Interesting timing issue I noticed

Daniel Fetchinson fetchinson at googlemail.com
Wed Apr 16 05:04:51 CEST 2008


> I've written up a stripped down version of the code. I apologize for the bad
> coding; I am in a bit of a hurry.
>
> import random
> import sys
> import time
>
> sizeX = 320
> sizeY = 240
> borderX = 20
> borderY = 20
>
> # generates a zero matrix
> def generate_zero():
>     matrix = [[0 for y in range(sizeY)] for x in range(sizeX)]
>     return matrix
> # fills zero matrix
> def fill_matrix(in_mat):
>     mat = in_mat
>     for x in range(sizeX):
>         for y in range(sizeY):
>             mat[x][y] = random.randint(1, 100)
>     return mat
> ######################################################################
> # COMPUTES ONLY A PART OF THE ARRAY
> def back_diff_one(back_array, fore_array, box):
>     diff_array = generate_zero()
>
>     start = time.time()
>     for x in range(sizeX):
>         for y in range(borderY):
>             diff_array[x][y] = back_array[x][y] - fore_array[x][y]
>         for y in range((sizeY - borderY), sizeY):
>             diff_array[x][y] = back_array[x][y] - fore_array[x][y]
>     for y in range(borderY, (sizeY - borderY)):
>         for x in range(borderX):
>             diff_array[x][y] = back_array[x][y] - fore_array[x][y]
>         for x in range((sizeX - borderX), sizeX):
>             diff_array[x][y] = back_array[x][y] - fore_array[x][y]
>
>     # tracks object
>     if (len(box) != 0):
>         for x in range(box[0], box[2]):
>             for y in range(box[1], box[3]):
>                 diff_array[x][y] = back_array[x][y] - fore_array[x][y]
>     print "time one inside = " + str(time.time() - start)
>     return diff_array
> ######################################################################
> # COMPUTES EVERY ELEMENT IN THE ARRAY
> def back_diff_two(back_array, fore_array):
>     diff_array = generate_zero()
>     start = time.time()
>     for y in range(sizeY):
>         for x in range(sizeX):
>             diff_array[x][y] = back_array[x][y] - fore_array[x][y]
>     end = time.time()
>     print "time two inside = " + str(end - start)
>     return diff_array
> ######################################################################
> # CODE TO TEST BOTH FUNCTIONS
> back = fill_matrix(generate_zero())
> fore = fill_matrix(generate_zero())
> box = [20, 20, 268, 240]
> start1 = time.time()
> diff1 = back_diff_one(back, fore, box)
> print "time one outside = " + str(time.time() - start1)
> start2 = time.time()
> diff2 = back_diff_two(back, fore)
> print "time one outside = " + str(time.time() - start2)
>
> Here are some results from several test runs:
>
> time one inside = 0.0780000686646
> time one outside = 0.125
> time two inside = 0.0780000686646
> time two outside = 0.141000032425
> >>> ================================ RESTART
> ================================
> >>>
> time one inside = 0.0629999637604
> time one outside = 0.125
> time two inside = 0.0789999961853
> time two outside = 0.125
> >>> ================================ RESTART
> ================================
> >>>
> time one inside = 0.0620000362396
> time one outside = 0.139999866486
> time two inside = 0.0780000686646
> time two outside = 0.125
> >>> ================================ RESTART
> ================================
> >>>
> time one inside = 0.0780000686646
> time one outside = 0.172000169754
> time two inside = 0.0789999961853
> time two outside = 0.125
> >>> ================================ RESTART
> ================================
> >>>
> time one inside = 0.0780000686646
> time one outside = 0.125
> time two inside = 0.0780000686646
> time two outside = 0.125
> >>> ================================ RESTART
> ================================
> >>>
> time one inside = 0.0620000362396
> time one outside = 0.155999898911
> time two inside = 0.0780000686646
> time two outside = 0.125
> >>> ================================ RESTART
> ================================
> >>>
> time one inside = 0.077999830246
> time one outside = 0.125
> time two inside = 0.077999830246
> time two outside = 0.125
> >>> ================================ RESTART
> ================================
> >>>
> time one inside = 0.0780000686646
> time one outside = 0.171000003815
> time two inside = 0.077999830246
> time two outside = 0.125
> >>> ================================ RESTART
> ================================
> >>>
> time one inside = 0.0629999637604
> time one outside = 0.18799996376
> time two inside = 0.0620000362396
> time two outside = 0.125
>
> Why is a large percentage of the time, the execution time for the
> (ostensibly smaller) first loop is actually equal to or LARGER than the
> second?


First of all, your method of timing is not the best. Use the timeit
module instead: http://docs.python.org/lib/module-timeit.html

Second of all the number of subtractions is not that different between
the two variants of your functions. back_diff_one does 75360
subtractions per call while back_diff_two does 76800, these two
numbers are almost the same. It's true that back_diff_one first only
calculates a part of the arrays but after "# tracks object" you do a
bunch of more substractions that will make up the total count.

HTH,
Daniel



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