Oracle Indexing

Indexing is one of the most frequent approaches when resolving query performance issues raised within a database (though not necessary the right approach, but we can pick this up later).

However, in order to better use indexing strategies, we should go trough the process on understanding index types and their functionality.

First of all, please keep in mind that an index is logically and physically independent of the data they represent. This implies that modifying the index will not affect the data consistency within the table the index is associated with.

It can be created on one or more columns of a table to enable queries to retrieve a small set of randomly distributed rows while reducing the cost of that operation, by reducing the IO associated with the alternative full table scan.

The general considerations for creating an index would be

  • Unique indexes for candidate unique/pk columns, to enable naming the index when creating the associate constraint on the table;
  • a referential constraint column
  • columns used in frequent queries with high selectivity (columns on which the filters applied would enable the return of a small percentage of the rows in the table).

! Note: Primary and unique keys automatically have indexes, but you might want to create an index on a foreign key.

Indexes are automatically maintained by the database with no additional action required by the user. This however, does not imply that an index comes without costs. Always, indexes will improve query performance, but decrease performance on data manipulations. That is due to the fact that any insert/update/delete will have to maintain both objects: the table the DML is submitted on as well as the index update.

 

When testing an indexing strategy, a developer can take advantage of the following properties of the indexes:

  • usability
  • visibility

Usability: Indexes are by default usable. An unusable index will both not be maintained by the DML operations, nor will it be used by the optimizer. This property can help improve performance on bulk loads. Instead of dropping and recreating the index, we can easily make it unusable and then rebuild.

! Note: Unusable indexes and index partitions do not consume space. When you make a usable index unusable, the database drops its index segment.

Syntax:

to set an index to unused:

alter index test_idx unusable;

unusable

to rebuild index:

alter index test_idx rebuild;

valid after rebuild

Visibility: Indexes are by default visible. An invisible index will still be maintained by DML operations but will not be used by the optimizer. Invisible indexes are especially useful for testing the removal of an index before dropping it or using indexes temporarily without affecting the overall application.

alter index test_idx invisible;

invisible

alter index test_idx visible;

to restore the index.

Index types (based on column number):

  • single key index
  • composite index

Index types (based on data content):

  • unique
  • nonunique

Nonunique indexes permit duplicates values in the indexed column or columns. For a nonunique index, the rowid is included in the key in sorted order, so nonunique indexes are sorted by the index key and rowid (ascending).

!Note: Oracle Database does not index table rows in which all key columns are null, except for bitmap indexes or when the cluster key column value is null.

Index types (based on structure of the index):

  • B-tree (balanced tree index) (standard type)
    • Index Organized Table (IOT)
    • Reverse key index
    • Descending index
    • B-tree cluster index
  • bitmap and bitmap join index
  • function based index

 

B-tree:

  • excellent for PK and highly-selective indexing
  • data retrieved sorted by the indexed columns

By associating a key with a row or range of rows, B-trees provide excellent retrieval performance for a wide range of queries, including exact match and range searches.

IOT – this table differs from classical (heap-organized) table by the fact the data is in the index itself.

For more details on IOTs, please see related article here.

B-tree cluster indexes – is used to index a table cluster key. Instead of pointing to a row, the key points to the block that contains rows related to the cluster key.

In a bitmap index, an index entry uses a bitmap to point to multiple rows. In contrast, a B-tree index entry points to a single row. A bitmap join index is a bitmap index for the join of two or more tables.

More on bitmap indexes here.

Function based index: This type of index includes columns that are either transformed by a function, such as the UPPER function, or included in an expression. B-tree or bitmap indexes can be function-based. Example of function base b-tree here.

Oracle Index Organized Table(IOT)

What is an IOT?

An IOT implies having your entire table indexed, within the same B-Tree structure. Should be used for larger scale tables or dimensions, highly used within the database.

How to?

Accessing the data is done via the primary key, much faster as the key and the data reside in the same structure. Also, lack of duplicaiton on key columns imply the total storage requirements are reduced.

To create an index organized table you must:

  • Specify the primary key using a column or table constraint.
  • Use the ORGANIZATION INDEX.

