Understanding query execution plans is something that a lot of IT professionals either don't know about or don't understand. SQL Server's programming language T-SQL is different from most other programming languages. In most languages you tell the language what you want it to do, in T-SQL you tell it what you want. This means you are at the mercy of the query optimiser which will take the logical instruction and convert it into a physical plan. The query execution plan is a map of what the optimiser thinks will be a good way of returning the data you have asked for. Being able to understand query plans and what they show is critical for both DBA's and developers in uncovering query performance problems.
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