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ORACLE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS (DBA AND DEVELOPER)

PART II


What are the components of physical database structure of Oracle database?

Oracle database is comprised of three types of files. One or more datafiles, two are more redo log files, and one or more control files.

What are the components of logical database structure of Oracle database?
There are tablespaces and database's schema objects.

What is a tablespace?
A database is divided into Logical Storage Unit called tablespaces. A tablespace is used to grouped related logical structures together.

What is SYSTEM tablespace and when is it created?
Every Oracle database contains a tablespace named SYSTEM, which is automatically created when the database is created. The SYSTEM tablespace always contains the data dictionary tables for the entire database.

Explain the relationship among database, tablespace and data file ?
Each databases logically divided into one or more tablespaces one or more data files are explicitly created for each tablespace.

What is schema?
A schema is collection of database objects of a user.

What are Schema Objects?
Schema objects are the logical structures that directly refer to the database's data. Schema objects include tables, views, sequences, synonyms, indexes, clusters, database triggers, procedures, functions packages and database links.

Can objects of the same schema reside in different tablespaces?
Yes.

Can a tablespace hold objects from different schemes?
Yes.

What is Oracle table?
A table is the basic unit of data storage in an Oracle database. The tables of a database hold all of the user accessible data. Table data is stored in rows and columns.

What is an Oracle view?
A view is a virtual table. Every view has a query attached to it. (The query is a SELECT statement that identifies the columns and rows of the table(s) the view uses.)

What is Partial Backup ?
A Partial Backup is any operating system backup short of a full backup, taken while the database is open or shut down.

What is Mirrored on-line Redo Log ?

A mirrored on-line redo log consists of copies of on-line redo log files physically located on separate disks, changes made to one member of the group are made to all members.

What is Full Backup ?

A full backup is an operating system backup of all data files, on-line redo log files and control file that constitute ORACLE database and the parameter.

Can a View based on another View ?
Yes.

Can a Tablespace hold objects from different Schemes ?
Yes.

Can objects of the same Schema reside in different tablespace ?
Yes.

What is the use of Control File ?
When an instance of an ORACLE database is started, its control file is used to identify the database and redo log files that must be opened for database
operation to proceed. It is also used in database recovery.

Do View contain Data ?
Views do not contain or store data.

What are the Referential actions supported by FOREIGN KEY integrityconstraint ?
UPDATE and DELETE Restrict - A referential integrity rule that disallows the update or deletion of referenced data. DELETE Cascade - When a referenced row is deleted all associated dependent rows are deleted.

What are the type of Synonyms?
There are two types of Synonyms Private and Public.

What is a Redo Log ?
The set of Redo Log files YSDATE,UID, USER or USERENV SQL functions, or the pseudo columns LEVEL or ROWNUM.

What is an Index Segment ?
Each Index has an Index segment that stores all of its data.

Explain the relationship among Database, Tablespace and Data file?
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Each databases logically divided into one or more tablespaces one or more data files are explicitly created for each tablespace

What are the different type of Segments ?

Data Segment, Index Segment, Rollback Segment and Temporary Segment.

What are Clusters ?
Clusters are groups of one or more tables physically stores together to share common columns and are often used together.

What is an Integrity Constrains ?

An integrity constraint is a declarative way to define a business rule for a column of a table.

What is an Index ?
An Index is an optional structure associated with a table to have direct access to rows, which can be created to increase the performance of data retrieval. Index can be created on one or more columns of a table.

What is an Extent ?
An Extent is a specific number of contiguous data blocks, obtained in a single allocation, and used to store a specific type of information.

What is a View ?
A view is a virtual table. Every view has a Query attached to it. (The Query is a SELECT statement that identifies the columns and rows of the table(s) the view uses.)

What is Table ?
A table is the basic unit of data storage in an ORACLE database. The tables of a database hold all of the user accessible data. Table data is stored in rows and
columns.

What are the advantages of views?
- Provide an additional level of table security, by restricting access to a predetermined set of rows and columns of a table.
- Hide data complexity.
- Simplify commands for the user.
- Present the data in a different perspective from that of the base table.
- Store complex queries.