In addition you can use INCLUDING to define which non-key columns are stored with the key columns in the head piece, should overflow be necessary.

Example:

CREATE TABLE test_iot
 (id NUMBER(10)
, description VARCHAR2(50) NOT NULL
, comments varchar2(4000) 
, CONSTRAINT pk_test_tb PRIMARY KEY (id) ) 
ORGANIZATION INDEX 
TABLESPACE iot_tablespace 
INCLUDING description 
OVERFLOW TABLESPACE overflow_tablespace;

What to keep in mind when using IOT

Having a B-Tree index behaviour, the IOTs can become fragmented, or there might be other reasons you will need to rebuild the index. With no overflow it can be rebuild offline or online, while when it has overflow it can only be rebuit offline.

ALTER TABLE test_iot MOVE INITRANS 10;
--online rebuild
ALTER TABLE test_iot MOVE ONLINE INITRANS 10;
--offline with OVERFLOW
ALTER TABLE test_iot MOVE TABLESPACE iot_tablespace OVERFLOW TABLESPACE overflow_tablespace;

Oracle Bitmap Index

Common usage of Bitmap Indexes is a data warehousing environment. This implies large amounts of data, high level of ad-hoc queries but a low level of concurrent DLM transactions.

Why to use?

  • reduced response time
  • reduced storage requirements compared to other indexing techniques
  • efficient maintenance during parallel DML and load

Bitmap indexes are typically only a fraction of the size of the indexed data in the table.

How it works?

An index provides pointers to the rows in a table that contain a given key value. A regular index stores a list of rowids for each key corresponding to the rows with that key value. In a bitmap index, a bitmap for each key value replaces a list of rowids.

Each bit in the bitmap corresponds to a possible rowid, and if the bit is set, it means that the row with the corresponding rowid contains the key value. A mapping function converts the bit position to an actual rowid, so that the bitmap index provides the same functionality as a regular index. Bitmap indexes store the bitmaps in a compressed way. If the number of distinct key values is small, bitmap indexes compress better and the space saving benefit compared to a B-tree index becomes even better.

Best use case?

From my opinion, bitmaps are most effective on queries with multiple where clauses.  As the bitmaps from bitmap indexes can be combined quickly, it is usually best to use single-column bitmap indexes. This is why the DW environment is the “home” for this type of indexing.

Frequent use cases?

The advantage of bitmap indexes is higher on columns where degree of cardinality (number of distinct values for the indexed column versus the total number of rows in the table) is small. Columns like Status, gender are optimal examples.

However, the datawarehouse environments can also benefit from bitmaps on columns with higher cardinality. This is also mostly due to the combining of bitmaps for quick filtering.

This is due to the fact that AND and OR conditions in the where clause can we resolved faster by performing Boolean operations directly on the bitmaps before converting them to rowids for data retrieval.

Using this bitmap merge methodology, Oracle can provide sub-second response time when working against multiple low-cardinality columns.

Unlike most other indexing, bitmap indexes include rows that have the null values.

Bitmap and Partitioning

You can create bitmap indexes on partitioned tables but they must be local to the partitioned table—they cannot be global indexes.

Example

create table test_tb
( row_id number
, text varchar2(100)
, status char(6));

create bitmap index test_bmpidx on test_tb(status);

On partitioned tables:

create table 
 t2
(c1 char(3) not null
, c2 date not null
, c3 number
, c4 varchar2(100))
partition by range(c2)
interval (numtodsinterval (1,'day'))
 (
 partition empty values less than (to_Date ('03-OCT-2016', 'dd-mon-yyyy'))
 )
;

create bitmap index test_bmpidx on test_tb(status);

 

Restrictions

You cannot create a bitmap join index on a temporary table.

 

Oracle Reverse Index

This is one of the least used Oracle indexes I’ve encountered in a data-warehousing environment. However, a very good instrument in performance problems on OLTPs.

To understand a reverse key index, we must first look at the regular b-tree index on a numerical key, and its storage in the database memory. The index will store, in ascending sort order, all it’s keys on disk. If we consider a key generated by a sequence, then any new value for that key will therefore be inserted in the last database block.

