Incorrect estimation cardinality estimator

Since 2014 version of SQL server, there were implemented new approarches to help query optimizer  better understand your SQL query and data estimation, for example correlation in predicates on the same table, correlation in predicates between tables, that outdated statistics can have newer data, etc…

More info can be found here:

Motivation to write this article was that there could be situations the cardinality estimator could make things worse. I am experienced in one of my projects that query stopped to finish in expected time after upgrading SQL server to higher version (from 2008 to 2016). I prepared simple example simulating that situation:

Let’s create table dbo . WrongEstimationTable, which have multiple relationships with another one table dbo.SameTable. I left dbo.WrongEstimationTable
empty, that there will be no rows in result set. So we would expect that execution plan estimates that no rows will be returned.

CREATE TABLE dbo.WrongEstimationTable(id1 BIGINT, id2 BIGINT,id3 BIGINT,id4 BIGINT,id5 BIGINT)

Fill dbo.SameTable with some testing data.

CREATE TABLE dbo.SameTable (id BIGINT,identityid INT IDENTITY(1,1),typeid INT)
INSERT INTO dbo.SameTable(id,typeid) SELECT object_id,1 FROM sys.objects
INSERT INTO dbo.SameTable(id,typeid) SELECT object_id,2 FROM sys.objects

Create indexes to help the query to get the data as fast as possible. 

CREATE CLUSTERED INDEX CX_identityid  ON  dbo.SameTable(identityid )
CREATE UNIQUE  NONCLUSTERED INDEX    CX_id  ON  dbo.SameTable(typeid,id  ) INCLUDE (identityid)

Run the query bellow where dbo.SameTable correlates with dbo.WrongEstimationTable using typeid predicate. Show actual execution plan on older version of SQL server or switch off Cardinality estimator if you use new version of SQL server, query bellow.

         dbo.WrongEstimationTable t 
JOIN     dbo.SameTable s1 ON AND s1.typeid=1
JOIN     dbo.SameTable s2 ON AND s2.typeid=1
JOIN     dbo.SameTable s3 ON AND s3.typeid=1
JOIN     dbo.SameTable s4 ON AND s4.typeid=1
JOIN     dbo.SameTable s5 ON AND s5.typeid=1

See that optimizer estimates that on the second one table there are no data, so the number of rows and executions are very low – one, as expected.

Execution plan - old optimizer
Picture01 – Execution plan – old optimizer
Execution plan - old optimizer
Picture 02 – Execution plan – old optimizer

Running the same query on SQL server 2016 or earlier builds of SQL Server 2017 leads to very strange execution plan were optimizer expect increasing estimated number of rows in each branch of nested loop to 1024 estimated rows. As you can see on picture bellow. In production it could cause your query to prolong its execution time rapidly.

Execution plan - old optimizer
03 Execution plan – old optimizer
Execution plan - newer optimizer
Picture 04 – Execution plan – newer optimizer

As solution you can:

  1. Rewrite the query
  2. Use the old version of Query Optimizer – it comes with Cumulative update 10 for SQL server 2017
  3. Use the database compatibility level for 2008 (100)
  4. Switch off Cardinality Estimator use the old functionality of optimizer for Cardinality estimation
  5. Whatever I forgot


SELECT id,identityid INTO #tmp FROM dbo.SameTable WHERE typeid=1
CREATE CLUSTERED INDEX CX_identityid ON #tmp(id) 
  FROM dbo.WrongEstimationTable t
  JOIN #tmp s1 ON
  JOIN #tmp s2 ON
  JOIN #tmp s3 ON
  JOIN #tmp s4 ON
  JOIN #tmp s5 ON


FROM dbo.WrongEstimationTable t
JOIN dbo.SameTable s1 ON AND s1.typeid=1
JOIN dbo.SameTable s2 ON AND s2.typeid=1
JOIN dbo.SameTable s3 ON AND s3.typeid=1
JOIN dbo.SameTable s4 ON AND s4.typeid=1
JOIN dbo.SameTable s5 ON AND s5.typeid=1



FROM dbo.WrongEstimationTable t
JOIN dbo.SameTable s1 ON AND s1.typeid=1
JOIN dbo.SameTable s2 ON AND s2.typeid=1
JOIN dbo.SameTable s3 ON AND s3.typeid=1
JOIN dbo.SameTable s4 ON AND s4.typeid=1
JOIN dbo.SameTable s5 ON AND s5.typeid=1

I was not able to simulate above described situation on SQL server 2017 with cumulative update 10,, seems the issue was resolved.

