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SQL Anywhere 10.0.1 » SQL Anywhere Server - SQL Usage » Query Optimization and Execution » Semantic query transformations » Types of semantic transformations

Optimization of LIKE predicates Next Page

Conversion of outer joins to inner joins

The optimizer generates a left-deep processing tree for its access plans. The only exception to this rule is the existence of a right-deep nested outer join expression. The query execution engine's algorithms for computing LEFT or RIGHT OUTER JOINs require that preserved tables must precede null-supplying tables in any join strategy. Consequently, the optimizer looks for opportunities to convert LEFT or RIGHT outer joins to inner joins whenever possible, since inner joins are commutable and give the optimizer greater degrees of freedom when performing join enumeration.

A LEFT or RIGHT OUTER JOIN can be converted to an inner join when a null-intolerant predicate on the null-supplying table is present in the query's WHERE clause. Since this predicate is null-intolerant, any all-NULL row that would be produced by the outer join is eliminated from the result, making the query semantically equivalent to an inner join.


For example, consider the query that is intended to list all products and their orders for larger quantities; the LEFT OUTER JOIN is intended to ensure that all products are listed, even if they have no orders:

FROM Products p KEY LEFT OUTER JOIN SalesOrderItems s
WHERE s.Quantity > 15;

The problem with this query is that the predicate in the WHERE clause eliminates any product with no orders from the result because the predicate s.Quantity > 15 is interpreted as FALSE if s.Quantity is NULL. Hence the query is semantically equivalent to:

FROM Products p KEY JOIN SalesOrderItems s
WHERE s.Quantity > 15;

This rewritten form is the query that the database server optimizes.

In this example, the query is almost certainly written incorrectly; it should instead be:

FROM Products p
    KEY LEFT OUTER JOIN SalesOrderItems s
          ON s.Quantity > 15;

In this way, the test of Quantity is part of the outer join condition. You can demonstrate the difference in the two queries by inserting some new products into the Products table for which there are no orders and then executing the queries again.

SELECT ID + 10, Name, Description,
        'Extra large', Color, 50, UnitPrice, Photo
FROM Products
WHERE Name = 'Tee Shirt';

While it is rare for this optimization to apply to straightforward outer join queries, it can often apply when a query refers to one or more views that are written using outer joins. The query's WHERE clause may include conditions that restrict the output of the view such that all null-supplying rows from one or more table expressions would be eliminated, hence making this optimization applicable.