On a high frequency insert setup system in this type of case, you will encounter the buffer busy waits event one too many times.

To see the test on this events, please see post on Buffer Busy Waits – Reverse Key Index – Demo

Now, on considering a reverse key index, the key stored is actually the reversed value. For instance, for values 12, 13, 14 the stored keys will be 21, 31 and 41. This type of index will scatter its consecutive key inserts into multiple blocks, removing the hot-block problem regular keys have.

!!! Please note there is a downside to this approach, meaning the index will no longer allow range scans.

How to create a reverse key index:

create index INDEX_NAME on TABLE_NAME(INDEX_KEY) reverse;

It is also possible to change an existing index, making it reverse:

alter index INDEX_NAME rebuild reverse;

reversed btree

And also to revert a reverse key index into a regular index:

alter index INDEX_NAME rebuild noreverse;

regular btree

Cursor Loop Updates

I’m writing this topic mostly for database developer coming from the programming world.

I have seen various procedural units which use the for syntax to run updates on base tables. Scenarios like the one bellow.

FOR update SQL:

for i in (select * from t1) loop
 update t1
 set amount=amount*(1+(Select adjustment from t2 where discount=i.discount 
    and categ=i.categ))
 where row_id=i.row_id;
end loop;
commit;

The scenario above is the basic example where one table is updated using values from a second table.

Now, in order to understand the basic problem with the above example there is something else you need to keep in mind. In Oracle, the PL/SQL and the SQL are 2 very specific modules. Whenever you call a SQL statement in a PL/SQL block, you are doing a context switch. While this can be very easy on a simple statement, larger data volumes updates like the one above will show you the cost of that context switch.

The scope of this post is to create a thinking methodology shift into a database oriented one, explaining the pro an cons of this approach, together with options of conversion for this type of code into classical DML statements.

Basically, what I’m trying to suggest is use PL/SQL only when procedural thinking is required, but do use your SQL in the most efficient manner to avoid these costly mistakes. Note that 70-80% of these type of syntax use cases can be rewritten in plain SQL.

For instance, our prior for loop can be rewritten into :

merge into t1
 using t2
on ( t1.discount=t2.discount and t1.categ=t2.categ)
when matched then 
 update
 set amount=amount*(1+t2.adjustment);
commit;

Now,

The first example, using the cursor based update, in my demo VM test environment run for about 15 minutes to update a table of 100K rows using a mapping table of 19 rows

while the second occurrence took only  less than 2 seconds.

loop-updatemerge

Now please note this is a basic example, but I have not, as of now, met a situation where this was not the case.

Please note merge will not allow you to update the match condition key fields, therefore some situations might require you to adjust your syntax accordingly.

Scripts:

test-scripts

Please note scripts are uploaded as PDFs but you can still copy the code in.

Note: this was run on Oracle Database 12C 12.1.0.1.0

Oracle: Partition by List Sub-Partition by Range– Example

The following post will walk you trough an exercise of creating a partitioned table, using the list partitioning, with range sub-partitioning (explicit definition of partitions and sub-partitions naming), populating and testing the partition pruning.

Please note I will also post the scripts at each section so you can replicate the work.

Creating our Work Table:

I’m creating a sample table T2 with 4 columns, with the following structure:

table-structure

SQL:

