Oracle LIKE clause searches with text indexes

One serious SQL performance problem occurs when you use the SQL “LIKE clause” operator to find a string within a large Oracle table column (e.g. VARCHAR(2000), CLOB, BLOB):


Select stuff from bigtab where text_column like ‘%ipod%’;
Select stuff from bigtab where full_name like ‘%JONES’;


Because standard Oracle cannot index into a large column, there “like” queries cause full-table scans, and Oracle must examine every row in the table, even when the result set is very small.  These unnecessary full-table scans are a problem:


  1. Large-table full-table scans increase the load on the disk I/O sub-system

  2. Small table full table scans (in the data buffer) cause high consistent gets and drive-up CPU consumption

One obscure trick for indexing queries with a leading wildcard character (like '%SON') is to create a REVERSE index and them programmatically reverse the SQL like clause to read "like 'NOS%'", effectively indexing on the other side of the text, clumsy, yet effective.   

Read more about indexing on Oracle text based searches here:


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