String performance regression from python 3.2 to 3.3

Chris Angelico rosuav at
Wed Mar 13 11:59:08 CET 2013

On Wed, Mar 13, 2013 at 9:11 PM, rusi <rustompmody at> wrote:
> Uhhh..
> Making the subject line useful for all readers

I should have read this one before replying in the other thread.

jmf, I'd like to see evidence that there has been a performance
regression compared against a wide build of Python 3.2. You still have
never answered this fundamental, that the narrow builds of Python are
*BUGGY* in the same way that JavaScript/ECMAScript is. And believe you
me, the utterly unnecessary hassles I have had to deal with when
permitting user-provided .js code to script my engine have wasted
rather more dev hours than you would believe - there are rather a lot
of stupid edge cases to deal with.

The PEP 393 string is simply a memory-optimized version of UTF-32. It
guarantees O(1) indexing and slicing, while still remaining tight in
many cases. Its worst case is a constant amount larger than pure
UTF-32 (the overhead of recording the string width), its best case is
equivalent to ASCII (if all strings are seven-bit).

The flexible string representation is not brand new. It has been
tested and proven in another language, one very similar to Python; and
its performance has been provably sufficient for everyday operations.
Pike's string type behaves just as Python 3.3's, and has done for
longer than I can trace backward. In terms of Unicode compliance, it
is perfect; in terms of performance, quite acceptable; the worst-case
operation is taking an ASCII string and overwriting one character in
it with an astral character - which Python flat-out doesn't permit,
but Pike does, as a known-slow operation. (It triggers a copy of the
string, so it's always going to be slow.)

There are two broad areas of complaint that you have raised. One is of
Unicode compliance and correctness. I believe those complaints are
utterly unfounded, and you have yet to show any serious evidence to
support them. Py 3.3 is perfectly compliant with everything I have yet
checked. The other complaint is of performance, and the issue of being
US-centric. While it's true that ASCII and Latin-1 strings will be
smaller/faster under Py 3.3 than 3.2, this is not purely to the
benefit of the US at the cost of everyone else; it's also a benefit to
the myriad non-US programs that use a lot of ASCII strings - for
instance, delimiters, HTML tags, builtin function names... all of
these are ASCII, even if the rest of the code isn't. And there's no
penalty for non-English speakers, when compared against a non-buggy
wide build. The very worst case is only a constant factor worse, and
that assumes astral characters in every single string... which does
not happen, trust me on that.


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