create table 
 t
(c1 char(3) not null
, c2 date not null
, c3 number
, c4 varchar2(100))
partition by list (c1)
subpartition by range(c2)
 (
  partition P1 values ('ABC')
 ( subpartition p1_20161003 values less than (to_date('04-oct-2016','dd-mon-yyyy'))
 , subpartition p1_20161004 values less than (to_date('05-oct-2016','dd-mon-yyyy')) , subpartition p1_20161005 values less than (to_date('06-oct-2016','dd-mon-yyyy'))
 , subpartition p1_20161006 values less than (to_date('07-oct-2016','dd-mon-yyyy'))
 , subpartition p1_20161007 values less than (to_date('08-oct-2016','dd-mon-yyyy'))
 , subpartition p1_20161008 values less than (to_date('09-oct-2016','dd-mon-yyyy'))
 , subpartition p1_20170101 values less than (to_date('01-jan-2017','dd-mon-yyyy'))
 )
 , partition P2 values ('ACD')
 ( subpartition p2_20161003 values less than (to_date('04-oct-2016','dd-mon-yyyy'))
 , subpartition p2_20161004 values less than (to_date('05-oct-2016','dd-mon-yyyy'))
 , subpartition p2_20161005 values less than (to_date('06-oct-2016','dd-mon-yyyy'))
 , subpartition p2_20161006 values less than (to_date('07-oct-2016','dd-mon-yyyy'))
 , subpartition p2_20161007 values less than (to_date('08-oct-2016','dd-mon-yyyy'))
 , subpartition p2_20161008 values less than (to_date('09-oct-2016','dd-mon-yyyy'))
 , subpartition p2_20170101 values less than (to_date('01-jan-2017','dd-mon-yyyy'))
 ) ) ;

We want to partition this table by the C1 column, and subpartition by C2 column, which is a date column: not null, splitting the data into a priorly-defined number of categories.

I’m generating a sample data set of about 100 000 rows.

table-partition-and-subpartition-after-insert

And afterwards, please note a very important step, I’m gathering my stats 🙂

insert into t3 
select 
 case 
 when mod(level,20) <11 then 'ABC'
 when mod(level,20) >10 then 'ACD'
 end as c1
 , to_date('04-oct-2016','dd-mon-yyyy')+level/24/60 
, level 
, 'test record '||level 
from dual 
connect by level <=100000; 

commit; 

execute dbms_stats.gather_table_stats(user,'T3');

Partition Pruning:

Now, let’s run a couple of test to see  how partition is actually helping our performance.

Please note that i used “Autotrace” to show the actual plan and the partition pruning for our selects.

First scenario:

select * from t3;

This is our base test: select all data from our partitioned table:

full-table-scan

Second scenario:

select * from t3
where c1='BCD';

Selecting data filtering on a partition key, but a value which does not exist in the table.

filter-by-partition-key-invalid-value

Third scenario:

select * from t3
where c1='ABC';

Selecting data filtering on a partition key, on a valid value

filter-by-partition-key-valid-value

Third scenario:

select * from t3
where c2 <
     (select /*+ no_unnest + result_cache*/
            (to_Date ('05-OCT-2016', 'dd-mon-yyyy')) + 1
      from dual)
;

Filtering on multiple values of our sub-partition key :

filter-by-subpartition-key

Conclusions:

I’ve been using the SQLDeveloper Autotrace to demonstrate the partition pruning.

As you can see, the selects will do partition pruning when filtering on one or multiple partitions.

But, most interesting, the database will do partition pruning when filtering directly on the sub-partition key.

Working with Large Data Volumes – Partitioning

As more and more the increase in information is getting visible to each database user, there comes a question on how are we to process these volumes in a Data Warehouse environment.

One of the first answers provided by Oracle on this topic is Partitioning.

What is Partitioning?

Similar to an Operating System partitioning, from a database perspective, we should envision partitioning as a logical division of data into separate units (like smaller tables). This allows the database to manage, to a certain extent, information on each partition as if it were a distinct table. Doing this, implies operating smaller sections of data, improving efficiency.

Partitioning enables tables and indexes to be subdivided into individual smaller pieces. Each piece of the database object is called a partition. A partition has its own name, and may optionally have its own storage characteristics.

From the perspective of a database administrator, a partitioned object has multiple pieces that can be managed either collectively or individually. This gives the administrator considerable flexibility in managing a partitioned object.

However, from the perspective of the application, a partitioned table is identical to a non-partitioned table; no modifications are necessary when accessing a partitioned table using SQL DML commands. Logically, it is still only one table

A query-rewrite view on an union all select of identical tables (from structure perspective)

So, to a certain extend, I would compare a partitioned table with a view on multiple tables which have the same structure (and you don’t need to bother in defining each table with the same structure, just adding a partition will give it same metadata), with a special column that sorts/tells you a critical selectivity criteria for that particular data set in the entire view, and which allows query rewrite.

Why?

