Problem with Oracle link variables that do not use the index correctly

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In my scenario, the following query runs fast (0.5 seconds on a table with 70 million rows):

select * from Purchases
where (purchase_id = 1700656396)

and, it even runs fast using bind variables:

var purchase_id number := 1700656396
select * from Purchases
where (purchase_id = :purchase_id)

These run fast because I have an index on the purchase_id column. (Keep reading...)

I need to create a query that allows "filtering" on arbitrary columns. This means providing several input variables, and filtering on each one unless it is null. This works fine at first.

For example, the following query runs fast (0.5 seconds), too:

select * from Purchases
where (1700656396 IS NULL OR purchase_id    = 1700656396)
and   (NULL       IS NULL OR purchase_name  = NULL)
and   (NULL       IS NULL OR purchase_price = NULL)

But, when I attempt to parameterize the query, either by bind variables or stored procedure, the query slows down dramatically (1.5 minutes), as if it is ignoring any indexes:

var purchase_id    number   := 1700656396
var purchase_name  varchar2 := NULL
var purchase_price number   := NULL
select * from Purchases
where (:purchase_id    IS NULL OR purchase_id    = :purchase_id)
and   (:purchase_name  IS NULL OR purchase_name  = :purchase_name)
and   (:purchase_price IS NULL OR purchase_price = :purchase_price)

Right now, in my application, I am forced to dynamically construct my query at run-time in order to get decent performance. This means I lose all the advantages of parameterized queries, and forces me to worry about SQL injection.

Is it possible to avoid dynamically-constructed queries while still maintaining the same logic?


This is a bigger topic really, but this is the approach that I think is easiest to implement and works well. The trick is to use dynamic SQL, but implement it so that you always pass the same number of parameters (needed), AND you allow Oracle to short-circuit when you don't have a value for a parameter (what you are lacking in your current approach). For example:

set serveroutput on
create or replace procedure test_param(p1 in number default null, p2 in varchar2 default null) as
  l_sql varchar2(4000);
  l_cur sys_refcursor;
  l_rec my_table%rowtype;
  l_ctr number := 0;
begin

  l_sql := 'select * from my_table where 1=1';
  if (p1 is not null) then
    l_sql := l_sql || ' and my_num_col = :p1';
  else
    -- short circuit for optimizer (1=1)
    l_sql := l_sql || ' and (1=1 or :p1 is null)';
  end if;

  if (p2 is not null) then
    l_sql := l_sql || ' and name like :p2';
  else
    -- short circuit for optimizer (1=1)
    l_sql := l_sql || ' and (1=1 or :p2 is null)';
  end if;

  -- show what the SQL query will be
  dbms_output.put_line(l_sql);

  -- note always have same param list (using)
  open l_cur for l_sql using p1,p2;

  -- could return this cursor (function), or simply print out first 10 rows here for testing
  loop
    l_ctr := l_ctr + 1;
    fetch l_cur
    into l_rec;
    exit when l_cur%notfound OR l_ctr > 10;

    dbms_output.put_line('Name is: ' || l_rec.name || ', Address is: ' || l_rec.address1);
  end loop;
  close l_cur;
end;

To test, simply run it. For example:

set serveroutput on
-- using 0 param
exec test_param();
-- using 1 param
exec test_param(123456789);
-- using 2 params
exec test_param(123456789, 'ABC%');

On my system, the table used is over 100mm rows with an index on the number field and name field. Returns almost instantly. Also note that you may not want to do a select * if you don't need all columns, but I'm being a bit lazy and using %rowtype for this example.

Hope that helps