Thinking Clearly about Performance

Thinking Clearly about Performance is a 1-day course based on chapter 1 of Cary Millsap’s The Method R Guide to Mastering Oracle Trace Data, 2nd edition, and featured in Communications of the ACM. It describes the principles behind performance problem solving and prevention, linking them together in a coherent journey covering the goals, the terms, the tools, and the decisions that maximize your application’s chance of having a long, productive, high-performance life. Examples in this course touch upon Oracle experiences, but the scope of the course is not restricted to Oracle products.

Cary has the rare ability to teach complex topics in a manner that everyone can understand. He is innovative and entertaining, and he always challenges his audiences to think beyond the status quo.

Andrew Zitelli · Principal Software Engineer with Honors at Thales-Raytheon Systems · Fullerton, California

The Method R Guide to Mastering Oracle Trace Data, 2nd EditionTopics

  • An axiomatic approach
  • What is performance?
  • Performance as an attribute
  • Response time vs. throughput
  • Percentile specifications
  • Problem diagnosis
  • The sequence diagram
  • The profile
  • Latency, call count, and mean
  • The bottleneck
  • Amdahl’s law
  • Skew
  • Minimizing risk
  • Efficiency
  • Load
  • Deterministic and random arrivals
  • Queueing delay
  • Queueing theory
  • Coherency delay
  • Managing load
  • Capacity planning
  • Parallelism
  • Performance testing
  • Measuring
  • Performance is a feature
  • Three axioms of performance
  • Method R
  • Eliminating calls

What You Get


When taught online, the course consists of two 3-hour modules delivered on consecutive days. When taught in person, the course runs for one day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.


The Method R Guide to Mastering Oracle Trace Data, 2nd edition by Cary Millsap is a comprehensively detailed, full-color, 235-page textbook that serves as a valuable reference long after you complete the course.


The course is taught by Cary Millsap. Cary has been an Oracle performance specialist since 1990. He is an Oracle ACE Director, an Oak Table Network founder, and former Vice President at Oracle Corporation. He is the author of Optimizing Oracle Performance (O’Reilly 2003), for which he and coauthor Jeff Holt were named Oracle Magazine’s 2004 Authors of the Year, and The Method R Guide to Mastering Oracle Trace Data, 2nd edition. He is responsible for designing and developing much of the software that you’ll see in class.


Click here for Cary Millsap’s story of how this course came to be.


See for current pricing. Pricing for optional follow-up lab time varies by headcount, location, and duration. Taxes and additional service fees may apply.


Groups of 10 or more registering simultaneously qualify for a course fee discount. Some user groups offer discounts for their members. Existing Method R software licensees with active software maintenance contracts receive a course fee discount instead of redundant software licenses.

Hosting a Public Course at Your Facility

Looking for first-class education without the travel costs for your whole team? By hosting the course at your facility and helping us attract students, we can bring the course right to you. Hosting a public course saves money and provides the ultimate in convenience for you and your colleagues. Write us at if you’re interested in hosting a public course.

Hosting a Private Course

A private course taught at your facility ensures that your staff can be completely open with their classroom discussions. The course curriculum fits tightly into the scheduled format, but we can offer additional days of instruction in which your staff can work directly with the instructor on the subject matter in your company’s specific context.

Our minimum student count for private courses varies by location and is generally proportional to the time and expense required to reach your facility from our office near the DFW Airport. Write us at if you’re interested in hosting a private course.

Classroom Setup

The course requires a quiet room with good lighting, comfortable classroom-style seating, and desktop space for each student. AC power for each student is nice, but not necessary. The instructor will need:

  • a high-resolution digital projector and USB-C (Thunderbolt 3), HDMI, VGA, or over-the-air input
  • a screen for the projector
  • access to 120V or 240V AC power
  • desktop space
  • a chair
  • an Internet connection (RJ-45 or Wi-Fi) is helpful
  • a whiteboard or flip chart is helpful

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