Half the battle of writing good SQL is in understanding how the Oracle query optimizer analyzes your code and applies statistics in order to derive the “best” execution plan. The other half of the battle is successfully applying that knowledge to the databases that you manage. The optimizer uses statistics as input to develop query execution plans, and so these statistics are the foundation of good plans. If the statistics supplied aren’t representative of your actual data, you can expect bad plans. However, if the statistics are representative of your data, then the optimizer will probably choose an optimal plan.