I just came back from RMOUG Training Days conference. It was my first time in Colorado (and obviously my first RMOUG training day) and it was really great (I wrote about it in another post).
During my second session (From 4 Minutes to 8 Seconds – about a real SQL tuning case I had quite a few years ago), I mentioned that one thing that I usually do when I see a query and need to analyze it, is to take a piece of paper and draw the tables and relations between them. When I later look at the execution plan and try to understand what Oracle does, it helps a lot if I know the structure of the tables. There is a big difference between queries built like a “star” (a single table in the middle, while the others are joined to it) or a “line” (each table is joined to the next one), or any other structure.