What is an Oracle sequence?

A sequence generates a serial list of unique numbers for numerical columns of a database's tables.

What is a synonym?
A synonym is an alias for a table, view, sequence or program unit.

What are the types of synonyms?
There are two types of synonyms private and public.

What is a private synonym?
Only its owner can access a private synonym.

What is a public synonym?
Any database user can access a public synonym.

What are synonyms used for?
- Mask the real name and owner of an object.
- Provide public access to an object
- Provide location transparency for tables, views or program units of a remote database.
- Simplify the SQL statements for database users.

What is an Oracle index?

An index is an optional structure associated with a table to have direct access to rows, which can be created to
increase the performance of data retrieval. Index can be created on one or more
columns of a table.

How are the index updates?

Indexes are automatically maintained and used by Oracle. Changes to table data are automatically incorporated into all relevant indexes.

What is a Tablespace?
A database is divided into Logical Storage Unit called tablespace. A tablespace is used to grouped related logical structures together

What is Rollback Segment ?
A Database contains one or more Rollback Segments to temporarily store "undo" information.

What are the Characteristics of Data Files?
A data file can be associated with only one database. Once created a data file can't change size. One or more data files form a logical unit of database storage called a table space.

How to define Data Block size?
A data block size is specified for each ORACLE database when the database is created. A database users and allocated free database space in ORACLE data blocks. Block size is specified in INIT.ORA file and can’t be changed latter.

What does a Control file Contain?
A Control file records the physical structure of the database. It contains the following information.
Database Name
Names and locations of a database's files and redo log files.
Time stamp of database creation.

What is difference between UNIQUE constraint and PRIMARY KEY constraint ?

A column defined as UNIQUE can contain Nulls while a column defined as PRIMARY KEY can't contain Nulls.

What is Index Cluster?

A Cluster with an index on the Cluster Key

When does a Transaction end ?
When it is committed or Rollbacked.

What is the effect of setting the value "ALL_ROWS" for OPTIMIZER_GOAL parameter of the ALTER SESSION command ? What are the factors that affect OPTIMIZER in choosing an Optimization approach ?

Answer The OPTIMIZER_MODE initialization parameter Statistics in the Data Dictionary the OPTIMIZER_GOAL parameter of the ALTER SESSION command hints in the statement.

What is the effect of setting the value "CHOOSE" for OPTIMIZER_GOAL, parameter of the ALTER SESSION Command ?
The Optimizer chooses Cost_based approach and optimizes with the goal of best throughput if statistics for atleast one of the tables accessed by the SQL statement exist in the data dictionary. Otherwise the OPTIMIZER chooses RULE_based approach.

How does one create a new database? (for DBA)
One can create and modify Oracle databases using the Oracle "dbca" (Database Configuration Assistant) utility. The dbca utility is located in the $ORACLE_HOME/bin directory. The Oracle Universal Installer (oui) normally starts it after installing the database server software.
One can also create databases manually using scripts. This option, however, is falling out of fashion, as it is quite involved and error prone. Look at this example for creating and Oracle 9i database:
CONNECT SYS AS SYSDBA
ALTER SYSTEM SET DB_CREATE_FILE_DEST='/u01/oradata/';
ALTER SYSTEM SET DB_CREATE_ONLINE_LOG_DEST_1='/u02/oradata/';
ALTER SYSTEM SET DB_CREATE_ONLINE_LOG_DEST_2='/u03/oradata/';
CREATE DATABASE;

What database block size should I use? (for DBA)
Oracle recommends that your database block size match, or be multiples of your operating system block size. One can use smaller block sizes, but the performance cost is significant. Your choice should depend on the type of application you are running. If you have many small transactions as with OLTP, use a smaller block size. With fewer but larger transactions, as with a DSS application, use a larger block size. If you are using a volume manager, consider your "operating system block size" to be 8K. This is because volume manager products use 8K blocks (and this is not configurable).

