Here's a quick overview of what the book covers:
- Chapter 1, Execution Engine, Introduction to Query Optimization, starts with an overview on how the SQL Server Query Optimizer works, and introduces the concepts that will be covered in more detail in the rest of the book. A look into some of the challenges query optimizers still face today is covered next, along with a section on how to read and understand execution plans. The chapter closes with a discussion of join ordering, traditionally one of the most complex problems in query optimization.
- Chapter 2 talks about the Execution Engine, describing it as a collection of physical operators that perform the functions of the query processor. It emphasizes how these operations, implemented by the Execution Engine, define the choices available to the Query Optimizer when building execution plans. This chapter includes sections on data access operations, the concepts of sorting and hashing, aggregations, and joins, to conclude with a brief introduction to parallelism.
- Chapter 3, Statistics and Cost Estimation, shows how the quality of the execution plans generated by the Query Optimizer is directly related to the accuracy of its cardinality and cost estimations. The chapter describes Statistics objects in detail, and includes some sections on how statistics are created and maintained, as well as how they are used by the Query Optimizer. We'll also take a look at how to detect cardinality estimation errors, which may cause the Query Optimizer to choose inefficient plans, together with some recommendations on how to avoid and fix these problems. Just to round off the subject, the chapter ends with an introduction to cost estimation.
- Chapter 4, Index Selection, shows how SQL Server can speed up your queries and dramatically improve the performance of your applications, just by using the right indexes. The chapter shows how SQL Server selects indexes, how you can provide better indexes, and how you can verify your execution plans to make sure these indexes are correctly used. We'll talk about the Database Engine Tuning Advisor and the Missing Indexes feature, which will show how the Query Optimizer itself can provide you with index tuning recommendations.
- Chapter 5, The Optimization Process, goes right into the internals of the Query Optimizer and introduces the steps that it performs without you ever knowing. This covers everything, from the moment a query is submitted to SQL Server, until an execution plan is generated and ready to be executed, including steps like parsing, binding, simplification, trivial plan, and full optimization. Important components which are part of the Query Optimizer architecture, such as transformation rules and the memo structure, are also introduced.
- Chapter 6, Additional Topics, includes a variety of subjects, starting with the basics of update operations, and how they also need to be optimized just like any other query, so that they can be performed as quickly as possible. We'll have an introduction to Data Warehousing and how SQL Server optimizes star queries, before launching into a detailed explanation of parameter sniffing, along with some recommendations on how to avoid some problems presented by this behavior. Continuing with the topic of parameters, the chapter concludes by discussing auto-parameterization and forced parameterization.
- Chapter 7, hints, and warns that, although hints are a powerful tool which allow you to take explicit control over the execution plan of a query, they need to be used with caution, and only as a last resort when no other option is available. The chapter covers the most used hints, and ends with a couple of sections on plan guides and the USE PLAN query hint.
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