[Python-Dev] Re: Python optmizations

Gustavo Niemeyer niemeyer@conectiva.com
Fri, 8 Feb 2002 18:56:35 -0200

Hi Skip!

> Thanks for the note.  Funny coincidence the timing of your note like a bolt
> out of the blue and my attendance at IPC10 where Jeremy Hylton and I led a
> session this afternoon on optimization issues.

You have a powerful mind... ;-)

> I should probably check my peephole optimizer into the nondist sandbox on
> SF.  It shouldn't take very much effort.  Unlike Rattlesnake, it still
> pretty much works.

Please, do that. I'd like to have a look at it.

> It sounds like your measurements were made on the static bytecode.  I


> suspect you might find the dynamic opcode pair frequencies interesting as
> well.  That's what most people look at when deciding what really follows
> what.  (For example, did you consider the basic block structure of the
> bytecode or just adjacency in the disassembler output?)  You can get this

Yes, I have customized the disassembler a little bit.

> information by defining the two macros DXPAIRS and DYNAMIC_EXECUTION_PROFILE
> when compiling Python.  I think all you need to recompile is ceval.c and
> sysmodule.c Once you've done this, run your scripts as usual, then before
> exit (you might just want to run your subject script with the -i flag), call
> sys.getdxp().  That will return you a 257x256 list (well, a list containing
> 257 other lists, each of which contains 256 elements).  The value at
> location [i][j] corresponds to the frequency of opcode j being executed
> immediately after opcode i (or the other way around - a quick peek at the
> code will tell you which is which).

I was aware about this because of the code just after the dispatch_opcode
label. Again, I'm not original. :-) On the other hand, when running an
application you have data about that specific application, and the
behavior of that run (next time it may follow other paths). While this
is good, because you know what opcodes are being repeated most often,
measuring static data may give you a wider view of repeating opcodes.

> At one point I had an xmlrpc server running on manatee.mojam.com to which
> people could submit such opcode frequency arrays, however nobody submitted
> anything to it, so I eventually turned it off.  I would be happy to crank it
> up again.  With the atexit module and xmlrpclib in the core library, it's
> dead easy to instrument a program so it automatically dumps the data to my
> server upon program exit.

Now, *that* is something interesting. If you're really going to put the
system up, you may count with my help if you need any.

>     Gustavo> 15382   LOAD_CONST, LOAD_CONST
> Now, this is interesting.  If those constants are numbers and the next
> opcode is a BINARY_*, my peephole optimizer can elide that operation and
> create a new constant, so something like
>     LOAD_CONST 60
>     LOAD_CONST 60
> would get converted to simply 
>     LOAD_CONST 3600

Good point!!

>>> def f():  
...   return 2+1*5
>>> dis.dis(f)
          0 SET_LINENO               1

          3 SET_LINENO               2
          6 LOAD_CONST               1 (2)
          9 LOAD_CONST               2 (1)
         12 LOAD_CONST               3 (5)
         15 BINARY_MULTIPLY     
         16 BINARY_ADD          
         17 RETURN_VALUE        
         18 LOAD_CONST               0 (None)
         21 RETURN_VALUE        

That's something we shouldn't left behind.

>     Gustavo> 12121   LOAD_FAST, LOAD_FAST
> While this pair occurs frequently, they are very cheap instructions.  All
> you'd be saving is a trip around the opcode dispatch loop.

I see..

>     Gustavo> Not by casuality, I found in your paper references to a
>     Gustavo> LOAD_FAST_ATTR opcode. Since you probably have mentioned this
>     Gustavo> to others, I wouldn't like to bother everyone again asking why
>     Gustavo> it was not implemented. Could you please explain me the reasons
>     Gustavo> that left this behind?
> LOAD_ATTR is a *very* expensive opcode (perhaps only second to CALL_FUNCTION
> on a per-instruction basis). Jeremy measured minimums of around 500 clock
> cycles and means of around 1200 clock cycles for this opcode.  In contrast,
> it appears that a single trip around the opcode dispatch loop is on the
> order of 50 clock cycles, so merging a LOAD_FAST/LOAD_ATTR pair into one
> instruction only saves about 50 cycles.  What you want to eliminate is the
> 500+ cycles from the LOAD_ATTR instruction.  Jeremy and I both have ideas
> about how to accomplish some of that, but it's not a trivial task.

Hummmm... pretty interesting! Thanks for the explanation.

> I believe in most cases I got about a 5% speedup with peephole optimization.
> That's nothing to sneeze at I suppose, but there were some barriers to
> adoption.  First and foremost, generating that instruction requires running
> my optimizer, which isn't blindingly fast.  (Probably fast enough for a
> "compileall" step that you execute once at install time, but maybe too slow
> to use regularly on-the-fly.)  It also predates the compiler Jeremy
> implemented in Python.  It would probably be fairly easy to hang my
> optimizer off the back end of his compiler as an optional pass.  It looks

I understand. That's something to be implemented in C, once we know
the efforts are worthwhile. Maybe 5% is not that much, but optimization
is something we do once, and benefit forever. A good peephole interface,
with plugable passes, will also motivate new optimizations, in the
peephole itself and around it.

> like Guido would like to see a little work put into regaining some of the
> performance that was lost between 1.5.2 and 2.2, so now would probably be a
> good time to dust off my optimizer.

No doubts.

> Mostly just time.  Tick tick tick...

I don't have much of this thing lately.. :-) But I'll try to use
some of it helping wherever possible.

Thank you!

Gustavo Niemeyer

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