[REBOL] Cross-language benchmarking
From: joel::neely::fedex::com at: 5-Nov-2002 11:38
Pardon my manners in not replying to individual remarks, but "so many
emails, so little time!" ;-)
Let me raise a couple of points about what we might accomplish with
such an effort, and who might be in the audience, as a way of thinking
about how such an effort might be done, and what languages might be
Goal: Demonstrate to the world that REBOL is a viable,
competitive language for many common programming tasks
(where "competitive" is defined in terms of run time
Audience: Developers at large.
Languages: Commonly used languages, to maximize likelihood that the
reader will be familiar with one or more of the other
"competitors": c/c++, Java, Perl, Python, VB, ...
Tasks: Toy problems that allow specific aspects of performance
to be instrumented/measured. Also some small "real"
tasks in REBOL's "sweet spot" of performance.
Comment: The tests must be fair, and must be seen to be fair.
We've all seen the kind of unvarnished advocacy that
claims things like "X is faster than Tcl, uses fewer
special characters than Perl, and is cheaper than
COBOL on an IBM mainframe, therefore it's the best!"
which only hurts the credibility of the claimant.
Goal: Demonstrate to the world that REBOL is a viable notation
for use in RAD/prototyping tasks, and makes a good "tool
to think with".
Audience: Same as (1)
Languages: Same as (1)
Tasks: Reasonably small "spike" (in the XP sense) tasks that
would be recognizable as related to application-level
Comment: It's also fair to include code size and programmer effort
in such discussions, but these are notoriously difficult
to instrument objectively.
Goal: Identify and document REBOL programming techniques that
have substantial effect on performance, and build a
vocabulary of "performance patterns" for future use.
Audience: REBOL programmers.
Languages: REBOL only
Tasks: Those situations where reasonably small effort in
refactoring/strategy could produce significant gains in
Goal: Help identify "hot spots" in REBOL where performance
optimization would have significant perceived value.
Languages: REBOL and limited number of "compare for reference"
Comment: I want to be clear on this one: I'm not suggesting that
RT staff are unaware of performance issues! Not at all!
However, several on this list (including RT staff) have
observed that the good folks at RT don't get any more
hours in the day than the rest of us (and therefore have
to pick and choose where to put their mere 20 work hours
per day ;-)
If the list members can help spread the load of finding
issues worthy of attention, help (by participation) to
indicate which performance issues are considered higher
priority than others, or even find one glitch that has
escaped notice to date, then I think the effort would be
a net gain.
Benchmarking is tricky business at best, and A Dark Art at worst.
For results to be meaningful, the sample base must be large enough
(and the indidual tests must be large enough) that transient or
special-case effects get averaged out (e.g., garbage collection
that happens now-and-again during series flogging, differences in
performance due to different CPU speeds, free memory, disk I/O
bandwidth, network bandwidth/congestion, concurrent processing on
computers with real operating systems, etc).
It will be of little use (except to the submitter! ;-) to have a
single benchmark comparing REBOL to Glypnir on an Illiac IV. The
strong benefit IMHO to using primarily cross-platform languages is
that it allows us to perform the tests under the widest possible
range of conditions, thus improving the quality of our averages.
That said, there's probably room for a widely-used proprietary
language (e.g., VB) since that's likely familiar to a significant
portion of the target audience for options (1) and (2). We just
need to be careful to have the widest possible set of alternatives
run on *the*same*boxen* as the proprietary cases, so that we can
make meaningful use of the results. (E.g., a single comparison
of REBOL vs C++ on a box running XPpro would be hard to interpret
beyond the obvious "which one is faster?")
Joel Neely joelDOTneelyATfedexDOTcom 901-263-4446