Looking at a view containing multiple tables, if we query, through the view, information from only one table, Oracle knows to do a very neat trick of query rewrite, and re-writes your query into a selection from only that particular table. This allows for better performance results.

Well, partitioning does something similar, in the context of selecting from one single (or a selection of) partition(s), when filtering on the partitioning key. This is called partition pruning.

Partitioning types

In Oracle, there are a couple of major partitioning types, given a certain key/column:

  • Range Partitioning The data is distributed based on a range of values.
  • List Partitioning The data distribution is defined by a discrete list of values.
  • Hash Partitioning An internal hash algorithm is applied to the partitioning key to determine the partition.

Also, it allows sub-partitioning, which is a combination of the primary partitioning types. This is called Composite Partitioning. First, the table is partitioned by data distribution method one and then each partition is further subdivided into sub-partitions using the second data distribution method.

Additional methods of partitioning:

  • Multi-Column Range Partitioning: An option for when the partitioning key is composed of several columns and subsequent columns define a higher level of granularity than the preceding ones.
  • Interval Partitioning: Extends the capabilities of the range method by automatically defining equi-partitioned ranges for any future partitions using an interval definition as part of the table metadata.
  • Reference Partitioning: Partitions a table by leveraging an existing parent-child relationship. The primary key relationship is used to inherit the partitioning strategy of the parent table to its child table.
  • Virtual Column Based Partitioning: Allows the partitioning key to be an expression, using one or more existing columns of a table, and storing the expression as metadata only.
  • Interval Reference Partitioning: An extension to reference partitioning that allows the use of interval partitioned tables as parent tables for reference partitioning.
  • Range Partitioned Hash Cluster: Allows hash clusters to be partitioned by ranges.

How it Works?

For examples on some of the mentioned partitioning methods, please see my following posts:

See also sub-partitioning examples :

Why to use it?

Partitioning:

  • Increases performance by only working on the data that is relevant.
  • Improves availability through individual partition manageability.
  • Decreases costs by storing data in the most appropriate manner.
  • Is easy as to implement as it requires no changes to applications and queries.

References:

Please note I’ve used the official Oracle documentation for the definitions used in this post for each of the partitioning types, as well as the well known benefits. You can find the original page here.

Oracle: Partition by Range– Example

The following post will walk you trough an exercise of creating a partitioned table, using the range partitioning (with auto define of partition names), populating and testing the partition pruning.

Please note I will also post the scripts at each section so you can replicate the work.

Creating our Work Table:

I’m creating a sample table T2 with 4 columns, with the following structure:

table-t2-structure

SQL:

create table 
 t2
(c1 char(3) not null
, c2 date not null
, c3 number
, c4 varchar2(100))
partition by range(c2)
interval (numtodsinterval (1,'day'))
 (
 partition empty values less than (to_Date ('03-OCT-2016', 'dd-mon-yyyy'))
 )
;

We want to partition this table by the C2 column, which is a date column: not null, splitting the data into a non-prior-defined number of categories.

I’m generating a sample data set of about 100 000 rows.

table-t2-auto-generated-partitions

And afterwards, please note a very important step, I’m gathering my stats 🙂

insert into t2 
select 
 case 
 when mod(level,20) <11 then 'ABC'
 when mod(level,20) >10 then 'ACD'
 end as c1
 , sysdate+level/24/60
 , level
 , 'test record '||level
from dual
connect by level <=100000;


commit;

execute dbms_stats.gather_table_stats(user,'T2');

Partition Pruning:

Now, let’s run a couple of test to see  how partition is actually helping our performance.

Please note that i used “Autotrace” to show the actual plan and the partition pruning for our selects.

First scenario:

select * from t2;

This is our base test: select all data from our partitioned table:

select-all

Second scenario:

select * from t2
where c1='ABC';

Selecting data filtering on a non-partition key.

select-all-when-filter-on-non-partition-key

Third scenario:

select * from t2
where c1 =
     (select /*+ no_unnest + result_cache*/
            (to_Date ('05-OCT-2016', 'dd-mon-yyyy'))
      from dual)
;

Filtering on one of the values of the partition key, ’05-OCT-2016′:

select-1-partition-filtering-on-partition-key

Third scenario:

select * from t2
where c1 <
     (select /*+ no_unnest + result_cache*/
            (to_Date ('07-OCT-2016', 'dd-mon-yyyy'))
      from dual)
;

Filtering on multiple values of our partition key :

select-multiple-partitions-filtering-on-partition-key

Conclusions:

I’ve been using the SQLDeveloper Autotrace to demonstrate the partition pruning.

