Hints are excellent database performance tuning tools that force the Oracle optimizer to utilize specific operations in SQL execution plans. We often use hints because the Oracle optimizer doesn't always come up with the execution plan that DBAs want on its own.
When used correctly, hints can help stabilize an execution plan to use the same operations over and over allowing the SQL to perform the way we desire.
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About Karen MortonKaren Morton is a consultant and educator specializing in application optimization in both shoulder-to-shoulder consulting engagements and classroom settings. She is a Senior DBA Performance and Tuning Specialist.For over 20 years, Karen has worked in information technology. Starting as a mainframe programmer and developer, she has been a DBA, a data architect and now is a researcher, educator and consultant. Having used Oracle since the early 90's, she began teaching others how to use Oracle over a decade ago.Karen is a frequent speaker at conferences and user groups, an Oracle ACE, and a member of the OakTable network.
She blogs at karenmorton.blogspot.com.