How to read the steps in a SQL execution plan listing

When Codd and Date created the relational data model, the execution plan was an afterthought, largely because the SQL optimizer was always supposed to generate the best execution plan, and hence, there was not real need to understand the internal machinations of Oracle execution plans.

However, in the real world, all SQL tuning experts must be proficient in reading Oracle execution plans and understand the steps within a explain plans and the sequence that the steps are executed.  To successfully understand an explain plan you must be able to know the order that the plan steps are executed.

Reading SQL execution plans has always been difficult, but there are some tricks to help determine the correct order that the explain plan steps are executed.

http://www.dba-oracle.com/t_order_sequence_sql_execution_explain_plans_steps.htm

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