Oracle Advanced Analytics

How to speed up your Oracle Data Mining with in-memory and parallel

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Have you have found running a workflow in Oracle Data Miner slow or running the scripts in the database slow ?

No. Good, because I haven’t found it slow.

But (there is always a but) it really depends on the volume of data your are dealing with. For the vast majority of us who aren’t of the size of google, amazon, etc have data volumes that are not that large really and a basic server can process many millions of records extremely quickly using Oracle Data Mining.

But what if we have a large volume of data. In one recent project I had a data set containing over 3.5 billion records. Now that is big data. All of this data sitting in an Oracle Database.

So how can we process over 3.5 billion records in a couple of seconds, building 4 machine learning models in that time? Is that really possible with just using an Oracle Database? Yes is the answer and very easily. (Surely I needed Hadoop and Spark to process this data? Nope!)

The Oracle Data Miner (ODMr) tool comes with a new feature in SQL Developer 4 (and higer) that allows you to manage using Parallel execution and the in-memory DB features. These can be accessed on the ODMr Worksheet tool bar.


The best time to look at these setting is when you have created your workflow and are ready to run it for the first time. When you click on the ‘Performance Options’ link, you will get the following window. It will display the list of nodes you have in the workflow and will then indicate if the Degree of Parallel and the In-Memory options can be set for each of the nodes.


The default values are shown and you can changes these. For example, in a lot of scenarios you might prefer to leave the Degree of Parallel as System Determined. This will then use whatever the the default is for the database and controlled by the DBA, but if you want to specify a particular value then you can, for example setting the degree of parallel to 4 for the ‘Class Build’ node, in the above image. Similarly for the in-memory option, this will only be available for nodes where the in-memory option would be applicable. This will be where there is a lot of data processing (preparing data, transforming data, performing specific statistics, etc) and for storing any data that is generated by Oracle Data Mining.

But what if you want to change the default values. You can change these at a global level within the SQL Developer Preferences. Here you can set the default to be used for each of the different types of Oracle Data Mining nodes.


I mentioned at the start that I’ve been able to build 4 machine learning models using Oracle Data Mining on a data set of over 3.5 billion records, all in a couple of seconds. In my scenario Parallel was set to 16 and we didn’t use in-memory as we didn’t have the licence for it. You can see that machine learning at lighting speed (ish) is possible. This timing is only for building the models, which is the step that consumes the most about of resources and time. When it comes to scoring the data, that is lighting fast. In may scenario, scoring over 300,000 was less than a second, and I didn’t use parallel or anything else to speed things up. Because we didn’t need to.

Go give it a try!


ODM Model View Details Views in Oracle 12.2

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A new feature for Oracle Data Mining in Oracle 12.2 is the new Model Details views.

In Oracle and up to Oracle 12.1 you needed to use a range of PL/SQL functions (in DBMS_DATA_MINING package) to inspect the details of a data mining/machine learning model using SQL.

Check out these previous blog posts for some examples of how to use and extract model details in Oracle 12.1 and earlier versions of the database

Association Rules in ODM-Part 3

Extracting the rules from an ODM Decision Tree model

Cluster Details

Viewing Decision Tree Details

Instead of these functions there are now a lot of DB views available to inspect the details of a model. The following table summarises these various DB Views. Check out the DB views I’ve listed after the table, as these views might some some of the ones you might end up using most often.

I’ve now chance of remembering all of these and this table is a quick reference for me to find the DB views I need to use. The naming method used is very confusing but I’m sure in time I’ll get the hang of them.

NOTE: For the DB Views I’ve listed in the following table, you will need to append the name of the ODM model to the view prefix that is listed in the table.

table, th, td {
border: 1px solid black;
border-collapse: collapse;
text-align: left;

