[Python-Dev] PyDict_SetItem hook

Guido van Rossum guido at python.org
Fri Apr 3 00:57:22 CEST 2009

On Thu, Apr 2, 2009 at 3:07 PM, Raymond Hettinger <python at rcn.com> wrote:
>> Wow. Can you possibly be more negative?
> I think it's worse to give the poor guy the run around

Mind your words please.

> by making him run lots of random benchmarks.  In
> the end, someone will run a timeit or have a specific
> case that shows the full effect.  All of the respondents so far seem to have
> a clear intuition that hook is right in the middle of a critical path.
>  Their intuition matches
> what I learned by spending a month trying to find ways
> to optimize dictionaries.
> Am surprised that there has been no discussion of why this should be in the
> default build (as opposed to a compile time option).  AFAICT, users have not
> previously
> requested a hook like this.

I may be partially to blame for this. John and Stephan are requesting
this because it would (mostly) fulfill one of the top wishes of the
users of Wingware. So the use case is certainly real.

> Also, there has been no discussion for an overall strategy
> for monitoring containers in general.  Lists and tuples will
> both defy this approach because there is so much code
> that accesses the arrays directly.  Am not sure whether the
> setitem hook would work for other implementations either.

The primary use case is some kind of trap on assignment. While this
cannot cover all cases, most non-local variables are stored in dicts.
List mutations are not in the same league, as use case.

> It seems weird to me that Collin's group can be working
> so hard just to get a percent or two improvement in specific cases for
> pickling while python-dev is readily entertaining a patch that slows down
> the entire language.

I don't actually believe that you can know whether this affects
performance at all without serious benchmarking. The patch amounts to
a single global flag check as long as the feature is disabled, and
that flag could be read from the L1 cache.

> If my thoughts on the subject bug you, I'll happily
> withdraw from the thread.  I don't aspire to be a
> source of negativity.  I just happen to think this proposal isn't a good
> idea.

I think we need more proof either way.

> Raymond
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Guido van Rossum" <guido at python.org>
> To: "Raymond Hettinger" <python at rcn.com>
> Cc: "Thomas Wouters" <thomas at python.org>; "John Ehresman"
> <jpe at wingware.com>; <python-dev at python.org>
> Sent: Thursday, April 02, 2009 2:19 PM
> Subject: Re: [Python-Dev] PyDict_SetItem hook
> Wow. Can you possibly be more negative?
> 2009/4/2 Raymond Hettinger <python at rcn.com>:
>> The measurements are just a distractor. We all already know that the hook
>> is being added to a critical path. Everyone will pay a cost for a feature
>> that few people will use. This is a really bad idea. It is not part of a
>> thorough, thought-out framework of container hooks (something that would
>> need a PEP at the very least). The case for how it helps us is somewhat
>> thin. The case for DTrace hooks was much stronger.
>> If something does go in, it should be #ifdef'd out by default. But then, I
>> don't think it should go in at all.
>> Raymond
>> On Thu, Apr 2, 2009 at 04:16, John Ehresman <jpe at wingware.com> wrote:
>>> Collin Winter wrote:
>>>> Have you measured the impact on performance?
>>> I've tried to test using pystone, but am seeing more differences between
>>> runs than there is between python w/ the patch and w/o when there is no
>>> hook
>>> installed. The highest pystone is actually from the binary w/ the patch,
>>> which I don't really believe unless it's some low level code generation
>>> affect. The cost is one test of a global variable and then a switch to
>>> the
>>> branch that doesn't call the hooks.
>>> I'd be happy to try to come up with better numbers next week after I get
>>> home from pycon.
>> Pystone is pretty much a useless benchmark. If it measures anything, it's
>> the speed of the bytecode dispatcher (and it doesn't measure it
>> particularly
>> well.) PyBench isn't any better, in my experience. Collin has collected a
>> set of reasonable benchmarks for Unladen Swallow, but they still leave a
>> lot
>> to be desired. From the discussions at the VM and Language summits before
>> PyCon, I don't think anyone else has better benchmarks, though, so I would
>> suggest using Unladen Swallow's:
>> http://code.google.com/p/unladen-swallow/wiki/Benchmarks
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> --
> --Guido van Rossum (home page: http://www.python.org/~guido/)

--Guido van Rossum (home page: http://www.python.org/~guido/)

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