Craig S. Mullins
Database Performance Management

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March 2008



Collecting Histogram Statistics With RUNSTATS
By Craig S. Mullins


Among the many new enhancements that have found their way into DB2 9 for z/OS is the ability to gather histogram statistics with the IBM RUNSTATS utility. This feature has been available in DB2 for Linux, Unix, and Windows for some time now, but after you migrate to DB2 V9 it will be available on z/OS.

OK, but what exactly are histogram statistics and why would I care about them? Good questions. Letís first define histogram for those of you who arenít statistics experts. A histogram is a way of summarizing data thatís measured on an interval scale. A histogram is particularly helpful when you want to highlight how data is distributed, to determine if data is symmetrical or skewed, and to indicate whether or not outliers exists.

The histogram is appropriate only for variables whose values are numerical and measured on an interval scale. To be complete, letís define interval: a set of real numbers between two numbers either including or excluding one or both of them. Histograms are generally used when dealing with large data sets.

And you will be interested in histogram statistics because they can be quite useful to the DB2 optimizer for certain types of data and queries. Instead of the frequency statistics, which are collected for only a subset of the data, sometimes DB2 can improve access path selection by estimating predicate selectivity from histogram statistics, which are collected over all values in a table space.

Consider collecting histogram statistics to improve access paths for troublesome queries with RANGE, LIKE, and BETWEEN predicates. They also can help in some cases for equality (=), IS NULL, IN LIST, and COL op COL predicates.

How to Collect Histogram Statistics

OK, so how do you collect histogram statistics? Well, the IBM RUNSTATS utility has been enhanced in DB2 V9 so it can collect statistics by quantiles. DB2 allows up to 100 quantiles. You can specify how many quantiles DB2 is to useófrom one to 100. Of course, you should avoid one because itís the same as collecting for everything, and so it will not help you.

You can tell RUNSTATS to collect histogram statistics by coding the HISTOGRAM keyword in conjunction with the COLGROUP option. In this way, you can collect histogram statistics for a group of columns. You also must tell DB2 the number of quantiles to collect by specifying the NUMQUANTILES parameter. NUMQUANTILES also can be specified with the INDEX parameter, in which case, it indicates that histogram statistics are to be collected for the columns of the index.

A single value can never broken into more than one interval. This means that the maximum number of intervals is equal to the number of distinct column values. For example, if you have 40 values, you can have no more than 40 quantiles, each consisting of a single value. In other words, be sure you donít specify a value for NUMQUANTILES thatís greater than the total number of distinct values for the column (or column group) specified. Also, keep in mind that any NULLs will occupy a single interval.

So, then, how do you decide on the number of quantiles to collect? If you donít specify NUMQUANTILES, the default value of 100 will be used; then, based on the number of records in the table, DB2 will adjust the number of quantiles to an optimal number. Therefore, unless you have a good understanding of the application or a viable reason to deviate, a good rule of thumb is to simply let NUMQUANTILES default and let DB2 work it out.

RUNSTATS will attempt to produce an equal-depth histogram. This means each interval will have about the same number of rows. Please note that this doesnít mean the same number of valuesó

Itís the same number of rows. In some cases, a highly frequent single value could potentially occupy an interval all by itself.

Where Are the Histogram Statistics Stored?

The histogram statistics are collected in three new columns: QUANTILENO, LOWVALUE, and HIGHVALUE. These columns can be found in the following six DB2 Catalog tables:







Hereís an example of a RUNSTATS to gather histogram statistics for the key columns of the indexes.









From DB2 Update, March 2008.
© 2008 Craig S. Mullins, All rights reserved.