Data Mining Type Algorithm & Model Details 12.2 DB View Description
Association Association Rules DM$VR generated rules for Association Rules
Frequent Itemsets DM$VI describes the frequent itemsets
Transaction Itemsets DM$VT describes the transactional itemsets view
Transactional Rules DM$VA describes the transactional rule view and transactional itemsets
Classification (General views for Classification models) DM$VT


describes the target distribution for Classification models

describes the scoring cost matrix for Classification models

Decision Tree DM$VP




describes the DT hierarchy & the split info for each level in DT

describes the statistics associated with individual tree nodes

Higher level node description

describes the cost matrix used by the Decision Tree build

Generalized Linear Model DM$VD


describes model info for Linear Regres & Logistic Regres

describes row level info for Linear Regres & Logistic Regres

Naive Bayes DM$VP


describes the priors of the targets for Naïve Bayes

describes the conditional probabilities of Naïve Bayes model

Support Vector Machine DM$VL describes the coefficients of a linear SVM algorithm
Regression ??? Doe 80 50
Clustering (General views for Clustering models) DM$VD




Cluster model description

Cluster attribute statistics

Cluster historgram statistics

Cluster Rule statistics

k-Means DM$VD




k-Means model description

k-Means attribute statistics

k-Means historgram statistics

k-Means Rule statistics

O-Cluster DM$VD




O-Cluster model description

O-Cluster attribute statistics

O-Cluster historgram statistics

O-Cluster Rule statistics

Expectation Minimization DM$VO






describes the EM components

the pairwise Kullback–Leibler divergence

attribute ranking similar to that of Attribute Importance

parameters of multi-valued Bernoulli distributions

mean & variance parameters for attributes by Gaussian distribution

the coefficients used by random projections to map nested columns to a lower dimensional space

Feature Extraction Non-negative Matrix Factorization DM$VE


Encoding (H) of a NNMF model

H inverse matrix for NNMF model

Singular Value Decomposition DM$VE



Associated PCA information for both classes of models

describes the right-singular vectors of SVD model

describes the left-singular vectors of a SVD model

Explicit Semantic Analysis DM$VA


ESA attribute statistics

ESA model features

Feature Section Minimum Description Length DM$VA describes the Attribute Importance as well as the Attribute Importance rank

Normalizing and Error Handling views created by ODM Automatic Data Processing (ADP)

  • DM$VN : Normalization and Missing Value Handling
  • DM$VB : Binning

Global Model Views

  • DM$VG : Model global statistics
  • DM$VS : Computed model settings
  • DM$VW :Alerts issued during model creation

Each one of these new DB views needs their own blog post to explain what informations is being explained in each. I’m sure over time I will get round to most of these.

Managing memory allocation for Oracle R Enterprise Embedded Execution

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When working with Oracle R Enterprise and particularly when you are using the ORE functions that can spawn multiple R processes, on the DB Server, you need to be very aware of the amount of memory that will be consumed for each call of the ORE function.

ORE has two sets of parallel functions for running your user defined R scripts stored in the database, as part of the Embedded R Execution feature of ORE. The R functions are called ore.groupApply, ore.rowApply and ore.indexApply. When using SQL there are “rqGroupApply” and rqRowApply. (There is no SQL function equivalent of the R function ore.indexApply)

For each parallel R process that is spawned on the DB server a certain amount of memory (RAM) will be allocated to this R process. The default size of memory to be allocated can be found by using the following query.

select name, value from sys.rq_config;

NAME                                VALUE
----------------------------------- -----------------------------------
VERSION                             1.5
MIN_VSIZE                           32M
MAX_VSIZE                           4G
MIN_NSIZE                           2M
MAX_NSIZE                           20M

The memory allocation is broken out into the amount of memory allocated for Cells and NCells for each R process.

If your parallel ORE function create a large number of parallel R processes then you can see that the amount of overall memory consumed can be significant. I’ve seen a few customers who very quickly run out of memory on their DB servers. Now that is something you do not want to happen.

How can you prevent this from happening ?

There are a few things you need to keep in mind when using the parallel enabled ORE functions. The first one is, how many R processes will be spawned. For most cases this can be estimated or calculated to a high degree of accuracy. Secondly, how much memory will be used to process each of the R processes. Thirdly, how memory do you have available on the DB server. Fourthly, how many other people will be running parallel R processes at the same time?

Examining and answering each of these may look to be a relatively trivial task, but the complexity behind these can increase dramatically depending on the answer to the fourth point/question above.

