[Python-Dev] Python-Dev Digest, Vol 39, Issue 54

Larry Hastings larry at hastings.org
Thu Oct 19 08:03:25 CEST 2006

Chetan Pandya wrote:
> I don't have a patch build, since I didn't download the revision used 
> by the patch. 
> However, I did look at values in the debugger and it looked like x in 
> your example above had a reference count of 2 or more within 
> string_concat even when there were no other assignments that would 
> account for it.
It could be the optimizer.  If you concatenate hard-coded strings, the 
peephole optimizer does constant folding.  It says "hey, look, this 
binary operator is performed on two constant objects".  So it evaluates 
the expression itself and substitutes the result, in this case swapping 
(pseudotokens here) [PUSH "a" PUSH "b" PLUS] for [PUSH "ab"].

Oddly, it didn't seem to optimize away the whole expression.  If you say 
"a" + "b" + "c" + "d" + "e", I would have expected the peephole 
optimizer to turn that whole shebang into [PUSH "abcde"].  But when I 
gave it a cursory glance it seemed to skip every-other; it 
constant-folded "a" + "b", then  + "c" and optimized ("a" + "b" + "c") + 
"d", resulting ultimately I believe in [PUSH "ab" PUSH "cd" PLUS PUSH 
"e" PLUS].  But I suspect I missed something; it bears further 

But this is all academic, as real-world performance of my patch is not 
contingent on what the peephole optimizer does to short runs of 
hard-coded strings in simple test cases.

> The recursion limit seems to be optimistic, given the default stack 
> limit, but of course, I haven't tried it.
I've tried it, on exactly one computer (running Windows XP).  The depth 
limit was arrived at experimentally.  But it is probably too optimistic 
and should be winched down.

On the other hand, right now when you do x = "a" + x ten zillion times 
there are always two references to the concatenation object stored in x: 
the interpreter holds one, and x itself holds the other.  That means I 
have to build a new concatenation object each time, so it becomes a 
degenerate tree (one leaf and one subtree) recursing down the right-hand 

I plan to fix that in my next patch.  There's already code that says "if 
the next instruction is a store, and the location we're storing to holds 
a reference to the left-hand side of the concatenation, make the 
location drop its reference".  That was an optimization for the 
old-style concat code; when the left side only had one reference it 
would simply resize it and memcpy() in the right side.  I plan to add 
support for dropping the reference when it's the *right*-hand side of 
the concatenation, as that would help prepending immensely.  Once that's 
done, I believe it'll prepend ((depth limit) * (number of items in 
ob_sstrings - 1)) + 1 strings before needing to render.

> There is probably a depth limit on the left hand side as well, since 
> recursiveConcatenate is recursive even on the left side.
Let me again stress that recursiveConcatenate is *iterative* down the 
left side; it is *not* not *not* recursive.  The outer loop iterates 
over "s->ob_sstrings[0]"s.  The nested "for" loop iterates backwards, 
from the highest string used down to "s->ob_sstrings + 1", aka 
"&s->ob_sstrings[1]", recursing into them.  It then sets "s" to 
"*s->ob_sstrings", aka "s->ob_sstrings[0]" and the outer loop repeats.  
This is iterative.

As a personal favor to me, please step through my code before you tell 
me again how my code is recursive down the left-hand side.

Passing the dutchie,

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