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Convert NOT IN Sub-Select to LEFT JOIN

Posted on 2011-09-30
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Last Modified: 2012-05-12
When I run this query:

select distinct idQuestion from Question
where parentid is null AND idQuestion not in (select distinct parentid from Question where parentid is not null)
order by idQuestion

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The query never finishes after waiting several minutes. I've researched the issue and the conclusion is to use a LEFT JOIN instead of a sub-select. However, I'm not sure how to properly construct the query with these limitations.
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Question by:BCRobert
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12 Comments
 
LVL 142

Expert Comment

by:Guy Hengel [angelIII / a3]
ID: 36891743
please try this:

select q.idQuestion 
from Question q
where q.parentid is null 
AND NOT EXISTS ( select NULL from Question o where o.parentid = q.idQuestion )
order by idQuestion 

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and please ensure you have an index on parentid
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LVL 5

Expert Comment

by:eridanix
ID: 36891750
Hi,

I mean you have little nonsense in your query, becouse you compare idQuestion with parentid

The correct query should only be:
select distinct idQuestion
from Question
where parentid is not null
order by idQuestion

Maybe, you need get something else. So try to explain what shloud be result of this query.
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Author Comment

by:BCRobert
ID: 36891794
@angellll: parentid isn't indexed because it's not unique. This query is taking just as long.

@eridanix: That query won't work. Here's what I'm trying to find:

Find the question IDs that are not a parent ID of another question and the parentid is null.

idQuestion    |    data     |    parentid
123               |    abc      |       NULL
321               |    def       |        123
444               |    qqq       |    NULL

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The query should return just '444' as its parentid is null AND is not a parentid of another question.
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LVL 5

Expert Comment

by:eridanix
ID: 36891882
select distinct idQuestion
from Question
where parentid is null and idQuestion NOT IN (select idQuestion from Question where parentid is not null)
order by idQuestion
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LVL 142

Accepted Solution

by:
Guy Hengel [angelIII / a3] earned 500 total points
ID: 36891919
>parentid isn't indexed because it's not unique. T

indexes can be on non-unique fields.
please create such an index.
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LVL 142

Expert Comment

by:Guy Hengel [angelIII / a3]
ID: 36891930
edit: you might not know the a primary key is a UNIQUE index, under the hood, but you can created non-unique indexes.
actually, a index is non-unique by default, unless you specify it to add the restriction that each value can only be present once.
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Author Comment

by:BCRobert
ID: 36891937
@eridanix: That will not return the results I need. I need to make sure the the idQuestion IS NOT the parentid of another question.
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Author Comment

by:BCRobert
ID: 36891968
@angellll: The parentid is already an index, apparently (I didn't create the database/tables):

parentIdIdx      BTREE      No      No      parentId      41002      A      YES      
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LVL 5

Expert Comment

by:eridanix
ID: 36892014
select idQuestion
from dbo.Questions
where idQuestion IN (select idQuestion from Question where parentid is null) AND idQuestion NOT IN  (select parentid from Question where parentid is not null)
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Author Comment

by:BCRobert
ID: 36892103
@angellll: It seems that re-creating the index helped tremendously. Not sure why, but the query finished after about 45 seconds, which is still slow, but it's not a query we'll be running often.
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Author Closing Comment

by:BCRobert
ID: 36892108
Creating/recreating the index helped the initial query finished. Converting it to LEFT JOIN/NOT IN isn't needed.
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LVL 142

Expert Comment

by:Guy Hengel [angelIII / a3]
ID: 36892237
please try to remove the 2 DISTINCT in the query.

IN ( SELECT DISTINCT  ... ) will be the same, but slower normally, as
IN ( SELECT ... )

the NOT EXISTS () version I posted should be fastest ...
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