When migrating or upgrading your current version of SQL Server to higher version you should check description of new features  or cumulative updates on MSDN. And you should be prepared on scenarios that things could be worse after your updates.

Transaction log – multi-statement table valued function

Someday I got interesting question in my job. Does SELECT query from multi-statement table valued function have impact on transaction log?

Because of result-set, there is a table variable declaration in multi-statement table valued function, we could expect the same behavior as described in post.

It would be interesting to make some tests, because I didn’t think about that simple select from function could affect transaction log of tempdb database. Results were surprising for me, follow reading this post, if you are insterested in. Just to remind, run bellow published scripts on testing environment only. I am using local installation of SQL on my laptop.

I would use similar approach as in post, In short.

  1. Clean up tempdb transaction log, and set the size of the log to the minimum
  2. Create multivalued function and select data from it
  3. Run simple select from the function
  4. In another query window run undocumented function sys.fn_dblog to get data from transaction log
  5. In another query window run allocation unit query extended to locking info (I will explain later)
  6. Check how tempdb transaction log file grew up

Firstly, set tempdb transaction log at the minimum size, to see if there is an impact on the transaction log. And call CHECKPOINT operation to clean-up transaction log. With the query bellow check list of allocation units with allocated pages in tempdb.

select request_type, request_mode,sa.total_pages,, so.object_id, sp.index_id, sp.partition_id, sp.hobt_id, sa.allocation_unit_id, sa.type_desc
, l.*
FROM sys.objects so
JOIN sys.partitions sp on so.object_id = sp.object_id
JOIN sys.allocation_units sa on sa.container_id = sp.hobt_id
LEFT JOIN sys.dm_tran_locks l ON so.object_id =l.resource_associated_entity_id
WHERE total_pages >0

In my environment the query did not return any temporary tables with allocated pages.  So we can start test.

Run script bellow to create testing function.

CREATE FUNCTION [dbo].[fn_GetData]()
@TableTest TABLE (id INT, testdata INT
SELECT a.object_id
     , a.object_id
FROM sys.objects a
JOIN sys.objects b ON 1=1
JOIN sys.objects c ON 1=1
JOIN sys.objects d ON 1=1
JOIN sys.objects e ON 1=1

Query to get data from created function.

SELECT * FROM dbo.fn_GetData() ;

In another SQL query window run query returning allocation units, listed above. After querying allocation units from tempdb we can see that there is  temporary table with allocated pages. Run query few times to see that count of allocated pages is increasing. See picture bellow.

Allocation units
Picture 01 Allocation units

Lets check tempdb transaction log file size. We can see that it was increased rapidly.

Transaction log file size
Picture 02 Transaction log file size

It is interesting that even when using simple SELECT from multi-statement table valued function, the tempdb transaction log can be affected. The Table variable declared for result-set inside the function is physically placed in tempdb. It is very similar behavior as in the post.

From sys.fn_dblog function we can see operations on Allocation unit (temporary table) we got from queries above.

Transaction log
Picture03 Transaction log

This time I had problem with DBCC PAGE to check inserted data. I was not able to access data as in post. That was reason why I extended script querying allocation units to locking info, where you can see that temporary table has exclusive lock, so other processes cannot read data from it. In my previous post where I tested impact of  Table variable on transaction log, there was BU (bulk load) lock mode set, so I was able to access data from sys.fn_dblog function.

Conclusion. Not only Table variable could impact transaction log, but multi-statement table valued function can affect it too. It is very interesting, and here raises another reason why you should be careful using these SQL features with respect to query performance. Both object types are physically created in tempdb database, not in memory. I found one difference between the table valued function and Table variable and it is lock escalation on these objects. While in case of Table variable, there was created temporary table in tempdb database with BU request mode, temporary table created by querying the multi-statement function was locked by X (exclusive lock). There would be probably more differrencies but maybe next time, and in another post.