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  Oracle Database Tips by Donald Burleson

Indexing Foreign Keys

We talked about foreign keys and how they enforced a parent child relationship.  One problem with foreign keys is that when you UPDATE/INSERT to the child column, you must scan the parent column to validate the key.  If the parent is not a primary key, this can result in constantly reading the entire table to validate the child value.  Placing an index on the parent column will allow the foreign key to validate the child with the index, avoiding the costly full table scan. 

When you start designing your database, you need to develop a naming scheme.  This will allow you to determine the function of objects in the database.  Tables are pretty easy, but indexes are normally left out.  You should name each object so that you know what it does.  The emp_job_fdx index could be the index on the emp_job_fk constraint.  A primary key index could be name_pk, a unique index name_udx.   

Sometimes, you can find that the database over indexes, causing performance problems on INSERTs and UPDATEs.  You must determine which indexes you can remove to improve performance.  If you unknowingly delete an index on a foreign key, the performance impact may be drastic.  By using a logical naming convention, you will know by the object name why you placed it into the database in the first place. 

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