Skip to Content
Technical Articles

Working with the Recursive SQLScript limit in HANA

The SQLScript Reference Manual for HANA contains a description for using resursive logic within procedures and functions. Recursion in procedures has a limitation that sets the maximum call depth to 32. I ran across this as I was rewriting some database-related JAVA code as an SQLScript procedure.
While this call-depth check would normally be a showstopper, it looks like with some thought and knowledge of SQLScript capabilities, the limit can be easily overcome.
I assume this limit applies to procedures and not functions because it is related to the fact that procedures can execute inserts, updates, and deletes to tables, whereas functions cannot. The origin of the limit “32” is likewise not known. It does turn out that the SAP ASE database system likewise has the same type of recursive capability and limitation even though it is not documented at all, so I would not view the HANA limitation negatively.

The Business Application

The code under review involves inventory cost methods for equity stock security purchases and sales. When we sell a security, FIFO, LIFO, and moving average accounting methods are applied to the 2nd part of the accounting journal entry, which is the cost part rather than the revenue part.
For cost, we calculate the reduction in inventory and the cost of securities sold. The recursive goal is to figure out which securities to use for costing. Although we could use an SQL loop to select the oldest securities (in the case of FIFO), recursion is also viable. When implementing this, we have many cases where positions for more than 32 small security purchases need to be unwound, in order match one large security sale.

The Recursion Limit Solution

The solution to the recursive call-depth limit is surprising simple.
First, the design of each recursive iteration must be transactionally complete, so that the input of the next iteration does not depend on the result of the previous iteration. This disqualifies things like the factorial example in the HANA documentation. Instead, we must have a design where each iteration commits results to the database so that the next iteration can continue from a known point. If SQL functions had a call-depth limit (which they do not), they too would have been disqualified since they cannot persist results in the form of updates, inserts, and deletes to tables.
Second, we need a way to continue the recursive iteration if it stops. Fortunately, SQLScript has EXIT and CONTINUE exception handlers. With this, we can trap SQL error code 1340 and continue the recursive iteration.
The following is a sample data set, code, and report for a recursive FIFO security costing method which does not abort on a ERR_SQLSCRIPT_NESTED_CALL_TOO_DEEP error. In addition a recursion example, we also have a useful example of the HANA hierarchy feature:

Here is the data set


-- Chronological inventory of purchases (-) and sales (+)
create table inventory (
id         int          not null,
settleDate date         not null,
qty        int          not null,
cost       decimal(4,2)     null,
position   int          not null);

-- Hierarchy for fifo match
create table f_fifo (
parent_id  int              null,
node_id    int          not null,
ord        int          not null,
settleDate date         not null,
qty        int          not null,
cost       decimal(4,2) not null);

create sequence ord start with 1 increment by 1;


insert into inventory values(1004286312,to_date('10/01/2019','MM/DD/YYYY'),-100,10.00,-100);
insert into inventory values(1004286313,to_date('10/03/2019','MM/DD/YYYY'),-100,11.00,-100);
insert into inventory values(1004286314,to_date('10/05/2019','MM/DD/YYYY'), 150,null, 150);
insert into inventory values(1004286315,to_date('10/06/2019','MM/DD/YYYY'),-100,10.80,-100);
insert into inventory values(1004286316,to_date('10/07/2019','MM/DD/YYYY'),  50,null, 50);


Here is the code


create or replace procedure sp_fifo (in sId int)
  declare sPosition, diff, pPosition, pId int;
  declare sSettleDate date;
  declare pCost decimal(10,2);

  -- The oldest purchase (fifo)
  select id, position, cost
  into pId, pPosition, pCost default null, 0, null
  from inventory where id =
    (select min(id)
    from inventory where position < 0);

