Efficient T-SQL Code – A Case of Incorrect Use of a UNION Operator
A couple of days back, I had a developer complaining me the
slow performance of some T-SQL which was causing the application to throw a Timeout
Expired error. During Investigation, I noticed that the
developer made an incorrect use of a UNION operator which was the culprit. In this article, I will demonstrate the issue using a demo
First, create the database :
Create database student
Create a table named student inside the student
create table student ( student_id int identity(1,1), student_name varchar(50), city varchar(50) )
Insert a few rows of dummy data into the student table :
insert student(student_name,city) select 'Narayan','Mumbai' union select 'Nikhil','Goa' union select 'Rahul','Gurgaon' union select 'Rajat','Kanpur'
Create indexes on the student table :
CREATE CLUSTERED INDEX IDX_STUDENT_ID ON STUDENT(STUDENT_ID) CREATE NONCLUSTERED INDEX IDX_STUDENT_NAME_CITY ON STUDENT(STUDENT_NAME,CITY)
Now, assume a user executes the below T-SQL:
select * from student where student_name like '%N%' UNION select * from student where city='Kanpur'
have a look at the query execution plan as shown below:
As seen from the above screen capture, there is a SORT
operator which costs around 63% of the overall plan which is very high.
if you have a careful look at the T-SQL; both the select statements are the
except for the conditional clause in it. Therefore the same query could have
been written :
select * from student where ((student_name like '%N%') OR (city='Kanpur'))
Now the query execution plan looks perfect. There is an
Index Scan which means the query optimizer gets an appropriate index
to execute the desired query.
Therefore, it is essential that we carefully
analyze the logic to be used while writing T-SQL. Writing untidy code
unnecessary puts a burden on the query optimizer which in turn affects the
performance of the server as well as the application.
Please let us know in the comments if you have any feedback or suggestions, alternatively you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.