Hi Friends,

Indexing is a wonderful thing. We all know about Index scans and seeks. Today I want to talk about SQL Server dynamic index seek operation. I find it tough to explain in words so I will straight away use an example without further ado !

Suppose you run the following query (turn on execution plan or press Ctrl + M)

You will observe that you get a seek plan, obviously because there is a non-clustered index on SalesPersonID column.

The IN list above is logically equivalent to using an OR predicate with the above two values; thus performing two separate seek operations.

Things are simple because we are using constants. Now, let us use variables instead of constants:

And this time you get a pretty complicated plan. Here is the screen shot: (I have just omitted out the SELECT operator)

SQL Server Dynamic Index

Now the question is, why do we get such a complicated plan for simple seeks. Short answer: The optimizer is very intelligent 🙂

Long answer:

The optimizer does not have the values of variables available until runtime. So it does not know if the values will be same for both the variables or will it be different. What do I mean? What I mean is: in the previous case, as I explained, there are 2 seeks that happen and since the optimizer has the values, and if the values are same, it can automatically filter out the duplicates and will not return 2 rows of the same record. In case of the latter, if the variables have the different values, the original seek plan is valid, but what if the values are same? In such a case, since the variable values are not known to the optimizer and it seeks twice, it can return the same record twice if it follows the original plan. That’s why we get such a complicated plan and these plans are an example of SQL Server dynamic index seek operations.

You must be wondering, why MERGE interval in the plan? Why not SORT DISTINCT? Keep yourself tuned in, that’s coming in the next post.

Amit Bansal
SQL MCM, SQL MVP
Director – eDominer Systems, Peopleware India, SQLMaestros

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