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My actual work query was an inner join, but this simple example with cross join seems to nearly always reproduce the problem.

SELECT *
FROM (
    SELECT 1 UNION ALL
    SELECT 2
) AA ( A )
CROSS JOIN (
    SELECT NEWID() TEST_ID
) BB ( B )

With my inner join I had many rows for which I added to each a GUID using the NEWID() function, and for about 9 out of 10 such rows the multiplication with the 2-row virtual table produced the expected results, just 2 copies of the same GUID, while 1 out of 10 would produce different results. This was unexpected to say the least and gave me a really hard time trying to find this bug in my test data generation script.

If you take a look at the following queries using as well non-deterministic getdate and sysdatetime functions, you won't see this, I don't anyway-I always see the same datetime value in both final result rows.

SELECT *
FROM (
    SELECT 1 UNION ALL
    SELECT 2
) AA ( A )
CROSS JOIN (
    SELECT GETDATE() TEST_ID
) BB ( B )

SELECT *
FROM (
    SELECT 1 UNION ALL
    SELECT 2
) AA ( A )
CROSS JOIN (
    SELECT SYSDATETIME() TEST_ID
) BB ( B )

I'm currently using SQL Server 2008 and my work around for now is to load my rows with GUIDs into a table variable before finishing out my random data generation script. Once I have them as values in a table as opposed to virtual table, the problem goes away.

I have a workaround, but I'm looking for the ways to workaround without actual tables or table variables.

While writing this I tried without success these possibilities: 1) placing the newid() into a nested virtual table:

SELECT *
FROM (
    SELECT 1 UNION ALL
    SELECT 2
) AA ( A )
CROSS JOIN (
    SELECT TEST_ID
    FROM (
        SELECT NEWID() TEST_ID
    ) TT
) BB ( B )

2) wrapping the newid() within a cast expression such as:

SELECT CAST(NEWID() AS VARCHAR(100)) TEST_ID

3) reversing the order of appearance of the virtual tables within the join expression

SELECT *
FROM (
    SELECT NEWID() TEST_ID
) BB ( B )
CROSS JOIN (
    SELECT 1 UNION ALL
    SELECT 2
) AA ( A )

4) using uncorrelated cross apply

SELECT *
FROM (
    SELECT NEWID() TEST_ID
) BB ( B )
CROSS APPLY (
    SELECT 1 UNION ALL
    SELECT 2
) AA ( A )

Just before finally posting this question, now I tried this with success it seems, a correlated cross apply:

SELECT *
FROM (
    SELECT NEWID() TEST_ID
) BB ( B )
CROSS APPLY (
    SELECT A
    FROM (
        SELECT 1 UNION ALL
        SELECT 2
    ) TT ( A )
    WHERE BB.B IS NOT NULL
) AA ( A )

Anyone have any other more elegant, simpler workaround? I really don't want to use cross apply or correlation for a simple row multiplication if I don't have to.

share|improve this question
    
This has been cross-posted on StackOverflow -- stackoverflow.com/questions/13857134/…. You should not post questions on multiple sites. –  bluefeet Dec 13 '12 at 10:11
    
Hi, actually I posted on both sites because I figured I'd get more answers to choose from that way. I kinda rushed instead of checking on etiquette about these things when me and a coworker got excited about this strange behavior. I'll try to check out the FAQ's about this more carefully next time to avoid any possible misunderstandings. –  JM Hicks Dec 13 '12 at 10:18
    
ah, ok. sorry about that. –  JM Hicks Dec 13 '12 at 10:19

1 Answer 1

up vote 6 down vote accepted

This behaviour is by design, as explained in detail on this Connect bug report. The most pertinent Microsoft reply is reproduced below for convenience (and in case the link dies at some point):

Posted by Microsoft on 7/7/2008 at 9:27 AM

Closing the loop . . . I've discussed this question with the Dev team. And eventually we have decided not to change current behavior, for the following reasons:

  1. The optimizer does not guarantee timing or number of executions of scalar functions. This is a long-estabilished tenet. It's the fundamental 'leeway' tha allows the optimizer enough freedom to gain significant improvements in query-plan execution.

  2. This "once-per-row behavior" is not a new issue, although it's not widely discussed. We started to tweak its behavior back in the Yukon release. But it's quite hard to pin down precisely, in all cases, exactly what it means! For example, does it a apply to interim rows calculated 'on the way' to the final result? - in which case it clearly depends on the plan chosen. Or does it apply only to the rows that will eventually appear in the completed result? - there's a nasty recursion going on here, as I'm sure you'll agree!

  3. As I mentioned earlier, we default to "optimize performance" - which is good for 99% of cases. The 1% of cases where it might change results are fairly easy to spot - side-effecting 'functions' such as NEWID - and easy to 'fix' (trading perf, as a consequence). This default to "optimize performance" again, is long-established, and accepted. (Yes, it's not the stance chosen by compilers for conventional programming languages, but so be it).

So, our recommendations are:

  1. Avoid reliance on non-guaranteed timing and number-of-executions semantics.
  2. Avoid using NEWID() deep in table expressions.
  3. Use OPTION to force a particular behavior (trading perf)

Hope this explanation helps clarify our reasons for closing this bug as "won't fix".

The GETDATE and SYSDATETIME functions are indeed non-deterministic, but they are treated as runtime constants for a particular query. Broadly, this means the function's value is cached when query execution starts, and the result re-used for all references within the query.

None of the 'workarounds' in the question are safe; there is no guarantee the behaviour will not change the next time the plan is compiled, when you next apply a service pack or cumulative update...or for other reasons.

The only safe solution is to use a temporary object of some kind - a variable, table, or multi-statement function for example. Using a workaround that appears to work today based on observation is a great way to experience unexpected behaviours in future, typically in the form of a paging alert at 3am on Sunday morning.

share|improve this answer
    
"None of the 'workarounds' in the question are safe;" ditto that. When I tried to apply one of them to my actual working query it didn't help at all. –  JM Hicks Dec 13 '12 at 11:34

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