To calculate the amount of memory used during the ORE user defined R script, you can use the R garbage function to calculate the memory usage at the start and at the end of the R script, and then return the calculated amount. Yes you need to add this extra code to your R script and then remove it when you have calculated the memory usage.

gc.start <- gc(reset=TRUE)
gc.end <- gc()
gc.used <- gc.end[,7] - gc.start[,7] # amount consumed by the processing

Using this information and the answers to the points/questions I listed above you can now look at calculating how much memory you need to allocated to the R processes. You can set this to be static for all R processes or you can use some code to allocate the amount of memory that is needed for each R process. But this starts to become messy. The following gives some examples (using R) of changing the R memory allocations in the Oracle Database. Similar commands can be issued using SQL.

> sys.rqconfigset('MIN_VSIZE', '10M') -- min heap 10MB, default 32MB
> sys.rqconfigset('MAX_VSIZE', '100M') -- max heap 100MB, default 4GB
> sys.rqconfigset('MIN_NSIZE', '500K') -- min number cons cells 500x1024, default 1M
> sys.rqconfigset('MAX_NSIZE', '2M') -- max number cons cells 2M, default 20M

Some guidelines – as with all guidelines you have to consider all the other requirements for the Database, and in reality you will have to try to find a balance between what is listed here and what is actually possible.

  • Set parallel_degree_policy to MANUAL.
  • Set parallel_min_servers to the number of parallel slave processes to be started when the database instances start, this avoids start up time for the R processes. This is not a problem for long running processes. But can save time with processes running for 10s seconds
  • To avoid overloading the CPUs if the parallel_max_servers limit is reached, set the hidden parameter _parallel_statement_queuing to TRUE. Avoids overloading and lets processes wait.
  • Set application tables and their indexes to DOP 1 to reinforce the ability of ORE to determine when to use parallelism.

Understanding the memory requirements for your ORE processes can be tricky business and can take some time to work out the right balance between what is needed by the spawned parallel R processes and everything else that is going on in the Database. There will be a lot of trial and error in working this out and it is always good to reach out for some help. If you have a similar scenario and need some help or guidance let me know.

OUG Ireland 2017 Presentation

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Here are the slides from my presentation at OUG Ireland 2017. All about running R using SQL.

Blog posts on Oracle Advanced Analytics features in 12.2

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A couple of days ago Oracle finally provided us with an on-premises download for Oracle 12.2 Database.

Go and download load it from here


Download the Database App Development VM with 12.2 (This is what I did)

Over the past couple of months I’ve been using the DBaaS of 12.2, trying out some of the new Advanced Analytics option new features, and other new features. Here are the links to the blog posts on these new 12.2 new features. There will be more coming over the next few months.

New OAA features in Oracle 12.2 Database

Explicit Semantic Analysis in Oracle 12.2c Database

Explicit Semantic Analysis setup using SQL and PL/SQL

and slightly related is the new SQL Developer 4.2

Oracle Data Miner 4.2 New Features

Formatting results from ORE script in a SELECT statement

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This blog post looks at how to format the output or the returned returns from an Oracle R Enterprise (ORE), user defined R function, that is run using a SELECT statement in SQL.

Sometimes this can be a bit of a challenge to work out, but it can be relatively easy once you have figured out how to do it. The following examples works through some scenarios of different results sets from a user defined R function that is stored in the Oracle Database.

To run that user defined R function using a SELECT statement I can use one of the following ORE SQL functions.

  • rqEval
  • rqTableEval
  • rqGroupEval
  • rqRowEval

For simplicity we will just use the first of these ORE SQL functions to illustrate the problem and how to go about solving it. The rqEval ORE SQL function is a generate purpose function to call a user defined R script stored in the database. The function does not require any input data set and but it will return some data. You could use this to generate some dummy/test data or to find some information in the database. Here is noddy example that returns my name.

      'function() {
         } ');

To call this user defined R function I can use the following SQL.

select *
from table(rqEval(null,
                  'select cast(''a'' as varchar2(50))  from dual',
                  'GET_NAME') );  

For text strings returned you need to cast the returned value giving a size.

If we have a numeric value being returned we can don’t have to use the cast and instead use ‘1’ as shown in the following example. This second example extends our user defined R function to return my name and a number.

