What Is Estimated Subtree Cost? Query Bucks. No, Really.

When you look at a query plan, SQL Server shows a tooltip with an Estimated Subtree Cost:

Estimated Subtree Cost

Now I can run all the bad queries I want!

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, it meant the number of seconds it would take to run on one guy’s Dell desktop. These days, it’s just a set of hard-coded cost estimates around CPU & IO work requirements – it isn’t really tied to time at all.

One day when @Kendra_Little needed to explain the unit of measurement, she coined the term Query Bucks. That’s a great example of how she really brings SQL Server concepts to life in fun ways. (You should check out her SQLworkbooks.com training. Her classes are completely free right now, and I absolutely guarantee you’ll learn something from them. She’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met.)

So this year for our PASS Summit pre-con on performance tuning, we thought it’d be fun to make Query Bucks a real, physical thing. Eric Larsen brought them to life – he’s the amazing illustrator who does all of our portraits, the operators at PasteThePlan, our Christmas cards, you name it. He’s super talented and really delivered:

Kendra’s $5 Query Buck

We immortalized Kendra on her own query buck, plus one for each member of our team, then picked a couple of folks that have influenced our own query tuning careers: Paul White (@SQL_Kiwi) and Joe Sack (JoeSackMSFT). I am totally going to make the phrase “a stack of Paul Whites” a thing.

Joe Sack’s Query Buck

I am totally going to make the phrase “a stack of Paul Whites” a thing

Tara Kizer

Erik Darling

Richie Rump

Me (because either a $2 or $3 bill makes sense for my goofiness)

For the back, the person on the front picked their favorite query plan operator:

In Codd We Trust

I’m tickled pink with how these turned out. This might be my favorite tangible thing that we’ve ever given away – and of course, attendees of our PASS Summit pre-con today all get a handful of Query Bucks. When they get back to the office, I fully expect them to be tipping their fellow DBAs and developers for jobs well done.

Print your own with the Query Bucks PDF. Enjoy!

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