As you can see, the selects will do partition pruning when filtering on one or multiple partitions.

Also, please note the initially defined partitions are names as expected, while the rest of the data, on insert, generated automatically new partitions, named by the system.

Oracle: Partition by List – Example

The following post will walk you trough an exercise of creating a partitioned table, using the list partitioning, populating and testing the partition pruning.

Please note I will also post the scripts at the end of the post, so you can download to replicate the work.

Creating our Work Table:

I’m creating a sample table T1 with 4 columns, with the following structure:

table-t1-structure

SQL:

create table 
 t1
(c1 char(3) not null
, c2 date
, c3 number
, c4 varchar2(100))
partition by list (c1)
 (
 partition ACB values ('ABC')
 , partition ACD values ('ACD')
 )
;

We want to partition this table by the C1 column, which is more, what i call, a Category column: not null, splitting the data into a couple of finite categories. In our case we have 2 categories: ‘ABC’ and ‘ACD’:

I’m generating a sample data set of about 400 000 rows, in this particular case, evenly split between the two partitions.

And afterwards, please note a very important step, I’m gathering my stats 🙂

insert into t1 
select 
 case 
 when mod(level,20) <11 then 'ABC'
 when mod(level,20) >10 then 'ACD'
 end as c1
 , sysdate+level/24
 , level
 , 'test record '||level
from dual
connect by level <=400000;


commit;

execute dbms_stats.gather_table_stats(user,'T1');

Partition Pruning:

Now, let’s run a couple of test to see  how partition is actually helping our performance.

Please note that i used “Autotrace” to show the actual plan and the partition pruning for our selects.

First scenario:

select * from t1;

This is our base test: select all data from our partitioned table:

select-all

Second scenario:

select * from t1
where c1='ABC';

or

select * from t1
where c1='ACD';

Filtering on one of the values of the partition key, ‘ABC’:

select-abc-only

Third scenario:

select * from t1
where c1 in ('ABC', 'ACD');

Filtering on both values of our partition key (‘ABC’ and ‘ACD’):

select-both

Conclusions:

I’ve been using the SQLDeveloper Autotrace to demonstrate the partition pruning.

As you can see, the selects will do partition pruning when filtering on one or multiple partitions.

Scripts:

test-scripts

Please note scripts are uploaded as PDFs but you can still copy the code in.

Slowly Changing Dimensions – explained

Overview

In discussing Slowly Changing Dimension, the first thing you must consider is first of all, your attributes type. Base on this, you will have various SCD types or combination of types.
Dimension Attribute Types:

  1. Type 0: dimension attribute that never changes.
  2. Type 1: dimension attribute that is overwritten with new values/changes
  3. Type 2: dimension attribute on which we track changes of a value ( for same logical tuple in the table, you will have multiple records representing the changes occurring on that column).

To discuss the various types of columns, let’s take a more generic table example.
We have table DEMO_SCD created for this purpose, with following structure:Overview 1And have inserted a couple of test records/tuples for this:Overview 2In the following definitions, I will define a logical tuple as information identified in a record or records by the natural key.

Dimension attributes types

Type 0 – never changing

These will represent the columns that stay in their original state all the time. This does not imply though that new values of this column cannot be introduced into the dimension. It implies only that for a logical tuple, the information will never change in time, independently of the other columns information for the given table.

One example for this type is the audit creation columns (created by, created date), which will not be changes when the information in the main table changes.
Another example is the natural key of the table (in our test table the ROW_CODE).

The overall constraint on this type is the fact that the information once inserted, it will not change in time.

Type 1 – Volatile Value

These will represent the columns that will change in time, losing the original state. Information can be added, deleted or modified at will. This implies that for a logical tuple, the information will always contain the current/most recent data.

