
SELECT * FROM nls_tab WHERE NAME IS NOT NULL ORDER BY NAME;