What are the different approaches used by Optimizer in choosing an execution plan ?

Rule-based and Cost-based.

What does ROLLBACK do ?
ROLLBACK retracts any of the changes resulting from the SQL statements in the transaction.

How does one coalesce free space ? (for DBA)
SMON coalesces free space (extents) into larger, contiguous extents every 2 hours and even then, only for a short period of time.
SMON will not coalesce free space if a tablespace's default storage parameter "pctincrease" is set to 0. With Oracle 7.3 one can manually coalesce a tablespace using the ALTER TABLESPACE ... COALESCE; command, until then use:
SQL> alter session set events 'immediate trace name coalesce level n';
Where 'n' is the tablespace number you get from SELECT TS#, NAME FROM SYS.TS$;
You can get status information about this process by selecting from the SYS.DBA_FREE_SPACE_COALESCED dictionary view.

How does one prevent tablespace fragmentation? (for DBA)
Always set PCTINCREASE to 0 or 100.
Bizarre values for PCTINCREASE will contribute to fragmentation. For example if you set PCTINCREASE to 1 you will see that your extents are going to have weird and wacky sizes: 100K, 100K, 101K, 102K, etc. Such extents of bizarre size are rarely re-used in their entirety. PCTINCREASE of 0 or 100 gives you nice round extent sizes that can easily be reused. E.g.. 100K, 100K, 200K, 400K, etc.

Use the same extent size for all the segments in a given tablespace. Locally Managed tablespaces (available from 8i onwards) with uniform extent sizes virtually eliminates any tablespace fragmentation. Note that the number of extents per segment does not cause any performance issue anymore, unless they run into thousands and thousands where additional I/O may be required to fetch the additional blocks where extent maps of the segment are stored.

Where can one find the high water mark for a table? (for DBA)
There is no single system table, which contains the high water mark (HWM) for a table. A table's HWM can be calculated using the results from the following SQL statements:
SELECT BLOCKS
FROM DBA_SEGMENTS
WHERE OWNER=UPPER(owner) AND SEGMENT_NAME = UPPER(table);
ANALYZE TABLE owner.table ESTIMATE STATISTICS;
SELECT EMPTY_BLOCKS
FROM DBA_TABLES
WHERE OWNER=UPPER(owner) AND SEGMENT_NAME = UPPER(table);
Thus, the tables' HWM = (query result 1) - (query result 2) - 1
NOTE: You can also use the DBMS_SPACE package and calculate the HWM = TOTAL_BLOCKS - UNUSED_BLOCKS - 1.

What is COST-based approach to optimization ?

Considering available access paths and determining the most efficient execution plan based on statistics in the data dictionary for the tables accessed by the statement and their associated clusters and indexes.

What does COMMIT do ?

COMMIT makes permanent the changes resulting from all SQL statements in the transaction. The changes made by the SQL statements of a transaction become visible to other user sessions transactions that start only after transaction is committed.

How are extents allocated to a segment? (for DBA)

Oracle8 and above rounds off extents to a multiple of 5 blocks when more than 5 blocks are requested. If one requests 16K or 2 blocks (assuming a 8K block size), Oracle doesn't round it up to 5 blocks, but it allocates 2 blocks or 16K as requested. If one asks for 8 blocks, Oracle will round it up to 10 blocks.
Space allocation also depends upon the size of contiguous free space available. If one asks for 8 blocks and Oracle finds a contiguous free space that is exactly 8 blocks, it would give it you. If it were 9 blocks, Oracle would also give it to you. Clearly Oracle doesn't always round extents to a multiple of 5 blocks.
The exception to this rule is locally managed tablespaces. If a tablespace is created with local extent management and the extent size is 64K, then Oracle allocates 64K or 8 blocks assuming 8K-block size. Oracle doesn't round it up to the multiple of 5 when a tablespace is locally managed.

Can one rename a database user (schema)? (for DBA)

No, this is listed as Enhancement Request 158508. Workaround:
Do a user-level export of user A
create new user B
Import system/manager fromuser=A touser=B
Drop user A