An example of this type of columns represents the audit update columns (last update date, last updated by), whose scope is to capture the last person manipulating a tuple.

Type 2 – Versioning Values

These are columns on which the evolution in time of the value is of interest to the analyst. This implies that values for this column can be inserted, but never updated or deleted. However, this also implies that additional columns are required to implement this, in order to keep track of versioning history, and be able to identify the current data.
I am going to cover only 2 of the implementation options possible:

  • Versioning
  • Time based / Active time range /effective dates

Versioning

Versioning containing tables will look like the following example:Versioning 1
Please note the tuple of AA, where the change in status generated a second record with an increased version number.
Versioning 2
Please note here the VERSION column, which keeps track of the changing of data.
On joining with a versioned SCD, a fact table would have to join by

  • Surrogate key – ROW_ID – this way the identification of correct version is done on populating the fact, and not at reporting time)
  • Natural key and version number
  • Natural key and maximum version (if we report only on current data)
  • Natural key and 0 version (if we report on original data)

Effective Dates

Implementation using effective dates would imply the existence of 1 or 2 date columns which would identify the period the record is active for.

Since the implementation containing one date column would make the identification of a specific information/version of a tuple at a given point in time more difficult, I would always suggest the implementation containing two date columns.
Effective Date 1
Same change on tuple AA is now represented in this example
Effective Date 2
Please note here the START_DATE and END_DATE columns, which keep track of the changing of data.

On joining with a time based SCD, a fact table would have to join by

  • Surrogate key – ROW_ID – this way the identification of correct version is done on populating the fact, and not at reporting time)
  • Natural key and join on start_Date, end_date columns
  • Natural key and current version(identified by end_date null) (if we report only on current data)

Please note that both type 2 columns implementation involve:

  • Updating current record for working tuple
  • Inserting new record with different surrogate key for working tuple

Dimension types

Now, based on the analysis of the column types, we can identify multiple versions of SCD

  • Type 0 – only Type 0 columns;
  • Type 1 – contains type 0 and 1 columns;
  • Type 2 – contains type 2 columns;
  • Type 3 – contains type 2 columns;
  • Type 4 – contains type 2 columns;
  • Type 6 – contains type 2 columns;

Type 0 – Static Tables

This type of table is, from what I see, rarely found in a Data warehouse, but the most frequent example would be a log table. This type of dimension would have data that only gents inserted, and never gets modified.

Type 1 – Current Data Tables

These are the tables where we’re only recording the current version of events. Every single update will modify the exiting tuple in the table, and no historical reporting is possible on this scenario.

Type 2

This type tracks history by creating multiple entries for a given tuple. Unlimited history is preserved for each.
Implementation examples for this are the ones presented for the Type 2 columns.

Type 3

This method will only keep a limited history for each tuple.

The implementation implies additional columns that will keep the last value of a given attribute that we are tracking, or the original state of that column.
This is however very limited, as multiple changes on the same tuple will not be tracked.

Example for this type:
DM type 3 - 1
Please note the ORIGINAL_DESCRIPTION column capturing the original information for the description of the tuple at the time this was created.
DM type 3 - 2
Please note in this example the PRIOR_STATUS. In this implementation, we will only track the last change; the original value will no longer be available for reporting.

Type 4

This is a slightly different scenario, involving 2 tables to keep the tuple information:

  • Current table – only current information
  • History table – part of or all historical information

Both tables will have to be used in reporting, by joining with the fact with each table’s surrogate key.

Example of current table implementation:
DM type 4 - 1
and associated history table:
DM type 4 - 2

Note the AA tuple within the 2 tables.

Type 6

The Type 6 method combines the approaches of types 1, 2 and 3 (1 + 2 + 3 = 6). Ralph Kimball calls this method “Unpredictable Changes with Single-Version Overlay” in The Data Warehouse Toolkit.
DM type 6
Please note data modifications for tuple identified by ROW_CODE = ‘AA’
You will notice that for current record (current flag is ‘Y’), the current status and historical status as always the same.

Note also that the tuple can pass multiple times through the same status.

 

General classification source: Wikipedia