MATCH_RECOGNIZE and the Optimizer

If you have already been working with the new 12c pattern matching feature you will have probably spotted some new keywords appearing in your explain plans. Essentially there are four new keywords that you need to be aware of:
  • MATCH RECOGNIZE
  • SORT
  • BUFFER
  • DETERMINISTIC FINITE AUTO
The fist three bullet points are reasonably obvious (at least I hope they are!) but just incase…. the keywords MATCH RECOGNIZE refers to the row source for evaluating the match_recognize clause . The “SORT keyword means the row source sorts the data data before running it through the state machine to find the matches.  
 
The last keyword is the most interesting and is linked to the use of “state machine”, as mentioned in the previous sentence. Its appearance or lack of appearance affects the performance of your pattern matching query. The importance of this keyword is based on the way that pattern matching is performed. To search for a pattern containing a specific set of events we build something called a “state-machine”. At this point I will turn to Wikipedia to provide a definition of a state machine:
 
…a mathematical model of computation used to design both computer programs and sequential logic circuits. It is conceived as an abstract machine that can be in one of a finite number of states. The machine is in only one state at a time; the state it is in at any given time is called the current state. It can change from one state to another when initiated by a triggering event or condition; this is called a transition…
 
 
The classic example of a state machine is a traffic light which moves through a given sequence of events in a set order and always in that order: Red  ->  Red & Yellow -> Green -> Yellow. The traffic light model can also be viewed as at “deterministic” state machine. This implies that  for every state there is exactly one transition for a given input, i.e. it is not possible to have two different transitions leading out of a particular state. With our traffic light state model it is clear that given a red light state there is only one next transition which is to green & amber.
 
Let’s use our normal stock ticker sample schema that tracks stock market prices for three ticker symbols. Let’s look at two very similar pattern matching queries:
 
SELECT *
FROM Ticker
MATCH_RECOGNIZE (
   PARTITION BY symbol ORDER BY tstamp
   MEASURES STRT.tstamp AS start_tstamp,
            LAST(DOWN.tstamp) AS bottom_tstamp,
            LAST(UP.tstamp) AS end_tstamp
   ONE ROW PER MATCH
   AFTER MATCH SKIP TO LAST UP
   PATTERN (STRT DOWN* UP*)
   DEFINE
      DOWN AS DOWN.price < PREV(DOWN.price),
      UP AS UP.price > PREV(UP.price)
) MR
WHERE symbol='ACME'
ORDER BY MR.symbol, MR.start_tstamp;
SELECT *
FROM Ticker
MATCH_RECOGNIZE (
   PARTITION BY symbol ORDER BY tstamp
   MEASURES STRT.tstamp AS start_tstamp,
            LAST(DOWN.tstamp) AS bottom_tstamp,
            LAST(UP.tstamp) AS end_tstamp
   ONE ROW PER MATCH
   AFTER MATCH SKIP TO LAST UP
   PATTERN (STRT DOWN UP)
   DEFINE
      DOWN AS DOWN.price < PREV(DOWN.price),
      UP AS UP.price > PREV(UP.price)
) MR
WHERE symbol='ACME'
ORDER BY MR.symbol, MR.start_tstamp;


Match Recognize keywords in Otimizer explain plan


Match Recognize keywords in Otimizer explain plan

 

Note that the key difference between the two sql statements is the PATTERN clause. The statement on the left checks for zero or more instances of two different events: 1) where the price in the current row is less then the price in the previous row and 2) where the price in the current row is more then the price in the previous row. The statement on the right checks for only once instance of each down-up pattern. This difference in the definition of the pattern results in different explain plans where the plan on the right includes the key phrase “DETERMINISTIC FINITE AUTO” .

The phrase “DETERMINISTIC FINITE AUTO” means that the state machine that we constructed is deterministic and thus when running the sorted rows through the state machine, we don’t do backtracking (I will write a separate blog post on this topic very soon as it is a key concept in pattern matching. For the moment I will simply point you to Wikipedia page on backtracking, personally I found the section headed “Description of the method” the most useful). The key benefit of building a “DETERMINISTIC FINITE AUTO” plan is that the execution is more efficient when there is no backtracking.