      'function() {
         res<-data.frame(NAME="Brendan", YEAR=2017)
         } ');

To call the updated GET_NAME function we now have to process two returned columns. The first is the character string and the second is a numeric.

select *
from table(rqEval(null,
                  'select cast(''a'' as varchar2(50)) as "NAME", 1 AS YEAR  from dual',
                  'GET_NAME') );                  

These example illustrate how you can process character strings and numerics being returned by the user defined R script.

The key to setting up the format of the returned values is knowing the structure of the data frame being returned by the user defined R script. Once you know that the rest is (in theory) easy.

Explicit Semantic Analysis setup using SQL and PL/SQL

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In my previous blog post I introduced the new Explicit Semantic Analysis (ESA) algorithm and gave an example of how you can build an ESA model and use it. Check out this link for that blog post.

In this blog post I will show you how you can manually create an ESA model. The reason that I’m showing you this way is that the workflow (in ODMr and it’s scheduler) may not be for everyone. You may want to automate the creation or recreation of the ESA model from time to time based on certain business requirements.

In my previous blog post I showed how you can setup a training data set. This comes with ODMr 4.2 but you may need to expand this data set or to use an alternative data set that is more in keeping with your domain.

Setup the ODM Settings table

As with all ODM algorithms we need to create a settings table. This settings table allows us to store the various parameters and their values, that will be used by the algorithm.

-- Create the settings table
    setting_name VARCHAR2(30),
    setting_value VARCHAR2(30));

-- Populate the settings table
-- Specify ESA. By default, Naive Bayes is used for classification.
-- Specify ADP. By default, ADP is not used. Need to turn this on.
    INSERT INTO ESA_settings (setting_name, setting_value)
    VALUES (dbms_data_mining.algo_name,       
    INSERT INTO ESA_settings (setting_name, setting_value)
    VALUES (dbms_data_mining.prep_auto,dbms_data_mining.prep_auto_on);
    INSERT INTO ESA_settings (setting_name, setting_value)
    VALUES (odms_sampling,odms_sampling_disable);

These are the minimum number of parameter setting needed to run the ESA algorithm. The other ESA algorithm setting include:


Setup the Oracle Text Policy

You also need to setup an Oracle Text Policy and a lexer for the Stopwords.

   v_policy_name  varchar2(30);
   v_lexer_name   varchar2(3)
    v_policy_name  := 'ESA_TEXT_POLICY';
    v_lexer_name   := 'ESA_LEXER';
    ctx_ddl.create_preference(v_lexer_name, 'BASIC_LEXER');
    v_stoplist_name := 'CTXSYS.DEFAULT_STOPLIST';  -- default stop list
    ctx_ddl.create_policy(policy_name => v_policy_name, lexer => v_lexer_name, stoplist => v_stoplist_name);

Create the ESA model

Once we have the settings table created with the parameter values set for the algorithm and the Oracle Text policy created, we can now create the model.

To ensure that the Oracle Text Policy is applied to the text we want to analyse we need to create a transformation list and add the Text Policy to it.

We can then pass the text transformation list as a parameter to the CREATE_MODEL, procedure.

   v_xlst              dbms_data_mining_transform.TRANSFORM_LIST;
   v_policy_name       VARCHAR2(130) := 'ESA_TEXT_POLICY';
   v_model_name        varchar2(50) := 'ESA_MODEL_DEMO_2';
   v_xlst := dbms_data_mining_transform.TRANSFORM_LIST();

        model_name          => v_model_name,
        mining_function     => DBMS_DATA_MINING.FEATURE_EXTRACTION,
        data_table_name     => 'WIKISAMPLE',
        case_id_column_name => 'TITLE',
        target_column_name  => NULL,
        settings_table_name => 'ESA_SETTINGS',
        xform_list          => v_xlst);

NOTE: Yes we could have merged all of the above code into one PL/SQL block.

Use the ESA model

We can now use the FEATURE_COMPARE function to use the model we just created, just like I did in my previous blog post.

               USING 'Oracle Database is the best available for managing your data' text 
               AND USING 'The SQL language is the one language that all databases have in common' text) similarity 

Go give the ESA algorithm a go and see where you could apply it within your applications.