  -- The sale
  select position, settleDate
  into sPosition, sSettleDate default 0, null
  from inventory where id = :sId;

  if :pPosition < 0 and :sPositon > 0 then
    diff = case
      when :sPosition + :pPosition < 0 then 0
      else :sPosition + :pPosition

    update inventory set position = position + (:sPosition - :diff) where id = :pId;
    update inventory set position = :diff where id = :sId;
    insert into f_fifo values (:pId,:sId,ord.nextval,:sSettleDate, :sPosition - :diff,:pCost);

    call sp_fifo (:sId);
  end if;


create or replace procedure sp_unwind (in sId int)
  using sqlscript_print as prtlib;
  using sqlscript_string as strlib;
  declare msg nvarchar(5000) =
    strlib:format('recursion limit {} exceeded. continuing.',32);

  -- Restart fifo if recursion limit reached.
  declare continue handler for sql_error_code 1340
    call sp_fifo(:sId);

  call sp_fifo(:sId);


Here is how to run it


call sp_unwind (1004286314); -- unwind the first sale
call sp_unwind (1004286316); -- unwind the second sale


And here is the result

We start with inventory input table, showing three purchases and two sales:

id          settleDate  ps        qty   cost
----------  ----------  --------  ----  -----
1004286312  2019-10-01  purchase  -100  10.00
1004286313  2019-10-03  purchase  -100  11.00
1004286314  2019-10-05  sale       150
1004286315  2019-10-06  purchase  -100  10.80
1004286316  2019-10-07  sale        50

After executing sp_unwind(), the f_fifo table contains costing rows for the sales. Next, we create a Hierarchy data structure as a view over the f_fifo sales posted via sp_unwind(), along with the original purchases posted in the inventory table:

create view h_fifo as
select *
from hierarchy (
  source (
    select * from f_fifo
    union all
    select null as parent_id, id as node_id, id as ord, settleDate, qty, cost
    from inventory where qty < 0)
  sibling order by ord);


ps        parent_id   node_id     settleDate  qty   cost
--------  ----------  ----------  ----------  ----  -----
purchase  null        1004286312  2019-10-01  -100  10.00
purchase  null        1004286313  2019-10-03  -100  11.00
sale      1004286312  1004286314  2019-10-05   100  10.00
sale      1004286313  1004286314  2019-10-05    50  11.00
purchase  null        1004286315  2019-10-06  -100  10.80
sale      1004286313  1004286316  2019-10-07    50  11.00

I am using a Hierarchy data structure over both purchases and sales so that I can net the notionals (qty*cost) to compute a balance. For a parent purchase node which is a (-) quantity, sales are applied to it with a (+) quantity as a child node. Child nodes are added as the sale proceeds recursively. If the purchase has been completely unwound, then the balance is 0.0. The hierarchy_descendants_aggregate() function is used to net parent purchases with matching child sales.
Now we compose the query for the final report, showing notionals and balances:

  case when hierarchy_aggregate_type = 0 then 'entry' else 'balance' end "type",
  case when hierarchy_level = 1 then 'purchase'
    when hierarchy_level != 1 and hierarchy_aggregate_type = 0 then 'sale'
    else null end "ps",
  node_id "id",
  settleDate "settleDate",
  qty "qty",
  cost "cost",
  qty*cost "notional",
  balance "balance"
from hierarchy_descendants_aggregate (
  source h_fifo
  measures (
    sum(qty*cost) as balance
  ) with total null
) order by hierarchy_aggregate_type,settleDate,ord;


type    ps       id          settleDate qty  cost  notional balance
------- -------- ----------- ---------- ---- ----- -------- --------
entry   purchase  1004286312 2019-10-01 -100 10.00 -1000.00     0.00
entry   purchase  1004286313 2019-10-03 -100 11.00 -1100.00     0.00
entry   sale      1004286314 2019-10-05  100 10.00  1000.00  1000.00
entry   sale      1004286314 2019-10-05   50 11.00   550.00   550.00
entry   purchase  1004286315 2019-10-06 -100 10.80 -1080.00 -1080.00
entry   sale      1004286316 2019-10-07   50 11.00   550.00   550.00
balance                                                     -1080.00

With this, we show that a combination of HANA features for recursion and hierarchies can be used together in just a few lines of code to efficiently solve what used to be a considerable investment in an external JAVA application.

Be the first to leave a comment
You must be Logged on to comment or reply to a post.