When we analyze the PATTERN clause and build the corresponding state machine we are able to detect deterministic finite automaton by checking the state machine. If any state has two or more outgoing transitions then we regard the state machine as non-deterministic, if any final state is followed by a non-final state, then the state machine is regarded as non-deterministic. At the moment we can only detect a few trivial cases such as PATTERN (A B C), PATTERN (A B+), PATTERN (A B*), etc.
 
The first example of these patterns that we can detect is shown above (see the statement on the right where we have STRT DOWN UP pattern) and the other two examples of these types of deterministic patterns are shown below:
 
SELECT *
FROM Ticker
MATCH_RECOGNIZE (
   PARTITION BY symbol ORDER BY tstamp
   MEASURES STRT.tstamp AS start_tstamp,
            LAST(DOWN.tstamp) AS bottom_tstamp,
            LAST(UP.tstamp) AS end_tstamp
   ONE ROW PER MATCH
   PATTERN (STRT DOWN UP+)
   DEFINE
      DOWN AS DOWN.price < PREV(DOWN.price),
      UP AS UP.price > PREV(UP.price)
) MR
WHERE symbol='ACME'
ORDER BY MR.symbol, MR.start_tstamp;
SELECT *
FROM Ticker
MATCH_RECOGNIZE (
   PARTITION BY symbol ORDER BY tstamp
   MEASURES STRT.tstamp AS start_tstamp,
            LAST(DOWN.tstamp) AS bottom_tstamp,
            LAST(UP.tstamp) AS end_tstamp
   ONE ROW PER MATCH
   PATTERN (STRT DOWN UP*)
   DEFINE
      DOWN AS DOWN.price < PREV(DOWN.price),
      UP AS UP.price > PREV(UP.price)
) MR
WHERE symbol='ACME'
ORDER BY MR.symbol, MR.start_tstamp;

Match Recognize keywords in Otimizer explain plan 



Match Recognize keywords in Otimizer explain plan 

 
For PATTERN (A | B) , or PATTERN (A B+ C) we just regard the state machine as non-deterministic, therefore, the explain plans only contain the keywords MATCH RECOGNIZE (SORT) as shown below:
 
SELECT *
FROM Ticker
MATCH_RECOGNIZE (
   PARTITION BY symbol ORDER BY tstamp
   MEASURES STRT.tstamp AS start_tstamp,
            LAST(DOWN.tstamp) AS bottom_tstamp,
            LAST(UP.tstamp) AS end_tstamp
   ONE ROW PER MATCH
   PATTERN (STRT | DOWN | UP)
   DEFINE
      DOWN AS DOWN.price < PREV(DOWN.price),
      UP AS UP.price > PREV(UP.price)
) MR
WHERE symbol='ACME'
ORDER BY MR.symbol, MR.start_tstamp;
SELECT *
FROM Ticker
MATCH_RECOGNIZE (
   PARTITION BY symbol ORDER BY tstamp
   MEASURES STRT.tstamp AS start_tstamp,
            LAST(DOWN.tstamp) AS bottom_tstamp,
            LAST(UP.tstamp) AS end_tstamp
   ONE ROW PER MATCH
   PATTERN (STRT DOWN* UP)
   DEFINE
      DOWN AS DOWN.price < PREV(DOWN.price),
      UP AS UP.price > PREV(UP.price)
) MR
WHERE symbol='ACME'
ORDER BY MR.symbol, MR.start_tstamp;

Screen Shot 2015 01 27 at 14 56 07

Screen Shot 2015 01 27 at 14 55 46
 
 
Within the current version of 12c (12.1.2) we are not checking the mutual exclusiveness of the DEFINE predicates in detecting a deterministic state machine, therefore, the execution plan defaults to a MATCH RECOGNIZE (SORT) style plan, where we may or may have to use backtracking. Obviously, as we continue to develop the MATCH_RECOGNIZE feature will expand our ability to detect a deterministic state machine which means we will process your patter more efficiently.
 
In summary, if you want the most efficient execution plan then try to define your pattern in such way that we are able to create a deterministic state machine. This assumes, of course, that backtracking is not needed within each partition/data set in order to identify the required pattern (more on this in my next blog post).
  
Hope this information is useful. If you have any questions then feel free to contact me directly (keith.laker@oracle.com).
  

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