Seek and ye shall find

When I was thinking up names for this blog, I had a hard time not using the name my husband uses for his fantasy baseball team: The Stellato Heels.  It’s great, isn’t it?  I can boast about how fabulous it is because I didn’t think of it.  I had great visions for the logo.  Just imagine a glamorous high heel with some sparklies and a splash of color.  Unfortunately, I’m not one for heels (or sparklies if we’re being honest).  Don’t get me wrong, I like shoes.  I have a lot of pairs, but I don’t wear heels unless I’m pretty dressed up, and that only happens about twice a year.  So, as much as I loved the name, it didn’t really represent me.

The name I chose in the end, The SQL Sequel, I loved for two reasons.  First, I love movies.  When I was a kid we had one of the first VCRs in the neighborhood, and my dad used to record movies on tape (usually three on a tape) that he numbered and labeled.  Then he had this flip-top address book that listed each movie on the appropriate letter page, along with the tape number.  The tapes were stored on shelves in alphabetical order.  I now realize these were my first clustered and non-clustered indexes.

The second reason the blog title is very “me” is because I am never done with what I learn.  There is always another detail to learn for any concept.  I knew it wouldn’t take a long for a sequel blog post to come up, and I was right; this one’s the first.

In September’s TSQL Tuesday post  I blogged about a non-sargable where clause, which forced a full index scan.  My solution was to create a new computed column with the function, along with a non-clustered index, and use that.  I wasn’t thrilled with that solution because I thought I then had to change my query to use the computed column in my where clause.

I was wrong.

If you read through the comments of that post, you’ll see the great exchange I had with Rob Farley ( blog | Twitter ) and Paul White ( blog | Twitter ).  Paul is my new favorite Kiwi (why was I not following him on Twitter?) and he also did a quick review of this post for me (thank you Paul!).  In my initial testing, after I created my computed column and its index, I re-ran the last query:
{code}SELECT LastName
FROM Person.Contact
WHERE RTRIM(LastName) LIKE ‘Smith%'{/code}

And it did a full scan on the IX_LastName index:







I didn’t test my original query, because I thought I knew what it would do.  But Paul pointed out that if I ran my original query:
{code}SELECT FirstName, LastName, EmailAddress
FROM Person.Contact
WHERE RTRIM(LastName) LIKE ‘Smith%’;{/code}

it actually used the IX_LastName_Computed index:







Those peeps that write the Optimizer code know what they’re doing.  Even though I’m querying LastName in the where clause, the Optimizer knows the information I really need (because of the RTRIM) is in the IX_LastName_Computed index, and it seeks it.  So why did my query with only LastName as the selected column use IX_LastName?  It’s all about I/O.

The original query (all three columns selected) is 228 reads. The modified query (LastName only) takes only 57 reads; it’s doing the full scan because it’s fewer reads than the seek. If I try to force the first query with the regular index:
{code}SELECT FirstName, LastName, EmailAddress
FROM Person.Contact WITH (INDEX(IX_LastName))
WHERE RTRIM(LastName) LIKE ‘Smith%’;{/code}







It’s 282 reads.  To quote Paul,

“…what you’re seeing is normal cost-based optimization. With both IX_LastName and IX_LastName_Computed available, the costing model produces a lower cost for the scan of IX_LastName, because it avoids a key lookup.”

And as Paul also pointed out to me, this query:
{code}SELECT LastName_Computed
FROM Person.Contact
WHERE RTRIM(LastName) LIKE ‘Smith%’;{/code}

will also use the IX_LastName_Computed index:







Aside from learning more about the optimizer, the biggest thing that I took away from this is to try every permutation, even if you think you know what’s going to happen.  I think you learn more when what you’re expecting doesn’t happen.

A huge thank you to Paul and Rob for their help in producing the first true SQL Sequel on my blog!  I love that I am learning something new all the time.  I am constantly reminded of how much I don’t know.  Some days it frustrates me, other days I remember that it’s just life, and it’s about the journey, not the destination.

5 Responses to Seek and ye shall find
  1. Brad Schulz
    September 29, 2010 | 1:56 pm

    Hi Erin…

    I like the title of your blog, and I especially like the logo.

    Your story about your Dad’s video collection reminded me of something in my past as well.

    When I was about 14, we moved to a new house, and I volunteered to catalog my Dad’s library of books (not realizing that he had dozens of boxes of extra books stored away in the garage that I hadn’t even known about).

    I painstakingly typed up a card catalog for hundreds of books, putting the catalog in Title order and shelving the books in (Author,Title) order.

    Like you, that was my first hands-on experience with CIX’s and NCIX’s. Could it have influenced my direction in life?

    Who’s to say?


    P.S.: Stellato Heels… LOL

  2. Erin Stellato
    September 30, 2010 | 2:22 am


    That is a GREAT story! I used to love the card catalog at school, it was so organized, so predictable. You may be on to something with the influence it had in our lives 🙂

    Thank you for your feedback and your comments. The first time my husband said Stellato Heels I laughed out loud, it kills me. It’s just too bad I don’t wear Manolos every day!


  3. Kendra Little
    September 30, 2010 | 4:54 pm

    This is such an awesome post.

    I love that you learned even more from your TSQL Tuesday post than you thought you did. There’s a lot of great stuff in both posts. Seems to me this is what it’s all about.

  4. Erin Stellato
    September 30, 2010 | 8:20 pm


    I completely agree, the extra bit I learn from every experience is exactly what it’s all about. It never ends. Kind of overwhelming and exhilarating at the same time!


  5. Paul White
    December 21, 2010 | 3:40 pm

    Fantastic SQL Sequel, Erin. I agree with Kendra – this is a great example of why blogging is so rewarding. Loving your work.


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